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Lake Environment

We're pleased to present these columns dealing with the environmental issues facing Lake Gaston. Currently they are prepared by Aquatics Extension Associate, Justin Nawrocki. He is an Aquatics Extension Associate at North Carolina State University with responsibilities in aquatic invasive species mapping, monitoring, and management in North Carolina and Virginia. You can reach him by email at

Citizen Science and its Importance to Lake Gaston

Date Updated: 
Mon, 08/17/2015

Let me start by introducing myself, I am Justin Nawrocki and have taken over the NC State extension associate position for Lake Gaston. I have been involved in the aquatics field for 12 years working as a commercial applicator, graduate student at NC State as well as a research associate. I am excited to work with the diverse group of people that recreate on and call Lake Gaston home.

Lake Environment: Troublesome Black Mats from Beneath

Date Updated: 
Thu, 07/10/2014

When thinking of aquatic weeds in Kerr Lake and Lake Gaston, most of us are aware of the usual culprits such as Hydrilla. Another invader, however, might not be as well-known by lake users and residents and can have even more severe impacts than its counterparts.

Lake Environment: The TRUTH About Aquatic Herbicides

Date Updated: 
Tue, 06/17/2014

The use of chemicals for controlling aquatic weeds is highly effective, but just how safe are they for the environment and you? Each year chemical control of aquatic weeds, particularly hydrilla, occur on our local water bodies. This week we will talk, in depth, about the responsible use of aquatic herbicides.

Lake Environment: The Rusty Crayfish

Date Updated: 
Tue, 04/01/2014

We often talk about invasive species in our posts, most often plants. However, a new invader crustacean is threatening North Carolina and Virginia waters. The Rusty Crayfish, an invasive crayfish, has invaded the Catawba and Broad Rivers and associated water bodies in western North Carolina. Although only a few hundred miles from it's native range in the Ohio river, the rusty crayfish can have detrimental impacts to North Carolina and Virginia waters, including Kerr Lake and Lake Gaston.

Lake Environment: The GRASS Carp

Date Updated: 
Mon, 02/10/2014

If I told you that a creature nearly 5 feet long, up to 80 pounds, and capable of eating nearly 150% of it's body weight A DAY was lurking in Lake Gaston (and now Kerr Lake), you would likely be concerned.... Well, in actuality there IS a creature such as this that you share the water with in many reservoirs, lake, and ponds across the United States. Don't rush out of the water just yet however....

Lake Environment: Winter to-do list

Date Updated: 
Mon, 12/02/2013

It's winter and many of you are spending much more time indoors. That warm summer sun certainly seems like a distant memory. Lounge chairs have been stacked, floats deflated and tucked away in the shed, and the busy sounds of summer have been quieted by the bitter cold. For many of you, this is a peaceful and relaxing time of year. A little downtime is definitely in order.

Lake Environment: Hydrilla Here, Hydrilla There, Hydrilla EVERYWHERE!

Date Updated: 
Mon, 10/14/2013

In recent months, we have talked almost exclusively about hydrilla in Kerr Lake and Lake Gaston, but what about the rest of the state? Today we will talk about why hydrilla isn't JUST a local problem. Despite a multitude of advancements in aquatic plant management over the past few decades, we still seem to be seeing the problem invader spreading more and more with each passing year.

Lake Environment: Hydrilla Linked to Deadly Disease

Date Updated: 
Wed, 09/11/2013

The impacts of hydrilla and other invasive species are many, but research in the past few decades sheds light on the potentially "deadly" impact of such aquatic plants. In 1995, researchers began to notice the sudden isolated deaths of various birds including the bald eagle around DeGray Lake, Arkansas. Although unknown at the time, the cause was Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy (AVM), a neurological disease that affects various waterbirds and their predators.

Lake Environment: "It's a bird!... It's a plane!.... It's A .... well, I suppose its a Bird"

Date Updated: 
Tue, 08/20/2013

Flying high above only to dive at terminal speed and take fish from the water’s surface, a bird familiar to many of us can be seen all around Gaston and Kerr Lakes. This week we will talk about the Osprey, a bird commonly seen soaring over shorelines or standing in huge stick nests.

Lake Environment: What "Digging in the Mud" tells us about the future for hydrilla

Date Updated: 
Tue, 08/06/2013

Many of you have undoubtedly heard and/or seen a small boat with a large "water cannon" sprayer on the front out on the waters of Lake Gaston and Kerr Lake. The "crew" have repeatedly jammed a large t-shaped pipe into the ground (seen above), pulling up endless amounts of mucky sediment as if searching for gold. However, it isn't prospectors out looking for their own fortunes, but rather scientists assessing the current state of Hydrilla in various areas across the lake.