A Long Day Chasing Zebras

| July 19, 2012

Clean rocks at the Isle du Bois fishing pier 2012
Notice something? Clean water and no trash at a public fishing pier at Isle du Bois Park on Lake Ray Roberts, Texas.

As a photographer, and a student of history, I thought the day after the ground shaking announcement of zebra mussels in Lake Ray Roberts, and below the lake in the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, would be the correct time to document what the lake looks like – for future generations, or future reference – to squeeze out any emotional melodrama.

News Media on Lake Ray Roberts recording the news of zebra mussels 2012.
Media trucks, uplinks, and helicopters buzzed around Ray Roberts much of the day today.

Not surprisingly, helicopters and media were all over the place today, recording the new advance of zebra mussels and trying to wrap it all up tightly in a nice little two minute package.

What I found amazing throughout the day was how beautiful the lake looked while a whirling dervish spun around it. It was typically beautiful and clean, appearing impervious to what lies beneath.

There are experts, and people who know nothing, and people who think they know everything about the zebra mussel – everywhere. And it’s almost impossible to know which is which, unless you come across folks who admittedly have never even heard of a zebra mussel, much less what they can do to a lake. When you come across someone who thinks they know more than they do, they can spread inaccurate information quite quickly to those stressed people who’ve never even heard of the invasives.

The Dam Store seemed like a good place to stop in and try to get a feel for how the locals, those effected most, were doing. I broke the news to them there, and tried to explain what is essentially the unknown – how the entire invasion plays out.

Interview at the Ray Roberts release into the Elm Fork of the Trinity River.
Interview with Cliff Moore underway today at the release from Ray Roberts into the Elm Fork of the Trinity River – where zebra mussels were also found.

Down at the dam Cliff Moore, of Animal Services, Inc., was looking for the zebra mussels under rocks in shadier or deeper parts of the rip rap where water is released – the Elm Fork of the Trinity – to continue to Lewisville Lake-Lake Dallas. He was getting ready for the arrival of a camera crew from Channel 8 News from Dallas. At this stage in their progress, they are tiny and hard to locate. As much as I wanted him to find a cluster, he later found a few tiny samples that appear to be true to identification.

All of this hardly matters really. What could have been prevented, or slowed significantly, perhaps for several more years, is now here. The history of Lake Ray Roberts is forever altered because government officials were not pro active, and showed in clearest detail what is wrong with our government – up close and personal – in the ineptitude and mishandling of the zebra mussel outbreak at Lake Texoma, Texas. Now, there’s a price to pay, and they all will keep their jobs, and we continue to pay for their ineptitude – in the most direct terms.

When you have had the rug pulled out from under you, as I / we have at Ray Roberts, it seems a lot like losing a relative. For those of you reading for the first time, Ray Roberts is the water I spend about 95-percent of my time, and where my fledgling guiding business was just getting started. Now, who knows? We have time before total meltdown, but how much time, and what will it look like in a year, two or five?

And lest those fine folks south of us, daisy chained to the Trinity River, forget, you are going to go through the same loss process too – denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. I know I hit all five today, but continue to back through these in no particular order. Get ready.
Boaters on Lake Ray Roberts which tested positive for zebra mussels.
Boaters boat. Skiers ski. Fishers fish, and there’s nothing pro-active whatsoever going on at Lake Ray Roberts to prevent the spread of the invasive zebra mussel.

Nonetheless, I did my job and documented locations like the marina, boat ramps, piers and other locations, in order to document the advance of the zebra mussel on Lake Ray Roberts. There will be more to come, but for now life goes on as usual on Lake Ray Roberts. Boats unload and load at the boat ramp, probably not even knowing they are in water containing measurable invasive zebra mussels. They load their boats and drive off. Where to I wonder?

It’s too late for Lake Ray Roberts, and the correct thinking would seem to be to go pro-active (if not militant) right here, right now. Mandatory boat washes on the way out at a fair price that pays for the equipment could be a reasonable start.

Due to the nearness of this national story, you can imagine there will be a lot of 1’s and 0’s devoted to it. So, let me apologize in advance if this bores you. Sure we’re going to be fishing, just not in the same old places anymore it seems. And now, there’s going to be an ample amount of time devoted to what each of us can do to clean our gear and help prevent the spread of zebra mussels in Texas.

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Category: Causes, Life Observed, Science and Environmental, TECHNICAL, Zebra Mussels

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I write. I photograph. I fish, and I live.

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