What they don’t spot, technology catches with a sonar unit that finds submerged plants and records their location. LAKE WYLIE, NC (WBTV) - Duke Energy announced Wednesday that it was going to be closing more boat ramps because of low water levels and continued drought conditions. Additional ramps may be in future expansion plans. Hartis has managed aquatic plant programs for utilities for five years, and Molloy joined Duke Energy’s program after graduating from North Carolina State University in 2019. “We get a better overall view of just how big the issue might be,” Hartis said. — For boaters currently frustrated with all the traffic on Anclote River Park's four existing boat ramps, relief could be on the way. County finalizing land swap deal with Duke Energy Join us in sharing support for all the heroes on the frontlines. But at least it should allow for more parking for boat trailers and improved traffic flow. From an airboat, Brett Hartis and Eryn Molloy show us what it’s like to be a Duke Energy aquatic plant scientist slowing the spread of invasive plants. The company said it was closing all ramps at Buster Boyd and South Point access areas to ensure the safety of boaters and protect property. DUKE ENERGY LAKE SERVICES FEE SCHEDULE . The new improvement plan lists a total of 89 projects along the 225 miles of Duke-controlled Catawba River, including; new picnic facilities, […] “When an invasive comes in,” Hartis said, “this is an open playing field for it to take off and run amuck.”. Sometimes, he said, people think they’re out to get rid of all the aquatic plants, but that’s not the case. It will add 14 acres to the park. “Things you might not think about,” Hartis said. Hartis and Molloy took over Duke Energy’s Instagram (@duke_energy) to show us what a day is like for a scientist on Mountain Island Lake north of Charlotte. In addition to inspecting the Duke Energy reservoirs on the Catawba-Wateree each year per federal requirements, the scientists monitor all 40 of the company’s reservoirs in the Carolinas. “Duke Energy is monitoring lake levels at boat ramps and will close boat ramps when needed to ensure public safety,” the earlier statement read. After prepping the boat, they head to the water and start searching. "Particularly around 4:30 or 5:00 when people have been out imbibing a bit too much.". According to county officials, expansion may not actually mean additional boat ramps, at first. From June to October, they survey nearly 1,800 miles of shoreline from Lake James in western North Carolina to Lake Wateree in South Carolina for invasive plant species – like hydrilla – that spread quickly and stifle plants. The county will start the planning process in the next few months once the deal is finalized. (Tim Wronka/Spectrum Bay News 9). The park currently has four boat ramps with six lanes. © Duke Energy Corporation. Frequent boater Roy Brooks told us coming back from the water can be hectic as well when using one of the park's boat ramps. Boaters using the existing boat ramps at Anclote River Park. 1 Julian Price Pl.Charlotte, NC 28208(704) 374-3500. Our new Spectrum News app is the most convenient way to get the stories that matter to you. Many of the boat ramps on Lake Wylie and Lake Norman are now closed as the region's drought persists. Millions of dollars are spent annually across the United States to slow its spread. For more information about lake levels and the access area map, CLICK HERE. Copyright 2015 WBTV. Duke Energy closes more boat ramps on Lake Wylie. California Consumer Do Not Sell My Personal Information. "I think itâs a great use of the funds. "Crazy. They respond to hundreds of requests each year. The county has plans to expand the park, which could help with all of the boat traffic on the ramps and the parking lot, especially on weekends and holidays. They inspect areas that many never see, identify new growth early and work with state and local agencies to develop a management plan and educate property owners. Neither scientist thought they’d work for a utility when they decided to study fisheries, but they both said they recognize the value they provide in working with state and local partners to develop management plans that protect natural resources and benefit everyone. Hartis said it’s like kudzu, a well-known, land-based invasive species that spread across the Southeast. A Gray Media Group, Inc. Station - © 2002-2020 Gray Television, Inc. A Wilmington man is among two boaters missing after a recreational vessel was found overturned off the North Carolina coast Tuesday morning, according to Coast Guard officials. The company said it was closing all ramps at Buster Boyd and South Point access areas to … The key to combatting invasive species, Hartis said, is early detection. In these trying times, community is everything. It allows them to access shallow, backwater parts of the river. By using this technology, they can record hundreds of thousands of data points each trip and get a better idea of how widespread underwater plants are across the lake. Duke Energy recently rebuilt the ramps there and added changing facilities. All Rights Reserved. “We’re the ones people call when they see something weird,” he said. "The region continues to experience drought conditions and with no expected improvement.". That’s why they need the airboat. In addition to inspecting the Duke Energy reservoirs on the Catawba-Wateree each year per federal requirements, the scientists monitor all 40 of the company’s reservoirs in the Carolinas. Absolutely crazy," Brooks said. In between the beneficial, native plants, they’re looking for signs of invasive species. “If we find these things at 1, 2, 5 or 10 acres, we can keep it from being hundreds or thousands of acres.”. “And,” she said, “I love that I get to call these lakes my office.”. If a landowner’s boat ramp is suddenly covered in weeds or an algal bloom pops up at a park, Hartis and Molloy check it out. Thankfully for them, extra room is on the way. The boat’s sonar unit works like most fish finders that anglers use – it’s continuously sending a sound wave toward the lake floor, and when it hits a fish, rock or patch of vegetation, it bounces back to the unit and records the depth. "Thereâs a line a lot," said boater Monica Zerance. Molloy said she loves being able to support that effort, too. "Despite last weekend's rainfall, Lake Wylie is still well below normal" said John Crutchfield, public safety and recreation strategy planning director. Hartis drives and Molloy points out little purple flowers and leaf patterns to identify native species like water willow that provide shelter for young fish and food for pollinators. Hydrilla grows quickly and has few predators. All four boat ramps at the Allison Creek Access Area were closed earlier this summer. LAKE WYLIE, NC (WBTV) - Duke Energy announced Wednesday that it was going to be closing more boat ramps because of low water levels and continued drought conditions. Duke Energy’s massive new $4 million water recreation improvement plan was recently approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Please be aware that local governing bodies may have certain restrictions on these areas. After surveying a reservoir, the scientists return to the office and look at the data they collected. I think it will be utilized by a lot of individuals," Brooks said. All rights reserved. Both have advanced degrees from the university – Hartis a Ph.D. and Molloy a master’s degree – in fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology specializing in aquatic invasive species. If it spreads enough, the growth can affect water flow to power plants, restrict access to boat ramps and swim beaches, threaten our drinking water and harm wildlife habitat. With a souped-up fish finder and an airboat, Brett Hartis and Eryn Molloy spend the summer on the Catawba and Wateree rivers looking for plants that could cause problems. “Yeah, it might block a boat ramp, but if it takes hold in a community that thrives on the lake economy, you can imagine what that would mean indirectly for the entire community if these species aren’t managed.”. Multiple water rescues are underway in Alexander County as heavy rainfall moves in. “It’s often referred to as the perfect aquatic weed,” Molloy said. According to Duke Energy, Lake Wylie is 6.3 feet below full pond. PROGRAM ACTIVITY APPL. By WBTV Web Staff | September 16, 2015 at 9:24 PM EDT - Updated July 25 at 7:07 AM . In addition, Pasco will now own the 29 acres of land they are currently leasing from Duke Energy. Because these reservoirs are man-made and warmed by the Southeast’s plentiful sunlight, they are the perfect places for invasive species to take hold. Just this week, Pasco commissioners approved a land swap with Duke Energy. Bank & Pier Fishing Access Sites - York County . FILING FEE (a) USER FEE (c) SECURITY DEPOSIT Private Facilities Individual Private Facilities $300.00 No Charge No Charge Common-Use Facilities $300.00 per applicant No Charge No Charge Maintenance $300.00 No Charge No Charge Excavation $1,000.00 or $2,000 (b) No Charge … Since hydrilla appeared in Duke Energy reservoirs in the 1990s, the company has worked with management agencies to eradicate the plant by introducing predators like sterile grass carp, applying herbicides and removing the vines by hand. Sign up for our free email newsletter with the latest coronavirus headlines, along with other news and weather around the Bay. They’re scientists for Duke Energy’s aquatic plant management program, and the sooner they find plants that could crowd waterways, the better it is for those who depend on the water. "You have to wait a few minutes to launch your boat.". That's 0.4 feet lower than it was a week ago. The least expensive and easiest way to stop hydrilla, though, is to prevent it from taking hold – that’s why they spend much of their time educating lake-front property owners about invasive species. Either way, consider stopping by the park store to buy your own waterproof map of the lake. September 16, 2015 at 9:24 PM EDT - Updated July 25 at 7:07 AM, Clemson to open special dorm community for LGBTQ students, Massive flooding leads to evacuations, rescues and road closures across WBTV viewing area, Fire damages First Ministry Center at First Baptist Church in Salisbury. Duke Energy announced new closings Tuesday and said remaining ramps … These scientists have a lake for an office, Sign up for updates from Duke Energy | illumination. "Boaters and other recreational users should be on look out for potential navigational hazards when on the lake," Crutchfield said. Managing invasive species, Hartis said, touches everything from the environment to economics. The company says they will continue to closely monitor lake levels and works as part of the Catawba- Wateree Drought Management Council to address the drought conditions. The Nivens Creek Access Area, near Fort Mill, is still open. In exchange for the land, Pasco County is giving 75 acres next to Duke Energyâs Anclote Substation and $1.8 million. Download it here. If you do have your own boats, bypass the main boat ramp and parking lot area to avoid pontoon and power boats and head over to Devil’s Fork remote ramp. Their goal is to restore a balanced ecosystem that supports a variety of plant and animal species. Changes could be seen next year. One of the most prolific invasive aquatic plants is hydrilla. = Handicap accessible where indicated.