LRAFB lake drawdown

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mariam K. Springs
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

In recent years, the base lakes have seen increased infestations of noxious aquatic vegetation, particularly the extremely invasive alligator weed.

As a control measure, the lakes are being drawn down this winter.

“The goal of the drawdown is to stress the plant [alligator weed] by exposing the sediments and roots to freeze and dry-out, in order to reduce reemergence over the next growing season,” said Dana Hardage, 19th Civil Engineer Squadron natural resource program manager. “Lowered lake levels allow easy access to chemically treat the weeds when the growing season begins. It also allows for additional shoreline maintenance that is normally not possible due to high water levels.”

Alligator weed forms thick mats along the shorelines of the lakes and the dense growth suppresses native plant species. In addition, the gamefish population has been stunted within the base lakes as a result of alligator weed providing too much cover for the forage fish.

“Weeds give baitfish a place to hide out,” said Seth Fisher, 19th CES hunting and fishing program manager. “Currently, there’s too much cover for gamefish to properly feed. You’re going to have aquatic vegetation in any lake, however, the alligator weed has taken over. The weed creates a floating mat that allows other plant growth that usually wouldn’t be able to grow, creating additional problems.”

According to Hardage, through a cooperative agreement with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the weeds were aggressively treated with aquatic herbicide during the spring and summer of 2019 with plans to continue the same treatment next year.

“The goal is to keep the alligator weed down so that native vegetation can continue to grow, while also keeping the shorelines manageable to comfortably fish,” Fisher said. “When Airmen and their families come out, we want them to be able to fish without needing a boat.”

The lake is scheduled to be returned to normal levels between April and May.