The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will apply herbicide to approximately 205 acres of hydrilla in the J. Strom Thurmond Lake beginning Wednesday, weather permitting, according to a news release.
These herbicides pose no danger to swimmers, boaters, or fish, the Corps said in the release.
Herbicide applications are scheduled to begin at the Parksville Recreation Area in McCormick County and Cherokee Recreation Area and Bussey Point Wildlife Management Area in Lincoln County.
These areas will not close during applications, however, boaters may need to wait a few minutes to launch or retrieve their boats during herbicide applications, according to Kenneth Boyd, a natural resources specialist at Thurmond Lake. Boaters should also stay clear of the application equipment while herbicide is being applied, according to Boyd.
Hydrilla, an invasive noxious aquatic weed found throughout much of the U.S., poses grave danger to waterfowl and raptors that feed on the waterfowl. Hydrilla affects shoreline uses in shallow areas especially during the late summer and fall, however, the vast majority of the lake remains navigable, Boyd said. Hydrilla goes dormant during the winter and re-sprouts from the root system during late spring and summer.
Research shows hydrilla accumulates a blue-green bacterium called cyanobacterium that infects waterfowl feeding on the plant. Cyanobacterium causes nerve and brain deterioration in the water birds and in eagles and other raptors that eat infected waterfowl. Species known to be affected include bald eagle, American coot, great horned owl, killdeer, Canada goose, mallard, ring-necked duck, scaup, and bufflehead, Boyd said.
As a part of the integrated approach to the management of AVM at Thurmond Lake, spot treatments of approximately 200 acres each year, where hydrilla is located at or near the surface will attempt to minimize bald eagle and waterfowl deaths. Also, officials will release sterile grass carp at designated locations later this year.
“Hydrilla spreads easily,” Boyd said. “Boaters should ensure boat trailers, boats, and live wells are free of aquatic plants before leaving the launching area.” While hydrilla may have some benefits to fish and waterfowl populations as it becomes established in some lakes, it is costly to manage and has negative impacts on lake users as plant growth becomes over-abundant.
The Savannah District Aquatic Plant Management Plan allows adjoining property owners to treat hydrilla around their docks provided they obtain a free permit from the Thurmond Project Office. Only individuals holding a special license from the state may apply the aquatic herbicide.
Additional information on AVM and aquatic plant management at Thurmond Lake can be obtained at http://www.sas.usace.army.mil/About/Divisions-and-Offices/Operations-Division/J-Strom-Thurmond-DamDam-and-Lake/Natural-Resources/ or by contacting the Thurmond Project Office at (800) 533-3478 or (864) 333-1159.