Cumberland Times-News

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October 11, 2013

Invasive vegetation found in Deep Creek Lake coves

Weed forms dense grass mats that keeps fish from using area

DEEP CREEK LAKE — A Maryland Department of Natural Resources representative announced that there is a new invasive noxious weed (hydrilla verticillata) found in Deep Creek Lake. The announcement was made during an Oct. 5 public meeting to discuss the watershed management plan for the lake.

The hydrilla was discovered in two small coves Sept. 27 by DNR Resource Assessment Service staff as part of the subaquatic vegetation monitoring program. The weekend of Oct. 5 the DNR located more hydrilla. The hydrilla has been located in seven coves in the lake thus far, according to Lee Karrh, biologist with the DNR. Samples were obtained and tested by the DNR and independently. Karrh believes that it is the Korean strain of hydrilla and is doing genetic testing to prove it.

This is the first time hydrilla has been found in the lake but it has been in Maryland for a long time, according to Karrh.

In Karrh’s opinion, the fact that hydrilla was found is more concerning than the fact that there is Eurasian watermilfoil already in the lake.

“Hydrilla is faster growing than Eurasian watermilfoil. It forms dense, impenetrable mats of grass,” said Karrh. “Eurasian watermilfoil is much looser than hydrilla. Hydrilla excludes fish from using the area.”   

 It is likely that the hydrilla was attached to a boat or boat trailer. One of the proposed options for minimizing future long-term impacts of the weed is a boat-checking or washing station, according to Karrh. All it takes for an invasion of the weed is a one-inch cutting.

During the week of Oct. 21, the DNR plans to return to the lake to see if there are any additional areas that contain hydrilla. While scouting for additional areas of the weed, the DNR will contact experts to determine the best management control option, according to Karrh.

“Anytime you have aquatic invaders that come in, it is virtually impossible to eliminate them. We are going to be evaluating what we can do long-term to keep it and other aquatic invaders out,” said Karrh. “As things develop we are going to work with the (DCL) Property Owners Association, the Friends of Deep Creek Lake and lake stakeholders. We are not going to do it in a vacuum.”

The discovery of hydrilla in the lake points out the importance of the ongoing DNR subaquatic vegetation monitoring effort, noted Bob Hoffman, president of the Property Owners Association.  

“Their quick reaction also demonstrates their commitment to a healthy lake for all of us to enjoy,” said Hoffman. “At this point, DNR needs the time necessary to collect and analyze relevant data to determine the size and severity of the problem as well as to develop the appropriate control/management strategies to deal with the issue.”

Hydrilla is a plant native to India and was probably brought into Florida as an aquarium plant, according to Karrh. Hydrilla continues to be sold through aquarium supply dealers and over the Internet, even though the plant is on the U.S. Federal Noxious Weed List, according to the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants at the University of Florida.

Hydrilla is present from Florida to Connecticut and west to California and Washington.

In August, DNR and the Garrett County Commissioners appointed a steering committee to guide the development of a comprehensive watershed management plan for the lake.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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