Community helps restore Lake Livingston

LIVINGSTON, Texas — Anglers soon will enjoy better bass fishing at Lake Livingston, thanks to a community restoration effort involving local schools, garden clubs and bass organizations, as well as a $20,000 grant from Friends of Reservoirs.

The Lake Livingston Reservoir Fisheries and Riparian Habitat Enhancement Project focuses on establishing beneficial water willow. Since the lake was impounded in 1971, it has lost much of its vegetation, the quality of standing timber has diminished and turbidity has increased.

“We set the goal of raising 10,000 plants a year for 10 years, and estimated we would need 20 to 25 tanks to approach this number,” said Tom McDonough, project director and representative of the Piney Woods Lakes Chapter of Texas Master Naturalist.

McDonough and Mark Webb, a fisheries biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife, started planning the project in spring 2013. Other advisers for the project include Trinity River Authority, Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce and Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership.

“When you start a project of this size and scope, it does not take long to figure out you will need a lot of help for a lake covering 85,000-plus acres,” the director said.

That quickly came in the form of many eager partners, including nine school districts, which have committed to helping grow, care for and transplant the water willows. As the first to start production, Onalaska High School students completed building three aquatic tanks by mid-May.

As the plants are grown, they will be split every six weeks. When the tanks are full, students and other volunteers will plant two-thirds of them along the lake’s shoreline in 1 to 2 feet of water.

“We hope to have 25 tanks at the nine ISD (independent school district) campuses by year-end,” McDonough said.

Other partners include Onalaska Bass Club, Polk County Hookers, Texas Black Bass Unlimited, Texas Association of Bass Clubs, Texas State Bass Tournament, Coldspring Garden Club, San Jacinto Master Gardeners, Trinity Waters, Coldspring-San Jacinto County Chamber of Commerce and Polk County AgriLife 4-H Club.

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