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Lake Environment Committee

Maintaining the environmental well being of Lake Gaston

Volunteers from the Lake Gaston Association once again got “hands on” to enhance habitat on Lake Gaston, a 20,300 acre reservoir on the Roanoke River located on the Virginia-North Carolina border.  Since 2013, volunteers have been working with NC State University Department of Crop Science, NC Wildlife Resource Commission and the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources to enhance native aquatic vegetation on Lake Gaston.

The Lake Gaston Weed Control Council has been working for over thirty years using drawdowns, herbicides, and triploid grass carp to control invasive vegetation (primarily hydrilla) at Lake Gaston. As recent as 2006, hydrilla infestations were found on 3,000 acres.   Control measures are now proving successful with recent surveys showing hydrilla to be found on approximately 100 acres. 

Biologists see the need for native vegetation to fill the void left from hydrilla control. Fenced in areas, called exclosures or cages, are constructed to protect and develop colonies of native vegetation.  The cages protect the newly planted vegetation from being eaten by herbivores, such as turtles and grass carp. Native vegetation provides habitat for fish and waterfowl, reduces shoreline erosion, anchors sediment and improves water quality.

This June, 27 volunteers contributed over 270 hours to repair previously constructed cages, harvest and replant native vegetation and construct a new cage in upper Great Creek.

As in years past, Brunswick County provided a pontoon work boat for transportation of materials and personnel.  LGA provided lunch over the three day event. The Lake Gaston Weed Control Council and the Sport Fish Restoration Program provided funding.

Thanks to all the volunteers who came out this year.  You are making a difference!

In late June the Lake Gaston Weed Control Council (LGWCC) was made aware of a mussel die off was occurring in several areas of the Lake that had recently been treated for Lyngbya, an aquatic invasive algae.

Members of the LGA Lake Environment Committee responded immediately collecting information on the event. This was shared with Jessica Baumann, Extension Associate for NCSU's Aquatic Plant Management Group.

A position statement regarding this event and steps going forward are available on the LGWCC web page. Here is a link:  http://www.lgwcc.org/pdfFiles/WeedControl/LakeGastonLyngbyaMusselsRespose-June-2021.pdf

 

If you would like to report an issue regarding aquatic plant species at Lake Gaston, NC/VA, use this link to a Goggle Form. Reported issues will be evaluated by NC State's Extension Associate and considered in any future management plans conducted by the Lake Gaston Weed Control Council.

Due to Dominion's Shoreline Management Plan, management of native species (i.e. Water Willow) is currently prohibited. However, by adding your information to the database you will be considered if management actions are permitted in the future.

https://forms.gle/HDETJHXqjLKuArj66

 

Water, like everything else on Earth, including you, is full of bacteria. Some bacteria are beneficial and some are not. Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacteria commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract and feces of warm-blooded animals.  It is a member of the fecal coliform group of bacteria and is distinguished by its inability to break down easily.  This bacteria is a preferred indicator for freshwater recreation and its presence provides direct evidence of fecal contamination from warm-blooded animals. It can easily be transported in runoff from sources in the watershed. Potential sources are wildlife, farm animals or poorly maintained septic systems.  E. coli can get into the environment, and if contacted by people, can cause health problems and sickness. https://www.usgs.gov/

A simple water test for E. coli, "Easy Gel", is available form Microbiology Labs https://www.micrologylabs.com/ . Easygel  uses a patented Coliscan media, which is a  combination of color-producing chemicals and nutrients that mark coliforms,  E. coli appears in differing colors for easy identification.

The LGA Lake Environment Committee (LEC) has been using Easy Gel  to test Lake Gaston waters since 2017.  The LEC purchases a number of these testing kits and makes them available to anyone who wish to test Lake Gaston water near their residence, swimming area, and or HOA common areas.  Problem areas are identified and action taken to resolve issues.  Results are compiled and provide useful data to demonstrate water quality.

Al Potter has a number of these test kits available to distribute. You can contact Al @ 434-689-2749 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

Results and analysis of the 2020 Lake Gaston Vegetation Survey have been made available. This annual survey has been funded by the Lake Gaston Weed Control Council (LGWCC) since 2012. This is a collaborative effort between volunteers of the Lake Gaston Association (LGA) and staff from North Carolina State University (NCSU). Both point and sonar surveys cover the entire 350 miles of shoreline. Jessica R. Baumann, NCSU Extension Associate gave a presentation of the results to the LGA board at our April 7th meeting.

35 teams of 67 volunteer’s surveyed 4,487 sites, while. NCSU staff surveyed 881 sites.  In total 5,368 sites were surveyed in 212 hours. This level is comparable to previous annual surveys.

71% of sites had some form of aquatic vegetation. Water willow makes up the largest percentage of vegetation (45%) followed by Lyngbya (17%) and chara/nitella (7%). While water willow and chara/nitella are native and considered beneficial species, Lyngbya is considered noxious.

Hydrilla is estimated to be found in small patchy sites totaling only 104 acres. This compares to 1,541 acres found in 2012. Results from the December tuber bank study also indicates a drastic decrease from samples collected in 2012.

Lyngbya acreage has been steadily increasing since 2014, now estimated to cover 1,194 acres. Few areas of the lake are void of Lyngbya. NCSU research efforts funded by the LGWCC continue in the development of an effective Lyngbya management protocol.

Here is a link to the report on the LGWCC web site: 2020_Fall_Lake_Gaston_Vegetation_Survey_Summary.pdf (lgwcc.org)