N.C. State University’s Jessica Baumann detailed the growth of the lyngbya species on Lake Gaston.

Discussion of enhanced lyngbya treatment highlighted the Lake Gaston Stakeholders Board Meeting earlier this year and subsequently, the Lake Gaston Weed Control Council Meeting that followed last month.

LGWCC ultimately approved an expansion of lyngbya treatment, marking a 230-percent increase in acreage (300) with work set to begin April 19 or when water temperatures are warm enough to begin tackling the disruptive algae.

“Preliminary results from last year’s vegetation survey indicates acreage of lyngbya continues to increase and is now approximately 1,200 acres,” according to the Lake Gaston Stakeholders Board Meeting Minutes, citing the presentation of N.C. State University’s Jessica Baumann, the extension associate for the Lake Gaston Aquatic Plant Management Program.

Baumann’s presentation showed that lyngbya was discovered in 22 percent of her team’s 5,368 survey sites around the lake and 30 percent of all vegetated sites. From 2012 to last year, there was about a 167 percent increase in Lake Gaston lyngbya.

“We haven’t found anything that’s super duper as far as killing it off,” said Pete Deschenes, the Lake Gaston Stakeholders chairman.

The LGWCC remains contracted with PLM Lake and Land Management but will also now use Aqua Services for lyngbya treatment.

“They have been successful in Alabama and other locations in controlling lyngbya,” LGWCC told the Gazette-Observer. “They have a unique process for applying algaecides down directly to the lyngbya mat on the lake floor. We have not had this capability before.”

Meanwhile, hydrilla in Lake Gaston remains much less of a concern, having effectively been defeated.

“Hydrilla is in the maintenance status as of now,” the weed control council said. “We will monitor for any locations that have an infestation of hydrilla. LGWCC has set aside funds to treat up to 104 acres of unexpected infestation.”

LGWCC will pay PLM $138,582 in applicator fees and Aqua Services $153,828 while also buying $425,881 worth of chemicals from Cygnet Enterprises.

Annual funding is designed to come from each of the five counties Lake Gaston rests in, along with the City of Virginia Beach, which pipes in water from the lake.

Why exactly does lyngbya, which is much more expensive to treat than hydrilla, need to be addressed in this manner?

“The pros are clean water, improved habitat for wildlife, safe water for swimming and any type of water activity,” LGWCC said. “It will continue to allow the value of property to increase (counties like this).”

When lyngbya treatments commence, they will be implemented at 30-day intervals.

“Also, residents who have a lyngbya issue and are not in the LGWCC treatment areas can now contact Aqua Services along with PLM Lake and Land Management for treatments,” LGWCC added. “Their contact information is on the LGWCC website.”

The website also features a link to a map detailing the treatment sites.

During the LGWCC meeting, Mark Fowlkes covered the possibility of incorporating fish attractors in the lake, which means submersed artificial structures that allow for smaller fish to avoid predators. The concept, which would need approval from Dominion Energy, was part of discussions about a new five-year Vegetation Establishment Plan.

The Lake Gaston Stakeholders Board Meeting minutes noted that anglers are encouraged to harvest spotted bass or Alabama bass, which have grown more prevalent in recent years. There is no size or creel limit.

Deschenes shared the news of the death of Jack Saunders, lauding the time and effort he put into the health and safety of Lake Gaston.

Lake Gaston Weed Control Council Meeting, March 4, 2021

Attendees: Elton Brown, Jeff Zimmer, John Zubrod, Wayne Carter, Glenn Barbour, Tony Brown, Lynnwood Little, Pete Deschenes, Wally Sayko.

Lake Gaston Stakeholders Board Meeting, Feb. 11, 2021

Attendance (14 voting members): Don Carson (president, LGA), Tare Davis (chairman, Warren County Board of Commissioners), Pete Deschenes (chairman, Roanoke-Wildwood VFD tax board), Rob Emens (NC DEQ), Mark Fowlkes (NCWRC), Bill Frazier (NC B.A.S.S.), Brian Goldsworthy (LGWSC), Ted Griner (Lake Gaston Striper Club), Vincent Jones (Warren County manager), Rob Richardson (N.C. State), Kirk Rundle (NCWR), Wally Sayko (Brunswick County), Erika Van Goethem (SePRO Corp.), Jeff Zimmer (Lake Gaston Weed Control Council).

Also present: Jessica Baumann (N.C. State), Andrew Gay (NCDWR), David Murphey (LGA), Al Potter (LGA).