More boat ramps open at pelahatchie bay after salvinia invasion

By NIKKI ROWELL,

Pearl River Valley Water Supply District (PRVWSD) board of directors voted last week to reopen four additional boat ramps and a kayak ramp in the Pelahatchie Bay area of the Barnett Reservoir.

The decision to slowly reopen boat ramps comes on the heels of a meeting of the task force dealing with giant salvinia in the reservoir, including officials from the PRVWSD board and biologists from Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and Mississippi State University.

The public launch at Highway 471, the ramp at Pelahatchie Bay Trading Post and the ramps in the Harbour View and Fox Bay subdivisions will all reopen.

These ramps and the ramp at Pelahatchie Shore Park will return to normal operating hours of sunrise to sunset.

The kayak launch at Turtle Point off Scenic Drive will also reopen.

All other access points to Pelahatchie Bay will remain closed.

While no new outbreaks of giant salvinia have been discovered, efforts are ongoing to prevent the spread of the plant and work is continuing to eradicate the reservoir of it completely.

Officials continue to remind the public of the importance of inspecting their boats for signs of vegetation and washing.

They are continuing their “clean, drain and dry” campaign to remind visitors to wash their boats upon leaving the water each time.

Vegetation can sometimes get caught between the trailer and the boat and in other hard to see areas. There are many places where vegetation can get stuck, and boaters should remove any plants they see and wash with soap and warm water.

That is the most effective way to remove all vegetation, as one small piece of a plant could cause it to spread.

Giant salvinia could live up to a week outside of the water and even longer than that on a moist surface.

“We’ve had very few cases of boats coming back with any vegetation, and none of those involved giant salvinia,” PRVWSD director John Sigman said. “If we can continue to see those results and see that boaters are helping us, then we hope that keeping the lake low, basically stranding and drying the salvinia on exposed ground, then we can wipe this plant out.”

According to PRVWSD, the reservoir will remain at 296 feet above sea level in an effort to kill the plant.

More than $150,000 has been spent on efforts to remove the giant salvinia, including booms to prevent the plant from transferring to other areas of the lake, spraying, flame throwers and more.

“With the low lake level, we are reminding boaters to be extra vigilant while on the lake,” Sigman said.

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