Long an exceptional freshwater fishery and a haven for ducks, wading birds and other wildlife, Lake Livingston is nearly 50 years old and has lost much of its aquatic habitat, causing the water quality to decline. Piney Wood Lakes Chapter Texas Master Naturalist was a founding member of Friends of Lake Livingston (FoLL), to create habitat for fish and wildlife populations, while reducing erosion and building a multi-generational volunteer pool that includes students to retirees.
In 2013, the Trinity River Authority (TRA) and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TWPD) approved a plan to foster natural habitat around the 85,000-acre reservoir. The plan, developed by the Texas Black Bass Unlimited (TBBA) and Piney Wood Lakes, created the Lake Livingston Friends of Reservoirs (LLFoR) program and defined a clear mission:
“Reestablish Lake Livingston as a prime destination for anglers and water enthusiasts by restoring aquatic habitat.”
In 2018, the organization changed its name to Friends of Lake Livingston and expanded its mission beyond reservoir restoration to include shoreline and riparian habitats.
Lake Livingston, the second largest lake in Texas, was created in 1971 to provide most of Houston’s water. It is normal for lakes to lose their natural plants and grasses as they age. Over the past 50 years, the once abundant vegetation along the bottom and shores of the lake has declined to a point of non-existence. The Trinity River brings in a lot of silt, and with less filtering vegetation, siltation is impacting the water as well as the fishermen and all types of water enthusiasts.
Over 20,000 American water-willows have been planted by FoLL at 19 sites across Lake Livingston. While early plantings struggled, significant success has been achieved in coves and areas protected by the wind and wave action. At two sites, the initial 5,000 plants exploded up the banks, filling creeks to create excellent aquatic breeding habitat. Additional aquatic plants approved by TPWD are being tested on the lake for added diversity.
FoLL collaborates with Lee College Horticulture and it’s program with Texas Department of Corrections’ Ellis Unit to propagate and grow plants and research efficiency techniques that enhance health and growth. TDC Ellis/Lee Horticultural has begun experimenting with six new aquatic plant species. Once propagation techniques are perfected, plants will be distributed to partner high schools.
Students from eight independent school districts – Big Sandy, Coldspring-Oakhurst, Corrigan-Camden, Goodrich, Leggett, Livingston, Onalaska and Shepherd High Schools – participate in growing plants on their campuses and in planting and monitoring activities on the lake.
In addition to its managing partners, FoLL depends on the volunteer and/or financial support of private citizens and companies, the U.S Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership, Texas Association of Bass Clubs, Polk and San Jacinto County AgriLife 4-H Clubs; SJC Master Gardeners, Heartwood Texas Master Naturalist, the Texas Master Naturalist Program and the Polk County Hookers fishing club.
Help is always needed to keep this aggressive, all volunteer program growing. To get involved, donate, or become a sponsor, visit www.friendsoflakelivingston.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.