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Sean Lusk and other biologists have been hard at work the past two years planting, potting and growing aquatic vegetation in an effort to restore the once vibrant fishery at DeGray Lake.

DeGray was once known for thick beds of aquatic vegetation, which included nonnative species such as hydrilla that grew to 20 feet deep in some places and caused issues with boating and other recreation.

In 2008 and 2009, extremely low water throughout winter exposed the root systems of this vegetation, killing much of it. Spring rain in each of those years flooded the system quickly, placing what vegetation remained under many feet of muddy water with very little sunlight penetration, snuffing it out.

Lusk, an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission fisheries biologist at the Hot Springs regional office and avid angler, said Game and Fish staff has put hundreds of hours into trying to get aquatic grasses back into DeGray to improve available habitat for bass, crappie and other sport fish. Their latest attempt includes some innovative floating enclosures to give plants a jump start.

The commission has worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for years to reestablish beneficial aquatic vegetation and add other forms of cover to the lake when we could, Lusk said.

“But getting native vegetation to come back has been a big challenge.”

Print Headline: Project restores vegetation at DeGray

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