Prince William County, VA is suffering the ill effects of another alien invasion and a collection of politicians is engaged in vigorous hand–wringing over possible solutions.
No, this isn’t another rant about illegals clogging 7/11 parking lots. This time it’s alien plants clogging Quantico Creek.
Recently Dumfries Mayor Jerry Foreman, Del. Mark Dudenhefer (R–2nd), Supervisor Maureen Caddigan, and Dumfries Council-member Helen Reynolds took a pontoon boat tour of Quantico Creek. (Oddly enough Supervisor Frank Principi, a Democrat who is usually an enthusiastic participant anytime commuter ferries are involved, did not make the voyage.)
Creeping along at about the same speed as OJ’s SUV, the group’s mission was to see for themselves the extent of the hydrilla crop currently infesting Quantico Creek. Hydrilla is a green, leafy and invasive species from Florida that might do well in a vegan’s salad bowl, but causes extensive problems in lakes and waterways.
Hydrilla also has much in common with the federal government: It grows and grows, and as it increases in size all surrounding activity slowly grinds to a halt as a result of silt buildup and tendril blockage.
In Quantico Creek hydrilla is so extensive it’s impossible for boaters to cross and the alien vegetation has crowded out white lilies, swans and crabs.
Unfortunately the creek touches a number of jurisdictions so agreeing on a solution is going to be difficult. If the problem is solved, everyone wants credit but if there are problems no one wants to take the blame. Plus, anytime a political decision takes place outdoors, it attracts “environmentalists” with all the attendant scare stories, warnings and potential lawsuits.
However, I have a suggestion with two advantages in that it saves time and eliminates hydrilla. Simply call the Montclair Property Owners Assn. (MPOA) because it solved the very same problem over ten years ago
Back in 1994 Lake Montclair was rapidly becoming Swamp Montclair. Hydrilla covered approximately 45 percent of the lake. Lakefront property owners were rapidly losing the use of the lake. After easing into the water — jumping was out of the question since it was like leaping into a bowl of mold chowder — you felt like Moses in the bulrushes. The obnoxious plant would rub against your bare legs like a sex harasser on Metro’s Red line.
The MPOA was offered the same three options the politicians are considering. The first is harvesting. Think John Deere combines in the water. Unfortunately, this option is particularly attractive to politicians because it’s perpetual. You don’t eliminate the hydrilla; you just give it a yearly styling.
In fact, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has been running a harvesting program on the Potomac for almost 40 years. The Army Corps of Engineers (the same experts in charge of levies in New Orleans!) mows the river annually and everyone involved is happy. Politicians get to appropriate and show “concern” for the problem and the Corps of Engineers gets to justify its budget. A win–win for everyone but the taxpayers.
Montclair could have purchased a huge harvesting machine and donated the annual hydrilla crop to the school lunch program. But someone has to operate the harvester, repair the harvester and store the harvester, which means the cost never ends. Appealing to government but a problem for the private sector.
The second option is always carp. Montclair tried neutered Japanese carp in an effort to harvest hydrilla the natural way. I used to throw rice off the dock in an effort to entice passing carp into my section of the lake, but it never worked. And neither did the carp.
It could have been neutered carp suffer from a testosterone deficit that affects their appetite or maybe they were just resentful after losing their manhood. Or it could have been the hydrilla infestation was so extensive solving the problem would have required a concentration of carp dense enough to allow one to walk across the lake without getting your feet wet.
I’m reasonably sure the politicians won’t opt for carp either, not because it’s ineffective, but because it’s tough to have their photo taken hugging a live fish.
The last option is the one that works: herbicide treatment. Naturally this choice put the victims of hysterical “environmentalist” indoctrination into a tizzy because it introduces a chemical into a liquid. Of course adding salt to your soup does the same thing, but “environmentalists” are immune to analogy.
The Montclair greenies were joined by fishermen who had no problem with property owners losing the use of the lake as long as they could persuade a bass to stop hiding in the hydrilla long enough for them to hook it.
After approximately a year of debate (light speed in political terms) the MPOA board realized hydrilla was also adding to the cost of lake dredging; the association’s largest recurring expense. So in late 2000 the MPOA board approved a treatment with a chelated copper herbicide. Problem solved without wasting tax dollars or time. It was a perfect conservative solution: local, effective and cost–conscious. Which is another reason Mayor Foreman should call Montclair ASAP.
He’s concerned that eliminating hydrilla could cost Dumfries half its annual $4 million budget. Montclair treated an entire 110-acre lake for only $20,730.00.