Lakes and trees and other living things

Sandra ClarkFeature, Fountain City

What’s that green scummy stuff in Fountain City Lake? Are the algae back?


It’s parrot feather, said Eric Vreeland, chief information officer for the city. “The algae are under control. What you’re seeing is parrot feather, an invasive plant that’s taken hold in Fountain City Lake due to likely a small number of people dumping the contents of their aquariums into the lake.”

Vreeland continued: “Reducing the algae has created conditions where an invasive species can thrive, unfortunately – so it’s important for people to realize that they should never add goldfish or aquarium plant material into a natural ecosystem. (Of course, we also for years have been advising people to feed the ducks the food in the lakeside containers, rather than bread or cat food or dog food. The provided pellets are better for the health of the waterfowl, whereas the bread and pet foods increase the volume of duck feces, which in turn is conducive for algae growth.)”

Vreeland said the city added a treatment for the parrot feather last week, and two weeks ago added some grass carp to feed on the parrot feather. “We’re optimistic that cold weather, the carp and the added treatment – and probably some manual labor at some point to remove the invasives – will control the parrot feather over time. But obviously, we need people to stop dumping their aquariums into the lake for the corrective measures to work.”

Wetlands on the north side of Fountain City Lake are flourishing.

The lake water level is down to accommodate a city crew adding new plants to the wetlands area, he said.

Maintenance of Fountain City Lake is intractable. Kudos to Mayor Madeline Rogero and the city for stepping up to assist the Fountain City Lions Club in restoring and beautifying this community landmark. Folks, if you can’t help, please don’t impede their efforts.

Want a free tree?

Trees Knoxville’s 2018 Tree Give-Away is Saturday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m. to noon or until the trees are gone at the Knoxville Botanical Garden, 2649 Boyd’s Bridge Pike. The giveaway is open to residents and businesses of Knoxville and Knox County, who may obtain up to two free trees (different species) to plant on their private property.

A variety of native trees species are available: black gum, redbud, red maple, bald cypress, swamp white oak and tulip poplar. The trees will be comparable in size to those sold at retail stores. Those who get trees will also receive instruction on how to plant and care for them.

Trees have great value to cities and property owners. Besides their many water- and air-quality benefits, trees also increase the value of homes. Comparable homes with trees sell for nearly 20 percent higher than a home without trees, according to Tom Welborn, chair of Trees Knoxville.

“Fall is the best time to plant trees in our region,” he said. “These trees planted in the fall will have more time to develop their root systems, and with proper planting and care, they will have a higher survival rate than those planted in the spring.” Info: treesknoxville@gmail.com.

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