NON-TOXIC Aquatic Weed Management Advocates

They came from the hills of Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia in reply to a call for help from Texas anglers. Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone? No, even bigger heroes, Ray Scott, the “Father of Professional Bass Fishing,” and Tennessee Valley River Authority Aquatic Weed Manager, Doug Murphy. Who sent out the cry for help? Ed Parten. Who’s Ed Parten? Ask any bass fisherman in the State of Texas who Ed Parten is and nine out of ten will tell you he’s the guy that led the battle to keep Carp out of Lake Conroe. Though he lost that battle he has won many, many others. No individual has done more for bass fishing in Texas than Ed Parten. If there’s a project going on to improve Texas’ fisheries you can bet your last dollar that “Big Ed” will be involved, probably organizing the project. Standing with Parten, Ray Murski of Strike King Lures and thousands of concerned Texas anglers. Bass Club members, Texas Black Bass Unlimited, Texas Association of Bass Clubs, Honey Hole and many other Bass Fishing Organizations. Why was the call sent out? To prevent the killing of another Texas Lake. This time Bastrop, less than a hundred miles from the Alamo. Makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up just writing about it. Who’s killing our lakes? Chemical and Power Generating Companies. Wielding the kind of power and influence that comes from selling “Toxic Chemicals,” under the labels of “Aquatic Herbicides,” to state government and electric power generating companies for $2,000.00 per gallon, Chemical Companies have influenced River Authorities and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department to pour thousands of gallons a year into Texas lakes and rivers. Many of these water bodies are used as water supplies for Texas towns. Anglers agree that aquatic weeds need to be controlled. What they don’t agree on is using “Toxic Chemicals” to control them. There are other ways. Smart management programs use a variety of other means of controlling unwanted vegetation. One such means is “Mechanical Harvesters.” Lakes in the north central United States, that have used mechanical control say that they have enhanced aquatic life in their lakes and the water remains clear and clean. Most lakes need aquatic vegetation to filter the water and control bottom erosion. Eradication leaves a leaves without any vegetation for habitat or filtration. After a few years the lakes are taken over with “Algae Bloom” and become murky and are unhealthy fisheries. Most of the lakes with a history of “Mechanical Management” report enhanced game fish populations. Back to our “heroes” at the “Battle of Bastrop.” Ray Scott wrote a letter to Texas Governor George W. Bush asking Governor Bush to declare a moratorium on the use of Toxic Herbicides and implement a feasibility study on the use of mechanical devices to manage unwanted aquatic weeds. Bush agreed and Scott arranged with the Tennessee Valley River Authority to bring a “Mechanical Harvester” from Tennessee to Lake Bastrop for a test. The test results were very positive. In less than two days all aquatic vegetation was mowed down to five feet below the surface. Not one fish was killed and a stand of sub-surface vegetation was left for aquatic habitat and filtration. No this didn’t put another $100,000.00 or so in the Chemical Companies bank accounts but it did cost $8,000.00. $8,000.00 to bring a machine all the way from Tennessee and back and cut all the vegetation in the lake in less than a week. Who paid the expenses? You might think the power company that wanted the weeds gone in the first place, they’d have bought the “Toxic Chemicals.” Or you might think the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department or the Texas Water Quality Board or the EPA. No. Heroes paid for it. Over two hundred anglers and fishing industry companies, that’s who paid for it. In a little over three days checks from $5 to $1,000 flooded in. A pretty impressive display of concern and generosity by any measure. Where do we go from here? SMART, it stands for Sensible Management of Aquatic Resources Together. Ray Scott, Ed Parten, Ray Murski, Lindy Ellison, Randy Kindler, Pat McCarty, Texas Black Bass Unlimited, Texas Association of Bass Clubs and many, many others put their heads together and formulated a plan. The plan is to raise money to purchase a harvester and demonstrate its effectiveness in managing aquatic weeds. SMART is the name of the organization formed to implement this plan. You can be a part of it. If you have time to volunteer for working with the fund raising committee you can call “Big Ed” at 713-648-6152. Or you just want to send a contribution to the fund you can mail a check to SMART at PO Box 11729, Houston, Texas 77293. Fund Raiser. ” An Evening with Ray Scott.” The first fund raising event will be held August 14, 1998 at the Hotel Sofitel Greenspoint in Houston, Texas. Other pioneers of the bass fishing industry already scheduled to join Scott in Houston at this event are; Roland Martin – Legendary angler; all-time tournament winner and TV Superstar, Bob Cobb – 30-year pioneer with B.A.S.S. Bassmasters Magazine and Bassmasters TV, Glen Lau – Renowned cinematographer and creator of the award-winning epic “Big Mouth Forever” and host of his own TNN TV show, Earl Bentz – Founder of Triton Boats and 30 year innovator and pioneer in the quality and performance of bass boats, Bill Dance – Super Star and bass fishing pioneer celebrity. The list of “Bass Fishing Super Stars” is still growing. Tickets are $100. A limit of 500 tickets will be sold and each ticket holder will be entered into a drawing for a 1999 Dodge Quad Cab truck. For information email tbbu@tbbu.com

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