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!