While the US Army Corps of Engineers continues to study hydrilla and its effects on Kerr Lake, North Carolina State Parks will become the first governmental agency to take action against hydrilla infested areas around the shoreline that borders some popular recreation areas. Spray treatments are scheduled for next week.
Kerr Lake State Recreation Area leaders announced yesterday that the spraying of herbicides to help contain hydrilla will take place next week. This comes just in time as summer and the current increase in daily temperatures is the time that the underwater nuisance weed tends to thrive. It’s also the time that campers flood to the campsites which in many cases border the lake providing swimming and boating opportunities. Kerr Lake camper Mike Sawaya commented, “I hope the State Parks participate in the eradication effort as available to “water front” property owners. This non-native invasive weed is completely changing the lake camping experience.”
Bryce Fleming, the Superintendent of the seven Kerr Lake state recreation areas said that his staff has been keenly aware of the need to take some control measures on hydrilla’s unwanted presence around boat ramps and swimming areas. A recent update meeting and some found emergency dollars prompted some treatment.
Fleming added, “Kerr Lake State Recreation Area personnel are concerned about the hydrilla found in the lake around some of the facilities we operate. We were able to secure some funding for hydrilla treatment after receiving the Kerr Lake Vegetation Survey. Our resources are currently limited, but we do want to take action to at least treat a few high priority locations. Recreation areas that will likely receive some treatment are Hibernia, Henderson Point and Kimball Point. We plan to conduct hydrilla treatment on June 25th and 26th if weather permits.
Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Frank Timberlake was quick to praise Fleming’s fast herbicide application plan, “Bryce and his staff aren’t sitting on their hands on the hydrilla problem. It doesn’t take a scientist to see that hydrilla is more than a menace to park experiences around infected areas at Kerr Lake. Out in the water a couple of weeks ago, I walked in the mess and got tangled up. My 25-pound boat anchor weighed 100 pounds when we pulled it up covered in the choking weed. Kerr Lake Park Watch views this as a positive, pro-active step for which state parks must continue to fund. Control of hydrilla is the focus now.”
Superintendent Fleming added that by several state agencies and groups working together, the effect of the money found to conduct the immediate herbicide application at Kerr Lake was at least doubled.
The US Army Corps of Engineers which actually owns and operates the lake so far is not claiming any responsibility for trying to control hydrilla. The Corps’ position currently is to provide a list of approved application companies which can be hired by waterfront property owners to spray for control of hydrilla.
The only person talking about hydrilla is a Vance County Cooperative Extension Agent and his message in summary is spray, spray, spray, but only pay to do it. So hydrilla management in the waters of North Carolina is lucrative only to the handful of “approved” herbicide applicators who collect big dollars from the lake-front owners who are trying to keep the encroaching water weed from blocking their boating and swimming areas.
Late in the summer season last year, several pontoon boat owners in Dobson Creek to the west of Hibernia State Recreation Area had to literally “pole” their pontoon boats out beyond hydrilla growth at their docks. Swimming in a hydrilla infested area is almost impossible if not dangerous.
So in his most recent update, Ext Agent Paul McKenzie advocates hiring professional applicators to gain some control. What about the boat ramps and swimming areas at our state recreations areas? No spray, no action.
Consider this, hydrilla concern and control depends on who you talk to:
- The US Army Corps of Engineers – monitoring and studying, but taking no responsibility and no action except to approve applicators
- North Carolina State Parks – (7 Recreation areas, many already affected) – no money, no responsibility
- Virginia State Parks – hydrilla hasn’t arrived so it’s not a problem
Right now fishing groups feel hydrilla provides great cover for fish not realizing that most scientists believe that harmful bacteria and other parasitics can attach to hydrilla and the weed can eliminate some species eventually changing the food chain of a body of water.
Recent campers at some of the recreation areas are now asking questions about the “weedy” bottom of their swimming areas and so far this year the sun and temperature indexes that make hydrilla thrive have not been seen yet.
Meanwhile, property owners, who cannot cut so much as a tree limb without Corp interaction, are left to battle monster kudzu of the water at the mercy of herbicide sprayers.
KERR LAKE PARK WATCH feels that the government sidestep is not fair to the quality of the lake and to the quality of camping, boating and swimming users who have supported and used these parks in some cases for generations. With hydrilla looming in the waters, the question is, “Will generations have the same recreational opportunities in the future?’
The government entities directly responsible for Kerr Lake and for the recreational facilities around the lake should do just that: TAKE A POSITION AND SHOW SOME RESPONSIBILITY.
Dear Kerr Lake residents and visitors,
As the summer fun season gets under way, I wanted to send a few reminders and updates.
If you have lake-front property, you may want to do some sampling to determine if hydrilla is present in your area. Simply zip-tie together the heads of two garden rakes, tie on a rope, throw out into the water, and pull it in to see if there is any vegetation.
Here is a picture of a sampling rake: http://flic.kr/p/9PKs27
And here is a picture of hydrilla: http://flic.kr/p/cbQq8o
I am happy to identify samples if you are unsure (sampling instructions below), or if you find a plant you don’t recognize.
If you find hydrilla or other nuisance vegetation, you may want to go ahead and contact one of the approved contract applicators to make a treatment. They may offer a discount if you coordinate treatments with your neighbors.
You could also consider physical removal of the vegetation using a rake, although I imagine the word “chore” doesn’t even begin to describe that undertaking. The vegetation can be piled up on the bank to decompose.
For a list of the approved applicators, contact Chris Powell with the US Army Corps of Engineers at 434-738-6143 Ext. 162.
Under NO circumstances should you attempt to make a treatment yourself. It is illegal, potentially hazardous to fish and other wildlife, and possibly hazardous to you and your family. If you observe anyone making an illegal treatment, they can be reported to the NCDA&CS Pesticide Section at 919-733-3556 for possible fines.
Here is more information about hydrilla biology and identification:
Currently the various agencies that participate in oversight of lake resources are digesting the information collected in the lake-wide vegetation survey that was started last fall and just recently completed. The goal is to develop detailed recommendations for vegetation management, considering the needs of all lake users including boaters, anglers, residents, campers, hunters, swimmers, birders, etc. More information will be forthcoming.
Aquatic plant sampling instructions: Collect two large handfuls of the vegetation. Wring out the excess water. Wrap the sample in a slightly moist paper towel and place in a plastic bag. Deliver the sample as quickly as possible to the County Extension Office. If the sample will be held for more than an hour or so, store in a refrigerator or cooler.
Seeya at the lake!
Paul McKenzie – Follow me on Twitter! http://twitter.com/pgmckenzie
Agricultural Extension Agent, Vance/Warren Counties Field Crops (Warren only), Forestry, Horticulture NC Cooperative Extension NCSU College of Agriculture & Life Sciences
305 Young St., Henderson, NC 27536
252.438.8188 (Vance) 252.257.3640 (Warren)
Making camping reservations online can be a snap or a snafu depending on what system your state uses. When the system owners merge, like in North Carolina, that means some features and user friendliness may be lost.
What you need to know is that depending on which system your booking your campsite you might pay a one time transaction fee or you might pay a transaction fee as high as $3 per night which on a 14-day stay can equal $42 for just the booking.
In our preliminary look at making reservations at parks on Kerr Lake, we found three different systems for the US Army Corps of Engineers, North Carolina and Virginia.
One amazing bit of news, one USACE park on Kerr Lake has no online reservation capability. That’s a small but beautiful, almost forgotten park, Buffalo Park. We will have more on Buffalo soon.
KLPW is working on a comparison of the parks reservations systems and their fee structures. Till then, click carefully.
If you have a question or comment about camping reservations just submit it below or send us an email at email@example.com.
Many of the 7 North Carolina State Recreation Areas on Kerr Lake are enjoying burgeoning attendance numbers, but not all those numbers are people camping or having a picnic. State parks have always been a haven for man and animal…wait a minute…hold it…I’m grabbing the flashlight and headed outside….(few minutes later)…I’m back.
While I was writing this update, I had two, not just one, raccoons remove the heavy rocks off my Hibernia trash can and peruse the trash. While that is somewhat annoying and can bring on an early morning cleanup session, annoying is all that episode really was.
Hibernia is one of the areas hit with an unusually high number of racoons, coyotes and even a bear sighting on an adjacent farm. Most of those critters can make a camper hurt themselves or provide some critter jitters but those animals generally don’t attack humans. The coyotes let out a howl sometimes that is a little eery since most of us in North Carolina didn’t grow up with them.
What’s getting pretty tough is the abnormally high appearances of the venomous copperhead snakes. Two people have been reported to have been bitten in Hibernia this year so far and two copperheads have been reported killed while KLPW has been in the park. Officials blame the lack of a cold winter which has apparently given the snakes a head start on the season. A number of sightings have occurred in the more wooded AREA 1 section of the park.
Most often wildlife and park officials are reluctant to take any actions directly against any wild animals. KLPW will be checking with NC Parks and will provide an update.
In the meantime, if you are camping at Kerr Lake and go out at night here’s a few simple rules to follow:
1) Remember that snakes in general seek out warm places at night like an asphalt road.
2) Take a flashlight with you at night.
3) Be observant when picking up sticks or firewood.
4) Take a friend with you on walks.
5) In the water or the woods you are in the animals’ habitat. You have to watch out for them!
6) If an emergency does take place contact your nearest ranger, campground host or dial 911 on your cell phone.
We hope you have already had the joy of getting out to a Kerr Lake Park this season. Everything is nice and green and the water already feels great! Memorial Day has come and gone but we have a lot of news and views coming your way very shortly. So it’s time for a pause, a picnic, some camping or boat ramping.
Here’s a headline preview of some of the news and views items that we’ll be working to bring to you. Of course, you are always free to submit comments or point out issues you would like reviewed by KLPW.
- Staunton River State Park To Get New Manager
- Occoneechee State Park Marina Open – Not Full
- Hydrilla Is Growing
- A Comparison of NC Kerr Lake Recreation Areas to Falls & Jordan
- Campground Hosting – Duties, Requirements – A Comparative Analysis
- 3 out of 4 NC Parks Rangers – West Side of Kerr Lake Aren’t Law Enforcement Approved
- NC Parks Operating New Boat Ramps at Nutbush
- Hibernia Still Behind in Campground & Bath House Improvements
Tell a friend about kerrlakeparkwatch.org. We’re 150+ engaged outdoor users of the facilities around Kerr Lake. Send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org.