Salt Cedar Eradication Begins at Lake Meredith

Arlene Wimer, National Park Service
Arlene Wimer, National Park Service

The National Park Service is trying to eliminate a tree that sucks hundreds of gallons of water out of the ground every day.

Today they began eradication on the foreign salt cedar tree around what remains of Lake Meredith.

The salt cedar consumes five thousand acres along the lake, and this eradication process might take some time, but it's expected to be very efficient in eliminating the plant.

"We're hoping 85, 95 percent somewhere in there," said Arlene Wimer.

The salt cedar has already been eradicated from the New Mexico border all the way to Lake Meredith.

Today helicopters began spraying herbicides on the plant in order to wipe out the population and try and save the lake.

"I have no idea of exactly what our salt cedar are consuming, volume wise. We do know they consume a lot of water and we have a lot of salt cedar so you think it has a pretty good toll," said Wirmer.

The park service says the helicopters are the most advantageous way to demolish the plant.

The entire process has been funded by a $750 thousand grant the state gave the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority.

The state, the park service and CRMWA hope this will help rejuvenate the lake.

"It would be a natural process when the water comes up... and the water will come up. It's just a matter of time so we're planning ahead," said Wimer.

She says it will take about two years for the entire process to take place before the salt cedar is under control and able to be eliminated.

This is the most drastic measure the National Park Service and CRMWA have taken to get rid of the foreign plant species.

There are three helicopters working on spraying a herbicide over the vegetation at the lake.

The herbicide is only harmful to plants, but park officials say by next spring native plants will grow back and almost all the salt cedars will be completely dead.

In order to conduct such a massive eradication, the helicopters are necessary.

"There are just places you can see. up on the walls and stuff and it's not a safe place for hand crews to be with chain saws and stuff," says Arlene Wimer, National Park Service

This is the third time the National Park Service has tried to destroy the salt cedar.