During the first weekend in November (2009), helicopter crews sprayed EPA-approved herbicides on floating mats of giant salvinia and water hyacinth at Toledo Bend Reservoir, where recent floods had flushed the floating, invasive water weeds into more areas of the rain-swollen reservoir, affecting some 2,000 total surface acres. Late last week, the worst infestations were reported on the Texas portion of the reservoir, with many plants being pushed by southerly winds against the shore and into small south-facing coves, some of which were 100 percent covered.
The herbicide application was done by crews from North Star Helicopter, Inc., of Jasper under contract with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Officials had said the spraying of salvinia might take up to seven days depending on weather, but the company started Saturday morning and completed work by mid-day Sunday using two copters equipped with special spraying gear. It will now take several weeks for plants to turn brown, sink to the bottom and die.
Additional treatments will be necessary to reduce concentrations in areas inaccessible to aerial treatment. TPWD is planning a major public education campaign targeting giant salvinia to launch next spring, a multi-faceted effort involving advertising, video, the Web, and other components. This continued control of giant salvinia is much needed, and will benefit area wildlife, fisheries, and outdoors persons.