After over three inches of rain reported at Jacksonville we made the following observations:
At 2:30 PM, EDT, May 18, tide on low side, floating Alligatorweed over two feet above water was completely blocking all openings under the old railway bridge, S-879. The combination of low tide and the broad expanse of the river at this point and a strong northerly wind did not permit but very little rise in the water level at this location. The current was slow but steady. All of this Alligatorweed is new growth above water level. We had the entire bridge area cleared of all Alligator weed at and below the water level last winter at this bridge.
Whereas the gauge on the New River at Gum Branch showed a 5 foot rise. This dropped off quickly as the New River is channelized. At 2:58 AM on the 19th the New River had dropped from 7.5 to 6.1 feet. Southwest Creek will not drop fast like this.
On 05-19 At 9:30 AM we found a drastic change at S-879. The tide was on the high side. The river had risen about 1 and 1/2 feet. The stub in front of our launching area was within three inches of being under water. We walked across the bridge to the west side past the island. The current was rushing through the very first opening only. It was clear of alligator weed. It had been flushed out and was all gone downstream. Apparently the full volume of new water from the rain reached this bridge over night.
On the 18th we drove up to the old bridge, the first bridge below Rte 17 on Southwest Creek and found the water level to be less than one foot below the bridge itself. This was on the 18th at 3:30 PM. The current was very swift and strong. There was no alligatorweed in sight above or below the bridge. Usually we can sit upright in our canoe and pass freely under this bridge.
On the 19th, on the way home at 4:00 PM, to our amazement, we found the water up in the parking area. It was obvious that the water had risen up over the bridge surface itself as it was littered with duck weed. It had already dropped down about 2 inches still completely filling the entire openings under the bridge.
There was NO ALLIGATORWEED IN SIGHT ABOVE OR BELOW THE BRIDGE!
This is definite proof that all of the huge mass of weeds that has existed for years at the Rte 17 bridge has all gone downstream.
On an earlier trip, back in the winter, after a similar trip when the alligatorweed was floating but with no new growth above the water we found all sections of this bridge blocked by large mats we had dislodged earlier at the Rte 17 bridge. They were very easy to break up and get through the bridge supports at that time due to the absence of any growth above water. Now, May 19, the above water growth is over two feet and falling back down over itself in an entangled thick mass!
On the 18th we drove up to Rte 17 bridge where the largest single mat or mass on the whole river existed last spring. It was then we applied two treatments of flea beetles. One was by Bianca who came upstream with her group and the other was by us as we came downstream from Haws Run.
Last winter we spent two days at this bridge dislodging alligatorweed to float downstream in the current. The whole south side of the river at and above the bridge was a an eddy filled completely will alligatorweed. The first day we were able to get about 1/2 of it floating away downstream. On the next visit we loosened all of it from around the bank. It was very difficult to get it out into the current as the eddy kept moving it back. We had to leave it.
We went to other sections of the river where our efforts were more successful. Several weeks later we were assisted by a similar rainfall like we just had. We were delighted to find when observing from the top of the bridge that all of it was swept downstream by the current.
May 18 at 4:00 PM we found no Alligatorweed as we observed the area looking down from the roadway. Today, May 19th, as previously reported, we go back to the railway bridge, S-879 and will dislodge all mats we find in the main channels south of the bridge. Elmer
This is now May19th. We were delighted to be able to launch our boats in water completely covering the crushed rocks which were bare all winter. Yesterday alligatorweed was growing up through these crushed rocks. It will be there when the water recedes to normal level. Spraying will be necessary to kill this alligator weed.
We were also delighted to find how easy it was to dislodge the new mats of alligatorweed that
had hung up on snags on both side of the river. Today we were able to get them moving downstream with us. They even went ahead of us with the strong fast current which must be
about 2 miles per hour.
We almost reached the lst concrete barrier by lunch time. Scott Brown, our scout, reported a few mats had made it almost to Maple Landing.
After lunch at the concrete barrier we worked our way back upstream and home.
We hope this report will convince those who have been opposing this new approach to controlling alligatorweed will finallly get out on the river and do what we have been doing since last November 26th.
Right now is the time to do it while this high water exists. Thanks, Elmer