MAMMOTH SPRING -- In an effort to freeze out the dense vegetation in the lake at Mammoth Spring State Park, the lake has been drained.
This makes the sixth year officials at Mammoth Spring State Park have made the decision to drain the lake at the park.
The lake was not drained last year and park superintendent Dave Jackson said the weeds in the lake are as thick as he has ever seen them.
The lake drains slowly, Jackson said, and took three days for the lake to drain to the level needed. Park officials began draining the lake Jan. 3.
The lake is drained to try to kill the dense aquatic vegetation (lake weeds) that grows in most of the lake. It is drained in the coldest part of the year so hopefully the plants will freeze and die.
Jackson said it is not unusual to find rare and even strange items at the bottom of the lake.
Two years's ago arthropod fossils were found in the lake after it was drained. Jackson said one of the fossils was believed to be a partial trilobite and the other fossil was a dragonfly.
Both the trilobite and the dragonfly fossil have segmented bodies and paired joined limbs. He said there are over a million species and two of the most important classes are trilobites and insects. Jackson said the trilobites were probably bottom feeding scavengers in the lake.
Jackson said although nothing very unusual has come up from this year's lake draining, in the past it has been like a time capsule.
"We have found lots of old glass medicine and alcohol bottles that had been thrown off the bridge over 100 years ago. Once we found an old Western Union sign that came from the train station at least 100 years ago. It was made of porcelain," he said.
The park takes on a different look when the lake is drained. Jackson is hoping sometime in the near future the weather will turn colder and freeze the lake weeds.
"The reason there is such a high concentration of weeds in the lake is due to the high nitrogen content in the lake," he said.
He said the weeds do not create a problem. "They are just unsightly and many visitors to the park do not find them attractive. "The weeds do not harm anything in the lake," he said.
Jackson said besides trying to freeze the weeds in the winter, there aren't many other options to control them. He said dredging the lake might be a possibility sometime down the road.