- Associated Press - Monday, February 24, 2014

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) - Plans are slowly progressing on a solution to the growth in invasive fish species in Lake Yankton.

However, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission fisheries biologist Jeff Schuckman said there is a long way to go before tackling the proposed “chemical renovation,” a process that involves partial draining the lake and introducing a chemical meant to kill off the fish in the lake.

“We’ve had another meeting with the (Army Corps of Engineers), the state of South Dakota and the Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery,” Schuckman said. “We’re still in the planning stages and we’re hoping to move the project forward - shooting for a late-September timeframe - but we have a lot of planning and coordination to do that we’ll continue through the spring.”

The issue stems from the flooding that occurred along the Missouri River in 2011. During the flooding, species such as gizzard shad, grass carp, smallmouth and largemouth buffalo, bighead carp and silver carp were introduced into the lake, and their populations have since spiked.


Last August, the Press & Dakotan reported a proposal had been put forth to conduct a “chemical renovation,” Within hours, all of the lake’s fish - both game and invasive - would be dead and the lake is refilled. After around five to seven days, the toxicity of the lake subsides and new game fish would be introduced.

Entities involved in planning and execution of the renovation include the Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department.

Schuckman said many details of the operation need to be studied before a final plan can be put into action.

“We have a lot of things we need to work out with the Corps,” he said. “We don’t know how far they’re going to let us draw down. There’s some sampling that needs to be done - sampling upstream as well - and the guys in South Dakota are going to take care of that.”

He said he expects a final plan to be available sometime in late spring or in early summer. Additionally, Schuckman said a rough estimate had been made on costs but wouldn’t release the figure as it would be dependent on what the team’s findings are in the coming months.

He said the order is already in for the fish meant to repopulate the lake once the invasive species are removed.

“After the fish are killed off, we’re going to restock it right away with sport fish,” he said. “I’ve already got bass and blue gill requested for the fall of 2014.”

The last time a renovation of the lake had to be conducted was in 1980.

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Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan, http://www.yankton.net/