Aquatic spraying underway on Lake O

CLEWISTON — The Lake Okeechobee Aquatic Plant Management Interagency Task Force will meet May 30 at 10 a.m. in the USACE South Florida Operations Office, 525 Ridgelawn Road in Clewiston.


The task force members represent State of Florida agencies (including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the South Florida Water Management District), state universities, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies. The task force serves in an advisory capacity, providing multi-disciplinary technical and scientific data from which the corps’ aquatic plant management strategy, methodology and research planning and operational efforts evolve. The focus of the aquatic plant effort will be to benefit the ecological health of Lake Okeechobee.


Spraying approved through June 7
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a work plan for aquatic plant management by chemical herbicides May 20 through June 7.


The work plan, filed online by Regional Biologist Brendon Hession, outlines herbicide use to target four invasive plant species:
• Ampelopsis arborea (peppervine): The treatment site is located approximately one mile from the Herbert Hoover Dike. Peppervine is growing within the Aquatic Habitat Restoration and Enhancement (AHRE) program’s planted bald cypress trees and slowly killing them. Peppervine can climb up and kill young bald cypress trees by bending then toward the ground and breaking them. Brazilian pepper can quickly take over and crowd out or shade out young planted trees. Triclopyr is a selective herbicide that only kills woody species. Care will be taken to spray only exotic species and not the native planted species. No grassy or other native species will be impacted. Access to the treatment site will be via the Herbert Hoover Dike. A truck will be used to access the staging area and a truck or ATV will be used to access the Cypress Fringe area. No access by airboat is possible to this area at current water levels. Treatment will be done using backpack sprayers, cutting the stump of the exotic plant and spraying the stump directly. According to the plan, 30 acres will be treated.

• Panicum repens (torpedo grass): Part of this work is to treat exotic torpedo grass on the northwest marsh of Lake Okeechobee. Torpedo grass is growing within AHRE’s planted bald cypress trees, suppresses tree growth, and creates thick grass mats that carry fire and can kill these young trees. A truck will be used to access the staging area and the Depression Site area. No access by airboat is possible to this area at current water levels. The selected herbicide will not damage any of the native trees, shrubs or other plants in this area (such as spikerush, pickerel weed, etc). Work also entails a torpedo grass treatment project located in the Northwest Marsh of Lake Okeechobee. Torpedo grass is choking out the northwest marsh and severely limiting wildlife usage. It doesn’t allow native grass to proliferate because it’s such a dense monoculture. The small amount of beneficial vegetation that is present is not readily accessible to wildlife and for most species is not accessible at all. They will be using boom trucks or tractor spray rigs. The plan indicated 490 acres will be treated.


• Schinus terebinthifolius (Brazilian pepper): The treatment site is located approximately one mile from the Herbert Hoover Dike. Peppers are growing within AHRE’s planted bald cypress trees and slowly killing them. Brazilian pepper can quickly take over and crowd out or shade out young planted trees. Triclopyr is a selective herbicide that only kills woody species. Care will be taken to spray only exotic species and not the native planted species. No grassy or other native species present will be impacted. Access to the treatment site will be via the Herbert Hoover Dike. A truck will be used to access the staging area and a truck or ATV will be used to access the Cypress Fringe area. No access by airboat is possible to this area at current water levels. Treatment will be done using backpack sprayers, cutting the stump of the exotic plant and spraying the stump directly. Seven acres will be treated.


Work plans were also approved for aquatic plant management in Lake Okeechobee May 20-24:
• Floating Plants (Eichhornia and Pistia): Floating plants negatively impact native habitat and navigation, they require management. Lake Okeechobee: Treat floating plants in Monkey Box, Kings Bar, Tin House Cove and Eagle Bay. Herbicide usage for Lake O: Diquat for Hyacinth in open water, spatterdock and pennywort; 2,4-D for Hyacinth in Cattail and other grasses; Penoxsulam for Hyacinth in Giant bulrush; Diquat for Lettuce in open water, spatterdock, grasses and pennywort; Flumioxazin for Lettuce in Cattail or Giant bulrush; Diquat for lettuce and Hyacinth together in open water, grasses, spatterdock and pennywort; Flumioxazin/Penoxsulam mix for lettuce and hyacinth together in Giant bulrush; and Flumioxazin/2,4-D mix for Lettuce & Hyacinth together in cattail. The plan indicates 75 acres will be treated.

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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