Re: Article, A New Aquatic Menace in Alabama.

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Posted by TroyJ on September 09, 2001 at 21:27:23:

In Reply to: Aquatic Weeds and the Release of Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin posted by Kerry Grissett on September 09, 2001 at 18:08:01:

Thanks for the great info as usual Kerry! We have some great people in the Alabama DCNR.

There are a few things that disturb me about the article by Joe Zolczynski in the provided link, mainly related to the terminology of the article.

It's important to remember that many of our waterways, such as the Tennessee River lock and dam system were created by us, and thus are not truely a "native" aspect of the natural landscape in North America. Along with the changes we've made to our waterways, we've changed the way our eco-system works with regard to habitat for fish and wildlife.

We MUST remember that many, many non-native plants and animals provide benefit to North America. Much of our plant life, food and animal life is non-native to this country, and was imported. The only species that provide a "menace" are those we are unable to manage.

It appears that Joe Zolczynski points to aquatic vegetation such as milfoil and hydrilla as species which "threaten" or "interfere" with our waterways. "Noxious exotic". Unmanaged this is the case. However, it is apparent that when we created the Tennessee River system as it is for example, that "native" aquatic vegetation was unable to provide the needed habitat across the subsurface barren wasteland created along with the river to support strong populations of fish. All the cover was removed from the impoundment before the flooding. In order to maintain such a large fishery, fish must have the cover provided by milfoil and hydrilla, and other plant life in order to continue to thrive. These benefits carry over to a large variety of fish, waterfowl and other wildlife dependent upon the system. Milfoil and hydrilla are able to provide adequate cover for fish over large, otherwise barren flats, including the cover of shade, food, and a break from the current flow. During peak growth, much of the aquatic mat provides sanctuary even from anglers, adding to the growth of the population, and leading to better fishing in the long run. The benefits to a fishery provided by milfoil and hydrilla are almost too numerous to mention, so long as the grass coverage remains managable. The best fisheries in the nation, including those in Florida and California have strong growth of "noxious exotic" plant life. Lake Guntersville may soon exceed all fisheries in other states as the strongest bass fishery in the Nation. It at least has the potential, and the sole reason for the rebound is the return of milfoil and hydrilla, which is the only plant that has the potential to provide the needed cover in the system we created.

As I recall, some of the terminology in the article has been used in the fight by some who want lake grasses erradicated, including those who have interests in the selling or use of chemical herbicides to erradicate milfoil and hydrilla from the Tennessee River and other waterways across the nation. Those unfamilier with the way the grasses provide cover for fish and wildlife also tend to be spooked by such terminology, and dispite how the article was intended, may only understand the negative aspects of imported aquatic vegetation. Logic sometimes seems to give way to how the public views certain situations.

Aquatic vegetation management plans, such as the one implemented on Lake Guntersville should be the focus, and the negative light cast upon non-native aquatic vegetation should be changed in my view. Unless of course we find some way to replace the non-native cover we destroy with some sort of other native cover. It's important to remember that the chemical erradication of these non-native species costs millions, and causes more harm to the environment than good, as well as having a negative effect on our drinking water.

The days of old, the days of the row boat and cane pole have past, and anglers are educated, well equipped and more efficient at covering fishable water. Anglers now hunt fish in places that used to be left untapped. If we are to continue to enjoy quality fisheries, we must understand that fish NEED as much cover as can be established in the waterways that receive increasing pressure from recreational users.

I don't know about this new exotic plant, but we along with the the bass, the bream, the bait fish, the bats, the crappie, the willowflys, the ducks, the eagles, the herons, the racoons, etc, need the milfoil and the hydrilla, no matter where it came from.

I certainly mean no disrespect for Joe Zolczynski or the DCNR, but I'm looking at milfoil and hydrilla from the fish's point of view, and the angler's point of view.

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