Draining the Cove to fight an intruder

By: Jim Freeman
By: Jim Freeman

Caryville, Campbell County (WVLT) -- If you were wondering why you haven't seen much of Cove Lake in Caryville lately, it's because park officials have nearly drained it.

The reason is because of some native growth.

They growth apparently grows so easily, that at least one biology teacher at Campbell County High School grows it in her classroom.

"This is what Cove Lake's been having so much trouble with," said Shelley King.

The bio teacher was referring to Eurasian Watermilfoil, more simply known as milfoil.

You could compare it to one of our regions most pesky and abundant above ground growths.

"As far as the pest level that it has, I would compare it to kudzu," King said.

And the growth feels at home in Campbell County.

"Approximately 85% of this area that you see on this side of the lake is covered with Eurasian milfoil," said Kim Moore, Park Ranger II at Cover Lake State Park.

As officials battle the problem at Cove Lake, Biology students at Campbell County High are getting hands-on experience.

"The fact that we can go down there and we can look at this and we can actually figure out what we could do to reduce the amount of milfoil is an extension of what we read in Biology books," said Brandon Sharp, president of Campbell County High's Biology club.

Ranger Moore said the plant reproduces spreads very quickly and can take over a small lake in just a couple of years.

"And it doesn't create an environment that is always conducive to fish and other plant species as well as water fawned species," said Ranger Moore.

This is only the second time ever that Cove Lake has gone almost waterless, making it virtually impossible for park rangers to do this months water testing.

Even though they likely won’t be able to until mid-to-late February, Ranger Moore says it’s worth it.

"The lake draw down is probably the easiest way to maintain this milfoil,” he said. “Other than that, you'd have to use chemicals."

The rangers believe it was geese living in the park that originally introduced milfoil to Cove Lake.

They hope that by exposing the growth to the elements, namely freezing weather, it will rid the lake of most of the unwanted plant.

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