If looks could kill, Lake Carl Blackwell has a big, big problem according to a member of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Recently, the lake – located eight miles west of Stillwater – has been infested with an invasive plant known as ‘floating yellow heart.’ The area hasn’t seen the plant in 35 years and just now emerged again, said Bill Wentroth, the North Central Regional Fisheries Supervisor for the ODWC.
The plants genus is Nymphoids because of its close resemblance to the water lily, known as Nymphae. It has floating leaves with yellow or white petals that are covered in small hairs. Wentroth said though the plant is pretty, it is a major issue for Lake Carl Blackwell.
The plant grows in thick patches, limiting the oxygen supply for fish and other water species while causing problems for boaters if the plants were to get tangled in the motor.
A reason it is known as a water nuisance, with it making a comeback in several states, though primarily being a native Eurasian plant, is its ability to grow quickly and adapt to its environment.
Wentroth said if a piece attaches to a boat and breaks off on another part of the lake, floating yellow heart would start growing there. It doesn’t need much, even being able to grow from a single seed.
Because Oklahoma State University operates the lake, it has been made aware of the issue and recently spent around $1,000 to heavily spray the more infected areas in the coves like Blackjack Cove.
Wentroth said the spraying helped get rid of a lot of the plant but there is still a good amount out in the lake and with its ability to grow, it could get worse. While the park and OSU are working to stop the plants growth and eventually remove it from the ecosystem, Wentroth said it is imperative for boaters to check and clean their boats after visiting Lake Blackwell so it doesn’t spread to other lakes.
Until a stronger solution is found, the key is prevention of spreading as of now.
This story will continue to be updated when a solution is found.