Invasive lily plant causing a danger in Oklahoma lakes

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STILLWATER, Okla. – Lake Carl Blackwell is a popular spot for boaters this summer. Experts say it also seems to be a popular place for a certain type of invasive plant.

It’s called the yellow floating heart.

“They wrapped around your legs. If you’re trying to swim, they will pull you down,” said Gary Powell, who has been a leaseholder at Lake Carl Blackwell for five years.

In addition to being a problem for swimmers, Powell says the plant gets stuck in boat motors, leading to expensive repairs.

Staff members with Oklahoma State University are trying to tackle the problem before it gets worse.  They say it could spread to other lakes across the state.

“We’re not sure how it came to be in Lake Carl Blackwell, but it is very invasive. It is something that we need to try to eradicate,” said Chief Michael Robinson, with OSU Public Safety.

“We shouldn’t be moving this plant from one lake to another. It is a pretty plant, but that doesn’t mean you need to have it in your pond,” added Micah Holmes, with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

The plant is not harmful to people or wildlife, but it can be a nuisance and keep people from enjoying their normal lake activities.

“It’s a real problem if you wanna ski through that area or just get to the back of the cove to fish,” said Holmes.

“They were significantly taking over the entire waterway here where we essentially had no access to our boat dock. They’ve done a great job coming out last year and spraying them,” said Powell.

They plan to spray again this year on July 9, and that process should take about three days.

“We will apply the herbicide two feet under the surface of the water where it will be absorbed by the roots of the plant,” said Robinson.

He added it’s not harmful to fish or people. He also noted the lake is a water source for Oklahoma State, but residents don’t need to be concerned with the safety of their water.

“The EPA has declared that the herbicide that we’re using is not harmful. It’s perfectly appropriate to use in drinking water,” said Robinson.

Robinson said the EPA is not requiring them to test the water, but they plan to do so anyway for safety precautions.

During this time, the lake will stay open, and all activities will continue as normal.

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