Once on Grant Line Canal we turned east and headed toward Salmon Slough and Old River. There is currently a barrier in place east of the Tracy Blvd. bridge that must be portaged but there is a state employee there to help. After crossing the rock barrier we encountered another one that has plagued the Delta, hyacinth.
To our amazement, as we got closer we discovered several sheep up to their chins in the water chowing down on the water hyacinth that lined the shore. We sat there for several minutes watching them as they ate the leaves of the plant when we noticed on the opposite side of the slough about a half dozen goats doing the same thing.
We soon left our shady spot and continued heading east on Old River for another mile before deciding to head back the way we came. We wanted to circumnavigate an island to the south of us but not knowing whether the slough would be navigable we didn't want to risk getting stuck. We made a wise decision because not long after turning around a Department of Boating and Waterways boat met us on the river and told us that the section of river we were thinking of paddling was choked by the hyacinth and that they were on their way to check to see if their spraying the day before had any effect on the relentless plant.
Meeting up with the DBW boat got me to thinking about the sheep and goats eating the hyacinth. If they were eating plants that had been sprayed, could the weed killer harm them? What about the herbicide in the water being used to irrigate our food supply and our drinking water? I was glad to see the DBW trying to do something to rid the horrific plant, but could there be a better way? What about aquatic weed harvesters? I'm sure it would be a huge investment but it could provide jobs and might keep us from poisoning ourselves.
Paddling back to the put in we encountered many more egrets, otters, heron and jumping salmon. The tide had turned and pushed even more hyacinth into Grant Line Canal, making our return difficult and a little nerve racking not knowing if we would be able to pass. We made it to the barrier where we portaged with help from the gentleman manning the station and continued back to the marina. This was a beautiful spot to kayak and it felt like we were a million miles from civilization. I look forward to returning soon!
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