LA starts drawing down Lake Bistineau to fight salvinia

The lake is lowered at a rate of 4-6 inches per day until it reaches a potential maximum of 8 feet below pool stage

Louisiana starts drawing down Lake Bistineau to fight Giant Salvinia

LAKE BISTINEAU, La. (KSLA) - This year’s drawdown of Lake Bistineau is underway to once again fight off the invasion of Giant Salvinia.

That’s the fast-growing South American fern that can quickly choke the life out of a waterway if not treated properly.

But there are mixed reactions to this summer’s drawdown of the lake that encompasses parts of Bienville, Bossier and Webster parishes.

As the gates to the water control structure began to open Monday, everyone in and around the lake knew why.

“As far as just draining the lake like this, they’ll get rid of some of the salvinia. But they’ll never get rid of all of it,” longtime resident Bing Myers said.

Catching the start of what’s become an annual drawdown has become a tradition.

Locals, including Reginald Chandler, know it’s for the very survival of the lake. “Oh, yeah. If they didn’t do this every year, they wouldn’t have to do it because it wouldn’t do no good.”

Just opening the gates takes more than four hours, with the drawdown typically taking a few weeks.

It’s important to point out that a lot of people hear “drawdown” and think it will take all the water out of the lake.

It doesn’t.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries leaves about 10,000 acres of water for recreation. That’s everything from boating to fishing.

Not everyone is a fan of this drawdown.

“If it really finished it in one or two years. But they’ve been lowering it for six to seven years now,” said Carol Hudson, who owns Our Place Bar and Grill on the west side of the lake.

When the drawdown begins each summer, she said, it means boaters who normally come to her dock to stop and eat cannot do so when the water level is lowered.

Her message for the state: “Wait a while for the drawdown, please. ... Just give us a chance to enjoy the lake. It’s a beautiful lake.”

But as things stand right now, Hudson does not expect anything about the drawdown to change anytime soon.

During a drawdown, the lake level is lowered at a rate of 4-6 inches per day until it reaches a potential maximum level of 8 feet below pool stage.

Wildlife & Fisheries will monitor aquatic habitat conditions to determine the best time to wrap up the drawdown so they can allow the lake to refill for early spring recreational activities.

The time frame of the drawdown also could be impacted by rainfall in the surrounding watershed.

TO HELP

You can help Wildlife & Fisheries control undesired aquatic vegetation on Lake Bistineau by reporting sightings of invasive aquatic plants on the lake. Simply click here. If you have any issues with the form, call (225) 765-2328 or send email aquaticplantcontrol@wlf.la.gov.

RELATED: Lake Bistineau management plan

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