Using $10,000 in funding from the Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Project, the department planted five species of native vegetation inside 30 protective enclosures along more than a mile of shoreline.
The plants were produced at a plant nursery at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, funded by the East Texas Woods and Waters Foundation.
“In Lake Palestine, most submersed aquatic vegetation is limited to a small area of shallow water separated from the rest of the reservoir by a causeway and bridge,” said Richard Ott, the department's biologist who manages the lake's fishery, in a prepared statement.
“The founder colonies of plants will allow the prevailing southerly wind during the growing season to distribute seed and plant fragments north toward other areas of the reservoir. The locations for the colonies were selected due to the lack of waterfront homes to reduce conflict with property owners. The species we selected were those that work best in most Texas reservoirs but that haven't shown to be problematic.”
“The function of plants is to capture sunlight and turn it into food,” Ott said. “Everything starts with aquatic plants. Some are food for fish directly, but more importantly, they are also food for insects and invertebrates that are eaten by small fish that are eaten by big fish and then by us. Plants provide cover for small fish to hide in and grow; they generate oxygen; buffer changes in pH; slow wave action and filter water.”
Mark Webb, a fisheries biologist, said, “Tying down the shoreline and reservoir bottom with native vegetation reduces erosion and the amount of suspended sediment in the water and reduces the need for repairs to bulkheads.”
He added, “Because plants are taking nutrients out of the water, algae growth is reduced, which helps improve the quality of drinking water. Once well established, native plants give a great amount of benefit for low cost.”