published: Friday, November 16, 2012
Istokpoga fall hydrilla treatment scheduled
Special to the News-Sun
LORIDA - Between Nov. 26-30 Lake Istokpoga will undergo a three-day aquatic herbicide treatment for the invasive exotic aquatic plant, hydrilla.
Helicopters will be flying over and spraying pre-mapped areas with Aquathol K liquid, which is an EPA and FDEP approved aquatic herbicide for use in lakes and other waters.
Approximately 2,300 acres will be treated this month and another 3,100 acres in February at a date to be announced.
There are no restrictions on recreational activities such as fishing, swimming or irrigation.
A variety of professionals and agencies including Highlands County Aquatic Weed Control, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Helena Chemical and United Phosphorus Inc. will be at the staging areas and on the lake to make sure the project progresses smoothly and safely.
According to Kelle Sullivan, regional biologist for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, "The Istokpoga management team has been working diligently to expand outreach and improve communications with stakeholders." Several meetings have taken place over the past year to formulate the 2012-13 Istokpoga hydrilla management plan.
Currently, there are approximately 8,000 to 10,000 acres of hydrilla in the lake. Many factors must be considered when planning these treatments such as snail kite nesting, water fowl habitat, fish spawning, and available funds and resources, just to name a few.
Hydrilla verticillata is a federally listed noxious weed. It was brought to the United States as an aquarium plant in the 1950s.
It was discovered growing in natural areas in the '60s and has spread rapidly since then. When hydrilla invades a water body, many important native plants may be displaced.
Native plants are often outcompeted for space and light and may be shaded out by hydrilla's thick surface mats. Hydrilla may also slow water flow and can clog irrigation and flood control canals.
It may hamper navigation and can prevent swimming and fishing in areas where it is particularly thick.
If the plant is abundant enough, it can even deplete oxygen levels in the water, which can cause fish to die.
If you have questions or concerns about this treatment, or the 2012-13 Istokpoga Hydrilla Management Plan, contact Kelle Sullivan, regional biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, at (863) 534-7074 or Chris Mayhew, weed control supervisor for Highlands County Parks and Natural Resources Department, at 402-6812.
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