Houston Lake Alliance working to beat back invasive weed

Houston County's largest public lake is being invaded. Not by aliens, but by a weed.

A local group, called the Houston Lake Alliance, is working to beat it back.

On a warm December morning, natural beauty abounded at Houston Lake. It's below the surface that little green monsters loomed.

Resident at the lake for 35 years Jack Nash said, "We used to fish and swim."

Now, a many-tentacled invader keeps Nash and his family on land.

He said, "You can't even hardly get your bait in the water, the weeds are so thick."

Forget setting sail in some areas. Nash said, "Your propeller gets tangled up in the weeds."

The weed causing all of the problems is called Cabomba. It's more commonly known as Fanwort. Right now, it's covering at least 50-percent of the lake. If left uncontrolled, it could choke out the lake, according to fish biologist, Les Ager.

Ager said, "Too much weeds is bad. Some weeds is ok."

Ager, who used to work for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, says Houston Lake needs considerably less of the weed for fish and recreation to thrive.

He is helping a newly formed group called the Houston Lake Alliance lure in help for the lake's health.

Nash said, "We want DNR to help us come up with some figures and solutions."

Fisheries expert with the Georgia DNR Seve Schleiger, says they plan to evaluate the lakes aquatic system in the spring. Then, they will make recommendations for improving the lake and controlling the weed population.

Schleiger said the state, the county, or possibly the Houston Lake Alliance will have to find money to implement the recommendations.

Nash said, "The key thing is getting funding."

He and Ager invite anyone with an interest in the public lake to join their group.

Ager said, "Who wouldn't like to have a 150-acre lake near them? Everyone would love to have that kind of resource, even if they don't fish. They would love to go out there and boat or paddle or bird watch."

Schleiger said healthy lakes have a 30 to 40-percent weed cover. He said Houston Lake has an "overabundance" at 50-percent or more.

To contact the Houston Lake Alliance, email houstonlakealliance@gmail.com.


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