Ed Parten, Randy Kindler, Ray Scott and several other local fishermen recently held a telephone fundraising campaign to raise money for the Tennessee Valley Authority for the rent of their Mechanical Harvester used on Lake Bastrop to demonstrate the need in Texas for this machine. The harvester was just the tool needed to rid the lake of unwanted aquatic vegetation without resorting to chemical warfare, which was previously felt to be the answer. The chemicals used in Texas lakes included 2-4,D, Sonar, and Fluridane, all of which are herbicides that can cause very serious problems for lake dwellers, not to mention the fish that we’re supposed to be preserving! Recently, Governor George Bush, an angler of some repute, intervened to postpone the application of chemicals to kill Hydrilla in Lake Bastrop. Bush arranged for the Lower Colorado River Authority to borrow a Hydrilla Harvester from the Tennessee Valley Authority. Ray Scott, founder of Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, told the Texas B.A.S.S. Federation, “The harvester is a state-of-the-art machine and costs $150,000-but the TVA will loan it to us for the cost of transportation and the operator.” The demonstration of this machine was held June 10-11 of this year and everyone including Gov. Bush was delighted with what they saw. This machine reportedly can cut one acre of Hydrilla per hour to a depth of five to six feet. It has a cutting width of up to seven feet and weighs up to 14,000 lbs. It cuts the vegetation, squeezes the water from it, shreds it, then puts the shredded vegetation back in the water. The harvester does not hurt the fish population either, according to the Department of Natural Resources in Minnesota, where the harvester has been used for years. The demonstration on Lake Bastrop has started a fervor in the fishing community that has never been seen. Pat McCarty, a tournament fisherman and editor of this magazine, says, “I’ve never seen so many different fishing organizations come together over a single issue in my 25 years in this industry.” There has been a great deal of support for the use of non-chemical methods of Hydrilla and other nuisance aquatic vegetation. Texas Black Bass Unlimited (TBBU), Texas Association of Bass Clubs (TABC), Bass Federation of Texas, Better Aquatics in Texas (BAIT), the Clean Water Action Committee, Honey Hole Magazine, Metro Leagues of Bass Clubs, Cen-Tex Bass Associations and other concerned groups from all over the country have all united in their common interest to preserve our fishing resources in Texas and an organization was formed from the union of these interests called Sensible Management of Aquatic Resources Together (SMART). The telephone campaign generated over $10,000 from a total of 315 donors from across the nation. A photocopy of each check along with a list of who the check is from and where they live will be sent to Gov. Bush to try to generate government support for this issue as well. A check was written to the TVA for $8000 to cover the rental of their harvester and the remainder was placed into a fund that has been earmarked for the purchase of a harvester for Texas. The Wallop Breaux Foundation is a federal organization that a percentage of all of our cost on fishing supplies goes toward. If a community shows the united concern in a conservation project in any part of the United States, this foundation has been set up to assist in the purchase of necessary equipment, according to Parten. The foundation will match funds at a rate of 3-1. As Parten puts it, “To be SMART and work together, we can raise, this year, $62,500, and with the three-to-one matching funds of the Wallop Breaux Foundation, this will equate to $250,000. Once the funds have been raised, our plans are to purchase a mechanical harvester to meet the needs and specifications of the fisheries and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Also, to design a trailer to haul the harvester and to purchase a truck to pull them.” This is the goal of all those involved in this project, he says. “Texas fishermen are united on this issue.” Parten expects to purchase and have a harvester in operation by the Spring of 1999 to use as it’s needed. A fundraising dinner is planned on Aug. 14th at the Hotel Sofitel in north Houston for this cause. It will be called “An Evening with Ray Scott” and Ray Scott will be the keynote speaker. A 1999 Dodge Quad-Cab Duly Pickup will be raffled off at the dinner. See ya’ there!
– Texas Saltwater Fishing Guide