MAGNOLIA – With guidance from Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists, the Rural Development Authority in Columbia County, owner of Lake Columbia, has begun treatment of the lake to combat giant salvinia.

“Right now, it’s just technical guidance,” Andy Yung, an AGFC Fisheries Division biologist in Camden, said of what the agency is providing the RDA. The AGFC manages the fishery. “They have taken our advice, brought down the lake level and hired a contractor to spray it.”

Giant salvinia was spotted on Lake Columbia a couple of days before last Christmas. The AGFC advised the lake manager at Magnolia to begin treatments as soon as possible to reduce the spread of the invasive species.

Yung said, “We had to have the approval of the Arkansas Department of Health, because the lake is a water supply for the city. We had to work with the city of Magnolia because they have to use well water when we’re spraying the lake. And we have to work with the owner of the lake, the RDA. There were a lot of moving parts there and we managed to get everyone together from across the state in less than 2 weeks of identification of giant salvinia at Lake Columbia. Everyone getting together this quickie during the holiday season exemplifies how serious this situation is.”

The chemical used to spray giant salvinia will not harm the lake’s bass, crappie or other fish, or hamper the fishing, though anglers were asked to avoid the spraying area while it was ongoing during the past week. The spraying also limited the city’s use of the lake for the water supply during the application.

“The fishing there is good,” Yung said late last week. “We were out there two days the week before last for our annual electrofishing survey.

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