The Chena Slough has been slowly dying since it was cut off from its headwaters during construction of the Moose Creek Dam in the 1970's. Chena Slough is now a roughly 15 mile long channel, its first 3 miles completely clogged with native plants and debris, and the lower 5 miles filled with native plants as well as a new arrival, Elodea.
Thus far in this series on the restoration of Chena Slough, we've discussed the water, the weeds, and the war. In this part we will discuss the weapons being used. The Chena Slough is a local waterway located near North Pole, Alaska. It was recently found to be infested by an invasive species of aquatic vegetation, presumably an Elodea hybrid.
All eyes are (or should be) on the Chena Slough, "ground zero" of the first documented infestation of Elodea outside Eyak Lake.
Local officials held a meeting last week with one day's notice. I missed the notice, but 25 other people showed up and listened to an herbicide salesman tell how he could, for $600,000, over three years, apply the herbicide Fluridone to a 10 mile stretch of flowing water and eradicate what appears to be the most eradication-resistant aquatic plant species on Earth.
I only learned of the plan when I read the headlines June 18th, 2015:
Chena Lake herbicide proposal draws no opposition
Reading on, I learned it was not just Chena Lake, as the headline implied, but Chena Slough as well. The Chena Slough runs alongside my property. I use the water to irrigate my garden, my chickens drink the water, my bees drink the water. The moose in my freezer drank the water. My drinking water well is drilled about 100 feet from the edge of the slough.
The Chena Slough has seen some tough times over the past 50 years. From a vibrant, fast flowing channel of the second largest river in Alaska, to a small trickle of ground water. These changes were brought on by industrious engineers looking to stop annual floods that took out bridges, homes, and businesses when the Tanana River ran high.
The Chena Slough of today looks nothing like it did 50 years ago, it runs slow and clear, filled with aquatic vegetation that would not have survived in a fast-flowing, glacier-fed slough. The slough has been filling itself in, as all sloughs cut off from their headwaters will. The slower water is much more inviting to plant growth. A recent addition, "Elodea," has been cause for concern since its discovery in the Chena Slough system in 2010. In Part 2, we will take a look at Elodea and the other plants growing in the Chena Slough.
The Interior of Alaska is dominated by two large river systems: The Tanana and the Yukon. These two rivers form vast drainage systems and support an amazing array of plant and animal life. The rivers and lakes in these areas have been important for navigation and food, for both a subsistence lifestyle and commercial travel and harvest.
Recently, one of the tributaries to the Tanana River has come into some trouble. The going theory is that someone dumped their aquarium into the Chena Slough near the town of North Pole. The aquarium's fish surely died, if there were any, but the pretty plants it contained have taken over several miles of a slow-moving stream. Eradication efforts are underway to remove this invasive weed and restore flow to the Chena Slough. (See local newspaper article)
So far, these eradication efforts have revolved simply around pulling the weeds. This makes for great "photo-ops" but does little for removing the fast-growing weed. Recently it has been proposed to step the efforts up a notch by applying an aquatic herbicide, Fluridone, to the Chena Slough. Fluridone, the company salesman from Indiana tells us, is harmless to humans and [$600,000 worth of chemical...] should be very effective at removing trouble weeds from our local waterways.
Almost half-way! Easy week. A quiz and one writing assignment on "True Informed Consent" regarding subject selection for drug trials. I cannot imagine why a healthy person would sign up to take a newly devised drug so that Big Pharma can determine safety and dosage. They must get paid a lot. Have a look if you are considering being a guinea pig: