The Lake Gaston Association, in partnership with the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, NC State Aquatic Plant Management Program, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, Dominion Energy, NC B.A.S.S. and VA B.A.S.S. Conservation have developed a new 5-year Operational Habitat Enhancement Plan for Lake Gaston.(see the plan here)
This is a commitment by all partners to continue habitat enhancement efforts on Lake Gaston.
The objective is to improve physical habitat for sport fishes by diversifying and establishing self-sustaining native aquatic plant communities while helping to prevent the spread of nuisance aquatic plants. The plan includes establishing new re-vegetation sites, maintaining existing sites, and establishing new fish attractor sites. We hope to improve physical habitat for fish and wildlife while suppressing Hydrilla and Lyngbya growth by encouraging reestablishment of native plants in areas where they do not currently exist.
There are currently 14 revegetation sites that include multiple planted areas. Aquatic vegetation has successfully expanded well outside these planted areas and will continue to thrive with continued cage maintenance and planting. Each year volunteers build new cages, repair cages and plant native aquatic vegetation. This year partners worked 531 hours on the project and have worked over 4,130 hours since 2015. While revegetation efforts take time and patience, this project has been a success because of the determination and hard work put in from the Lake Gaston community and its’ partners.
Annual Lake Gaston Volunteer Vegetation Survey Is Kicking Off, Volunteers Needed!!
It’s that time of year again!From September 1st to October 31st, volunteers’ will be documenting aquatic vegetation, both good and bad, around the entire 350 miles of Lake Gaston shoreline.This survey is a collaborative effort between volunteers from the Lake Gaston Association (LGA), North Carolina State University (NCSU), and the Lake Gaston Weed Control Council (LGWCC), but anyone is welcome to come join in on the fun!
This survey is an important tool that goes directly into determining the upcoming management plan for Lake Gaston’s aquatic plant community! The data collected during this survey is used to capture the abundance and diversity of the aquatic plant community and to monitor nuisance species, such as hydrilla and lyngbya. Therefore, volunteering for the survey is a great way for homeowners to actively participate in the management of aquatic plants around their area of the lake!
In order to volunteer, all you really need is access to a boat and a few hours to spend on the lake! The shoreline is divided into survey sites, but volunteers are able to choose sites that are most convenient for them. Prior to the survey volunteers are issued all of the equipment they will need to survey, including a handheld electronic tablet for data collection. The equipment can be used from any water vessel and volunteers don’t have to be an expert at identifying aquatic plants to participate! You will be provided with a plant ID booklet that will cover most of the plants you will encounter at Lake Gaston.We will also provide several informative videos that will explain the vegetation survey in detail and provide you with some tips on aquatic plant identification. Don’t worry, we will make sure you feel completely comfortable before sending you out on the lake!!
If you are interested in participating please sign up now using this link to an electronic form that will collect your basic contact information and allow us to get an idea of your preferred survey site.
Here is a link to a video that explains the survey process:
PLM Lake and Land Management Corp. www.plmcorp.net was once again selected as the application contractor for Hydrilla treatments. No specific treatment areas have been designated at this time for Hydrilla. Should infestations occur, treatments will be scheduled.
LGA volunteers participated this past fall to survey the entire 350 miles of Lake Gaston shoreline. This was a tremendous effort and “hats off” to all those who participated.
36 teams comprised of 80 volunteers surveyed a total of 4,084 sites. These teams put in a total effort of 400 hours. This level of sampling is comparable to past years.
74% of sites surveyed contained some form of aquatic vegetation. The aquatic plant community was made up of 70% emergent species, 5% submergent species, 4% floating leaf species, and 21% algal species. Water willow made up the largest percent of the overall vegetation at 48% and has consistently been the most abundant species found throughout the lake since 2018. The most abundant species, water willow, lyngbya, and chara, were all well distributed throughout the lake.
Hydrilla is still located throughout the lake, primarily found in very shallow water, small and patchy sites. Standing acreage of hydrilla is estimated to be 154 acres. Tuber bank surveys show an almost undetectable level with a slightly higher density in Lizard and Hawtree Creeks.
Lyngbya was found at 20% of surveyed sites and is estimated to cover 1317 acres. Lyngbya is the second most prevalent species and has displayed a steady overall increase since 2014.
These results were present to the Technical Advisory Group or TAG on February 15, 2022. TAG then made recommendations for integrated management including Grass Carp stocking, revegetation with natives, and Aquatic Herbicide treatments to the Stakeholders Group on March 4th, and the Lake Gaston Weed Control Council (LGWCC) on March 10th.Members of the LGA Lake Environment Committee are active participants in this management process.
The report states, Continued yearly surveying of Lake Gaston's aquatic plant community is recommended to monitor growth and distribution in both the native and beneficial communities, as well as, noxious and harmful species.
Thanks again to all who volunteer to make this process successful.Your work is critical to keeping our lake environment healthy!