Courtesy photo Illinois pondweed is a natural part of the Lake June ecosystem, but has grown out of control this past summer and caused an outcry from lake residents and users, who say it is a hazard to boats and swimmers.
published: Friday, October 18, 2013
Carp to be used to help pondweed problem
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
LAKE PLACID -- Scientists still seek longer-term solutions to the recent blossoming of Illinois pondweed in Lake June, but already have treated some overrun public areas.
Lakeside property owners complain of fast-growing beds of the weed, thick enough to harm vessels of all kinds and threaten the safety of swimmers. The people have banded together and applied political pressure for a solution, including a trip to Tallahassee where group representatives met with Gov. Rick Scott.
Scientists are unsure why the current explosion of growth has occurred along the shoreline, but agree the weed has become enough of a nuisance that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee is intervening.
The FWC, however, is responsible for public beaches and navigation ways. It does not have the authority to treat private property. This means residents and property owners will have to take part in whatever plan goes forward.
Because no one individual, organization and agency can solve the problem alone, said Kelle Sullivan, a regional biologist for the FWC, another public meeting to discuss a proposed integrated approach will be announced soon. In the meantime the FWC is working on the plan.
Part of the difficulty in finding a solution is because pondweed grows naturally in Florida lakes, benefiting a lake's aquatic life by providing hiding places for fish and contributing to a healthy water balance. The key, therefore, is removing enough pond weed to allow safe recreation but not so much that the natural habitat is harmed.
Herbicides and hand removal are two ways to control pond weed near beaches, around boat houses and docks.
"When controlled correctly with herbicide, pondweed is highly unlikely to return in two to three weeks. It is likely that if you control around your dock and shoreline with Aquatol you will get at least several months, if not a year or more, of control," Sullivan said.
But herbicides alone are not enough.
Therefore, while no decision has been made, Sullivan said the FWC is considering introducing sterile pondweed-eating carp into the lake. The drawback is that the carp may not stay in Lake June and will migrate through natural and man-made connections to other lakes downstream.
"Another component of the integrated approach," Sullivan said recently, "is fostering active communication and participation of all stakeholders in the future management of nuisance plants on lakes in this region.
"The cooperation of multiple groups, agencies and individuals -- both public and private -- has proven successful for the management of other lakes, such as Istokpoga."
Sullivan urges interested individuals contact her for help in obtaining free permits for the use of herbicide, or information about weeding by hand. Call (863) 534-7074 for more information.
Permits may be obtained online at: https://public.myfwc.com/CrossDOI/PermitSystem/loginForm.aspx?ReturnURL=%2fCrossDOI%2fPermitSystem%2fDefault.aspx/
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