Mucking Around with Aquatic Plants in Claytor Lake: What Have We Learned?
Aquatic vegetation is an important habitat component in southern reservoirs, but native vegetation in these important fisheries is often displaced by unwanted non-native species, creating less desirable habitat conditions. Claytor Lake, a 1,764 ha mainstem reservoir of the New River in Pulaski County, Virginia, contained a number of native aquatic plants historically, but was colonized by hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) in the early 2000’s. Hydrilla control during the early 2010’s using triploid grass carp (Ptenopharyngodon idella) resulted in hydrilla suppression and the loss of remaining native aquatic vegetation beds in Claytor Lake. While the management plan guiding hydrilla control discussed native vegetation restoration as an outcome, additional partnerships were created and grant funding was awarded to make the dream a reality. After 5 years of native vegetation restoration work on this reservoir, we share our story as an example of what can be accomplished when diverse constituencies converge in natural resource management. Potential impacts of the Claytor Lake triploid grass carp stocking on native aquatic plants in the Upper New River will be discussed, as well as spin-off effects on the aquatic integrity of the New River, as well as the potential for native plant reintroduction in the Upper New River.