Drawdown Set To Combat Exotic Aquatics at Steinhagen – Lake Mohave

FORT WORTH, Texas — In an effort to combat nuisance levels of
non-native aquatic vegetation at B. A. Steinhagen Lake in Jasper and
Tyler Counties, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, in coordination with
the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, plans a summer drawdown of the
lake.

– Lake Mohave

The normal elevation for the lake is 82.5′ above mean sea level. The schedule for the summer 2006 drawdown is as follows:

  • May 10-20, draw lake down to elevation 76′ above msl.
  • May 20-July 31, lake will remain at elevation 76′ above msl.
  • Aug. 1-Sept. 15, draw lake down below elevation 60′ above msl.
  • Sept. 15-30, begin bringing lake back up to full pool.

This schedule is dependant on a number of factors, most notably
weather (the drawdown will take place during the peak of the 2006
hurricane season), and is subject to modification.

B. A. Steinhagen Lake is a shallow 10,000 acre multi-purpose
reservoir on the Neches and Angelina Rivers, impounded in 1951. It
captures nutrient-rich run-off from East Texas and has slowly silted in
over the years, becoming infested with exotic vegetation such as water
hyacinth, hydrilla, and common salvinia, to such a point that
recreation and hydro-electric generation have become greatly hampered
during most of the summer and fall.

Winter drawdowns of the lake to control vegetation have been used in
the past decade with limited success. During these, the lake was
lowered to an elevation 76′ above msl in hopes of getting a killing
freeze on the exposed vegetation. The elevation of 76′ above msl is the
lowest elevation where hydro-electric generation can take place, but
results of past drawdowns indicate it was not low enough, and hard
freezes were difficult to plan for. Aquatic herbicide has been used for
years to keep access points and boat lanes open, but controlling the
lake-wide problem with herbicide is neither cost effective nor
environmentally sound.

As a result, the Corps, in cooperation with the Inland Fisheries and
Wildlife Division offices of TPWD, the Lower Neches Valley Authority,
and the Southwestern Power Administration, has decided to employ an
intense summer drawdown in an effort to strand the vegetation on dry
land and desiccate it in the East Texas sun. This procedure replicates
past conditions at the lake, before the impoundment of Sam Rayburn
Reservoir and the addition of the R. D. Willis Powerhouse at Town
Bluff. The lake would historically reach extremely low elevations
during the late summer, often below 60′ above msl, because of low flows
on the Neches and Angelina Rivers and water demands of downstream users.

This drastic elevation change, especially the low levels during
summer, inhibited growth of nuisance aquatic vegetation. A more stable
lake level was possible as a result of the dependable river flow on the
Angelina after impoundment of Sam Rayburn in 1965. The need to keep
Steinhagen at a steady high elevation to allow the powerhouse to run
efficiently allowed for the nuisance aquatic vegetation to flourish and
eventually take over during the last two decades. Reduction of this
high level of non-native vegetation should improve recreational
opportunities, wildlife habitat (especially waterfowl), fish production
and hydro-electric generation.

As water levels drop, potential hazards can be exposed or get closer
to the surface. Boaters are urged to exercise caution and be vigilant
in watching for these dangers. Never travel at high speeds in areas you
are unfamiliar with and always wear an approved personal flotation
device. If possible, never boat alone and always let someone know where
you are going and when you expect to return. Visitors should be aware
that all boat ramps on the lake will be unusable during the drawdown,
and the two state ramps on the Angelina River (Bevilport and the SH 63
bridge) will be difficult, at best.

Low lake levels may expose archeological or historical properties
and artifacts; however, the Corps cautions that destruction or
disturbance of archeological properties, including removal of
artifacts, from federal lands, are subject to criminal charges and
civil penalties under the Archeological Resources Protection Act.
Similarly, the removal or destruction of any artifact or historic
property is subject to a citation and fine under Title 36 Code of
Federal Regulations. The Corps asks that lake visitors leave artifacts
where found and report the location to the lake office.

The use of metal detectors is prohibited except on designated
beaches at Town Bluff. Visitors should also know that driving any type
of vehicle, including all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles, along the
shoreline or exposed lake bed is prohibited and the owner/driver can
receive a citation and fine.

For further information, call the Town Bluff Project office at (409)
429-3491 or TPWD at (409) 384-6894 (Wildlife office) or 409-384-5231
(Martin Dies, Jr. State Park).

For more information call Clay Church, Public Affairs, at 817-886-1310 or visit the Fort Worth District website.

– Lake Mohave

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