Sept. 2, 2022
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
TEXARKANA – The three boat ramps on Mercer Bayou in Miller County near Fouke are being closed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission for the Labor Day weekend due to the discovery today of giant salvinia at one of the ramps and in the canal.
Giant salvinia is an invasive species that is difficult to remove from a body of water once it takes hold. Matt Horton, the AGFC’s aquatic nuisance species coordinator, said the agency is closing the ramps for the weekend to keep boat traffic from carrying the giant salvinia to other portions of the lake or spreading it to other bodies of water. In the meantime, AGFC staff will work to contain the giant salvinia discovered this week while also assessing the rest of Mercer Bayou for any other presence of the invasive species.
Horton said that after the weekend’s work by staff, the AGFC will reevaluate the closure and make the decision whether to reopen the boat ramps on Tuesday. A renovation of Mercer Bayou by the AGFC, including the dredging of the canal access, was completed earlier this year.
Once giant salvinia enters a body of water, it grows rapidly to cover the surface of a lake or stream, spreading aggressively by vegetative fragments. A single stem can multiply so rapidly that the plant will cover hundreds of acres within a month or two. It forms floating mats that shade and crowd out important native plants, reduce oxygen content and degrade water quality for fish and other aquatic organisms.
The AGFC has used booms typically seen in oil spills to contain the spread of giant salvinia that was discovered in recent years around a marina and boat ramp at Lake Columbia. Boaters and anglers are urged to clean, drain and dry their boats after leaving any body of water to help stop the spread of this and other aquatic invasive species. Until now, the only Arkansas water bodies with known infestations were Lakes Erling and Columbia.
Visit www.agfc.com/ans for more information on Arkansas’s aquatic invaders and to report any sightings of giant salvinia or other aquatic nuisance species.