Weed infestation choking off popular recreational area in Fresno County

FRESNO COUNTY (KFSN) -- A view from the picnic areas shows Lost Lake is unrecognizable in some spots. An aggressive green plant called Parrot Feather is now clogging the river along a 240-foot section.

Kayakers noticed the rapid growth a month ago.

"And I thought, boy, the next week it's coming in so fast we ought to bring machetes. So we did that next week and it was even too thick to get through," said Steve Fretz, Fresno.

The weed established itself at Lost Lake a few decades ago, but Richard Sloan, of River Tree Volunteers, said it can double in mass every two weeks if it is warm.

"It's actually pretty scary because the Parrot Feather can kill native species of bugs and fish and things in the river by shading the river."

Some of the younger plants float on the water, but an underwater view shows you just how thick the weed can get if it can establish roots. Parrot Feather cuts off the sunlight needed to sustain life and it's troubling to hear how the weed came to Lost Lake.

"It got here I think just someone from an aquarium throwing it in the river and one thing led to another," said Doug Broten, Fresno.

On Saturday dozens of volunteers will meet at Lost Lake to use claw hooks to rip out portions of the Parrot Feather. Experienced boaters will aid the effort to clear a path.

"It does spread by fragmentation," said Sloan.
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.