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Managing Hydrilla in Lake Apopka

For immediate release: June 26, 2012

Media contact: Joy Hill, 352-258-3426

FWC plan calls for managing hydrilla at lowest levels in Lake Apopka

In January, staff of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) met with the public at a meeting in Winter Garden to learn how people would like hydrilla and other invasive aquatic plants managed on Lake Apopka. The FWC incorporated the comments from that meeting into the 2012-13 management strategy, which calls for controlling hydrilla at the lowest possible level in Lake Apopka.

The amount of hydrilla in the lake is currently very small, and managing it according to the plan will prevent it from becoming a large scale, expensive problem. Hydrilla easily spreads among water bodies and quickly becomes invasive if not properly managed.

The aquatic plant management plan is in place for the period of July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013 and calls for treating up to 200 acres of hydrilla if it becomes necessary during this time period. The FWC has budgeted $132,000 for hydrilla control in Lake Apopka, if necessary, but hopes that much less will be needed. The FWCs funding for aquatic plant control is provided through the state’s Invasive Plant Control Trust Fund.

Aquatic plant managers warn that accurately predicting the cost of managing invasive aquatic plants or even how many acres will need to be treated in any given fiscal year is difficult. For that reason when managers develop treatment plans they estimate budget and acreage at the high end of the spectrum. Frequent monitoring throughout the year will determine the extent and timing of any treatments.

“Where and how quickly these types of plants grow depends upon a number of factors, many of which are not predictable, said Nathalie Visscher, FWC invasive plant management biologist. “These include lake conditions such as a change in nutrient levels, which affect plant growth rates; drought; excessive rain; temperature; as well as management tools and other activities that may be occurring within the lake’s watershed. People are often looking for exact dollar and acreage amounts, but we can offer only educated estimates. We never know what to expect; predicting Mother Nature is a difficult task.”

Before developing the 2012-13 aquatic plant management plan for Lake Apopka, the FWC considered input from a wide variety of user groups to create a balanced approach.

“At the meeting last January, we heard from business and property owners, anglers, hunters, bird watchers, boaters and others who have a vested interest in the lake,” Visscher said. “That and future meetings are part of an ongoing process to maintain a regular dialogue with stakeholders about aquatic plant management on Lake Apopka.”

For more details about hydrilla management on Lake Apopka, contact Nathalie Visscher at 321-228-3364.





Lake Toho under NEW Hydrilla Management and Needs your Help!

News Release

October 25, 2010
Media contact: Joy Hill, 352-258-3426;
Patricia Behnke, 850-251-2130

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will hold a public meeting to discuss the changes for hydrilla management on Lake Toho for the winter of 2010-2011. The meeting will be Friday, Nov. 5, from 6-8 p.m., at the Osceola County Commission Chambers in the Administrative Building at 1 Courthouse Square, Kissimmee.

Staff from both the FWC and the USFWS will present information on the upcoming hydrilla treatment plan to manage the nonnative plant. A preview of the evening’s public meeting will be offered in the same location from 3-4 p.m. for government officials interested in the topic.

“Lake Toho contains large amounts of hydrilla, which can cause navigation problems and limit access to boaters,” said Bill Caton, the FWC’s Invasive Plant Section leader. “This plant also provides an abundant food source and habitat used by a nonnative species of apple snail that lives in the lake.”

The snail is eaten by the (Everglades) snail kite, one of the most endangered birds in Florida, making Lake Toho one of the few areas in the state where kites can still find plenty of food. As a result, the FWC and the USFWS will change how, when and where hydrilla is controlled on the lake so that enough snails will be available when kites start nesting in the early spring.

This coming winter, the agencies will take an extra-cautious approach when controlling hydrilla to help the kites recover from a severe winter last year. The FWC and the USFWS are attempting to balance the needs of this endangered species with the needs of the people who use this lake. The meeting will provide information on how this plan is expected to affect hydrilla growth through the summer of 2011.

For more information on the meeting, please contact Zach Welch at 352-266-6139.

What Is A Fishery Issue?

The post title omits the term, “Freshwater” because at this point I am sure you understand that fishery issues are discussed in the context of non-saltwater bodies.

For the sake of future ease of reference, allow me orthographical license to abbreviate an idea and a title with one acronym. Instead of refering to “bodies of freshwater” continually and combining the additional subject of “issues” to it, let’s reverse the first subject to “Freshwater Bodies” and add the second subject “Issues” to result in something easy to remember, “FBI“.

FBI’s are first created when people become involved with freshwater bodies in all the varities of ways they have interests in. Eventually when enough people are using them without the proper safeguards in place and proper implementation, the nature and state starts to change for the worse and responsible action is required to maintain an optimum level of health.

Herein lies the challenge which was first addressed by Florida’s people about a century ago. Without presenting a complete history of freshwater management in Florida, let’s start with the federal, state, and county agencies as they are today, in place and operating under the current State Statues the lawmakers put in place.

The people interested in FBs vary greatly in those interests, however many of the issues are shared in common within that diversity. It is this common ground that many FB users hope to build relationship upon in order to stand and be heard as one unified voice in the ears of the legislature.

A coalition is essentially a partnership centered on one or more reasons, efforts, and causes, that ulitimately have the same shared goal which all parties have a stake in.

Therefore their “issues” are defined as problems or deficiencies with the current plan, policy, and laws, that does not have an adequate or correct result as they veiw it. The end result is that people who expect to benefit from the lake management agencies plans and work, in the end do not, but instead suffer decline in the level of ability to enjoy their FB, thus an FBI is created and the need for responsible action arises on the part of the people involved.

The only way we can know what our issues are is for each one of us to sit down together in order to compare our information and understanding of situations we find unacceptable within the federal, state, and county management agencies’ end results and proposed future plans.

We hope you’ll partner with us so that we will work to define our issues correctly and form a plan by which those FBIs will ultimately become tomorrow’s optimum FB management plan, legislation, law and policy.