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Hydrilla Discovered at Cave Run Lake Near Morehead

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Officials have discovered the presence of hydrilla, an invasive aquatic plant, in several areas of Cave Run Lake near Morehead. State and federal officials are asking boaters and anglers using Cave Run Lake to take precautions to help prevent the spread of this plant.

Hydrilla can grow 1 inch a day and double its size every two weeks. Uncontrolled hydrilla eventually can choke out native plants, harm fishing and clog waterways for boaters by creating dense mats on the surface. Cave Run Lake currently has pockets of the plant around the Warix, Zilpo and Alfrey’s boat ramps. It has also been spotted along Zilpo Flats and within several small embayments in the mid-lake area.

Cave Run Lake joins Dewey, Kentucky, Paintsville, Greenbo and Carr Creek lakes with established stands of hydrilla.

Hydrilla easily spreads from plant fragments taking root. Even a small, 1-inch fragment of the plant can start a new colony if it drops off a boat or trailer and into the water. Since the heaviest concentrations of hydrilla in Cave Run Lake are near the boat ramps, biologists believe contamination by a boat or trailer launched the invasive plant in the lake.

Boaters and personal water craft users can help prevent the spread of hydrilla by taking a few precautions after visiting Cave Run Lake: Simply remove all plant material off boats, motors and trailers after pulling the boat from the water. If pieces of plant remain, consider spraying and scrubbing off watercraft and trailers at home.

Anglers and boaters visiting Cave Run Lake should make sure their boats are clear of any plant material before launching into the waters.

A hydrilla tuber can grow a plant even after being out of the water for several days. A piece of the plant in undisturbed soil can lie dormant for more than four years and still sprout.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is working with the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to craft a treatment plan for the lake.

For more information and identifying photographs of hydrilla, visit the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov and search under the keyword, “hydrilla.”