Authorities in Alaska are trying to halt the spread of an invasive water plant called elodea.

The plant’s spread could be due in part to float planes — the plant can get caught on them and be transported from one body of water to another. It only takes a tiny fragment of the plant to start new populations.

Elodea chokes lakes and slow-running rivers, killing fish and other species. It has been found in several lakes in the Anchorage area and at least one water body near Fairbanks.


The invasive aquatic plant Brazilian elodea, shown Aug. 30, 2004. The plant is rapidly growing, difficult to control and squeezes out native plants in lakes and slow-running rivers. (AP)

Ed Fogels, Alaska's deputy commissioner for natural resources, has seen the damage first-hand near Fairbanks.

"You can look down in the clear water and you are literally canoeing on top of an inch of water on top of elodea mats. And when you look down into the clear water, occasionally you would see gaps between the elodea mats that were pretty deep and you could just see fish stacked up between those mats — they really didn’t want to go into the elodea itself. It was too thick," said Fogels.

Fogels said the plant has also proven that it can survive freezing.