Elizabeth Camarata, member of the Alaska Forest Service, totes a large rifle to protect her and the group from bear attacks while working in the Copper River delta on a Elodea treatment.
Camarata takes a break from walking through the bogs in the Copper River Delta. She is knee deep in muddy water and carrying a bucket of herbicide.
Elodea treatment is controversial in Alaska because long-term effects of both the invasive plant and eradication treatments are still unknown.
Robert Canva holds a piece of an elodea plant in his hand. He shows it to everyone in the group saying, "This little plant is causing lots of trouble." Elodea is an invasive species of aquatic plant that the state of Alaska is interested in eradicating.
Fluridone pellets sit at the bottom of a large bucket. Fluridone is a slow-acting systemic herbicide which is applied either by spreading slow acting pellets or more quickly acting spray. It will kill elodea in these ponds in one year.
Camarata sprays the liquid fluridone on a small stream where elodea was found. This stream will be part of a controlled experiment for the next three years and will be monitored for environmental impact.
In the bogs, the air is thick with gnats and other insects.
Tension builds during the treatment. a member of SePRO Corporation, the company providing the herbicide, urges the Forest Service to treat ponds aggressively and skip the three year waiting period.
The long-term effects of treating elodea are still unknown. One thing the Forest Service knows for sure is there will be non-target deaths in the ecosystem. Species like the Nuphar Lutea, or water lily, will be killed by the herbicide.