EVANGELINE PARISH, La. (KLFY) — The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has scheduled a drawdown on Chicot Lake in Evangeline Parish for reduction of giant salvinia and for fish habitat improvement.

The water control structure is scheduled to open on Sept. 5, and the lake should empty at a rate of 1.5 inches per day. The water will be lowered to 43.2 feet mean sea level, which is 3 feet below normal pool stage. The Chicot Lake control gates are scheduled for closure on Dec. 31, to allow the lake to refill and ensure adequate water levels for springtime fish spawning.

Giant salvinia in an invasive plant species that grows rapidly to cover the surface of lakes and streams, spreading aggressively. It forms floating mats that shade and crowd out important native plants. Thick mats reduce oxygen content and degrade water quality for fish and other aquatic organisms. Mats impede boating, fishing and swimming and clog water intakes for irrigation and electrical generation.

During the drawdown, LDWF advises lake users to use caution as numerous obstructions are present.

The drawdown is not expected to eradicate the giant salvinia but is our most efficient and effective tool for reducing the overall amount of giant salvinia present. Drawdowns also expose organic “muck” that builds up on water bottoms to air/oxygen, accelerating the decay process, cycling nutrients and improving spawning habitat for many sportfish species.

Drawdowns are timed to take advantage of prevalent late summer, fall, and winter weather patterns. If favorable weather patterns do not occur, the effectiveness of the drawdown is reduced. For this reason, some drawdowns are very successful, while others are less effective.

For more information on Aquatic Vegetation Management at Chicot Lake, please see the Chicot Lake Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan.

For additional information regarding the drawdown, contact Brad Launey, LDWF Biologist, at blauney@wlf.la.gov or (337) 735-8712.