Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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Lack of rain creating flourishing eco-system in Lady Bird Lake

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TWC News: Lack of rain creating flourishing eco-system in Lady Bird Lake
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If you have kayaked lately on Lady Bird Lake, chances are you have seen some unlikely plant life above the surface.

While the smothering denseness of the new plants may bother some kayakers, biologists say it's a healthy ecosystem.

"People who care about Lady Bird and care about Lady Bird's water quality should be happy that we have this plant in the lake,” City Environmental Scientist Mary Gilroy said.

Cabomba is a native aquatic plant that is flourishing in Lady Bird Lake. Drought conditions and decreased water flow is promoting rapid plant growth, which Gilroy says is able to trap the sediment and provide excellent habitat for fish, ducks and all kinds of other creatures

Due to the decreasing water supply in the Highland Lakes area, earlier this year the Lower Colorado River Authority reduced the amount of water sent downstream to rice farmers. For now, the farmers are getting what they need.

"There is still some irrigation going on, but by and large, that is being met with inflows with water that is coming into the river below Mansfield Dam," LCRA River Operations Manager David Walker said.

Beginning this spring, recreational businesses on Lady Bird have been paying attention to the progressive plants, and some boaters are getting caught in the weeds.

"Since then we have noticed it taking over the entire channel," Jane Shepherd with Texas Rowing Center said. "If their oars get into the plants, it flips them over."

Biologists understand the public concerns, but say Mother Nature is doing her job to take care of all living creatures up and down this water way.

Unless heavy rains are able to flush out the thick of this, expect the plants to stay around at least through the fall.

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