Giant salvinia threatens ecosystem in Columbus County, task force formed to eradicate

Great Salvinia plant threatens to kill off ecosystem

COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Typically seeing plants growing is a sign of a good environment, except when it comes to this weed, giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta).

It sucks the oxygen out of water and deprives it of valuable nutrients that everything from fish to farmland need to survive.

It’s on the federal and state noxious list, meaning it’s harmful to ecosystems and can’t be bought or sold legally.

“This weed is taking nutrients out of the lake so up under this biomass we don’t know exactly what’s going on but no sunlight is getting in and obviously if no sunlight is getting in nothing can grow,” said Dalton Dockery, director of the Columbus County Cooperative Extension Service.

Giant salvinia covered a landowner’s pond entirely within a matter of months. That’s the reason Dockery helped create a task force to get rid of the weed.

But how did get here to begin with?

“If it gets stuck on a boat propeller or a bird, like an eagle picks it up or drops it, each one of these nodules can produce tons of plants,” said Dockery.

It’s a problem Pender County had years back. Now the task force hopes that experience of fighting the weed will help them eradicate it as well before the lifeblood of an ecosystem is weeded out.

“If that base is disturbed, it could throw the whole ecosystem out of whack,” said Dockery. “You may start having plants that live in the water dying and you could certainly have a fish kill if you aren’t careful.”

Dockery says there are ways to get rid of the giant salvinia, but it could take some time. He hopes to have it gone once and for all by the Spring.

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