Splitting Water Willows Unites Volunteers

ONALASKA – Tuesday morning (6/30/2015) almost two dozen workers came to the Onalaska High School to separate and repot the American water-willow plants that have been growing since last September.

The pants are being grown at Onalaska and other area high schools as part of the Lake Livingston Friends of Reservoirs (LLFoR) project to replant native aquatic plants into the shallow areas of the local lake.

And when Project Director Tom McDonough asked for volunteers to hell with the separation and repotting, he did not realize they would turn out in such numbers, coming from the Polk County Master Naturalists, San Jacinto Master Gardeners, one Rotarian, several from Texas Black Bass Unlimited, Waterwood Boat Club, a few from the Polk County Hookers fishing club and Onalaska Mayor Roy Newport.

The work had the volunteers “getting their hands dirty’ and they separated the intertwined plant roots to and then repotted them.

Following a recent inspection of the plants growing in the aquatic tanks at the school organizers decided to change the potting process. It was determined that too much soil had leaked out of the pots through the drainage holes, so when the plants were repotted last week, a large coffee filter was placed in the pot before the dirt to provide a porous lining to hold the dirt mixture, which is 10 shovels full of clay to one bag of potting soil.

With such a large active group some were cleaning the tanks as the plants were taken to the splitters, who were working under tents to shade them from the sun. Others mixed the special soil and the stronger volunteers took it by the wheelbarrow full to the ladies, who are masterful at repotting.

One volunteer also checked for the small fish living in the tanks that eat the algae growth. The fish are bred by the special education class at OISD and they appeared healthy.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department had donated five flats of new water-willow stock from Joe Snows Aquatic Plant Farm in Argyle. The new plants were split and repotted and placed in one of the five large tanks at the school.

The OISD Agricultural Department has joined with the Friends of The Reservoirs to help restock Lake Livingston with native plants and they will be monitoring the tanks. Plans call for either another plant splitting in the fall or for taking some of the stock to plant in the Kickapoo Creek area of the lake, which is the next area scheduled to receive the plants.

For information about the program contact McDonough at 832-236-0723.

Local school districts currently active in the project include Livingston, Goodrich and Onalaska in Polk County and Shepherd and Coldspring-Oakhurst in San Jacinto County. The Corrigan-Camden school district in Polk County has requested aquatic tanks for the fall term.

The aquatic plant project is designed to pump new life into Lake Livingston and help attract more fishing tournaments. Once growing in the shallow areas of the lake, the water-willow plants will provide cover for small fish, allowing them to grow. It also will help filter sediment out of the water and its root structure will help prevent shoreline erosion.

Pots with coffee filtersLAKE PLANTS – After it was learned that top much of the soil was leaking out of the aquatic plant pots, coffee filters (pictured at left) were added to the repotting procedure last week. The filters will prevent the clay-soil mixture from leaving the pots through the drainage holes. During last week’s repotting effort at Onalaska High School, Onalaska Mayor Roy Newport (below, right) worked with other volunteers. Newport is shown placing newly potter American water-willow into one of the water tanks.Onalaska Mayor Planting







courtesy: Polk County Enterprise






Additional news about Lake Livingston Friends of Reservoirs from The Polk County Enterprise and the Welcome Guide

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