Illinois pondweed articles bring expert response
Good job on “Carp to join pondweed war,” expressing multiple complex issues and interests of everyone involved. I offer a few corrections.
No large Hydrilla work or Illinois pondweed planting was conducted in Lake June by FWC in 2008. This date is likely from emails referred to in your article where residents discussed first seeing pondweed in more of the lake.
This timeline should help:
• 1988: Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Invasive Plant Management, now FWC, surveys Illinois pondweed in Lake June.
• Late 1980s to early 1990s: FWC large hydrilla treatments also control native submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) including Illinois pondweed, southern naiad, and eel grass. Not 2008 as stated in your article.
• Mid 1990s: native SAV including Illinois pondweed present off and on but not re-establishing likely due to grazing pressure (fewer plants with same number of animals and invertebrates eating).
• 1999: about 10 years post hydrilla treatments, FWC tries planting 1/10 acre of Illinois pondweed and eelgrass in fenced areas. The plantings failed. There was no follow-up in 2008.
• Early 2000s: native SAV again naturally re-establishing.
• 2008: 20 years post 1988 survey; 15 years post treatments; nine years since FWC failed plantings; residents are noticing pondweed. Native SAV needed 20-plus years to recover in Lake June after the hydrilla treatments. Lake managers were not alarmed by pondweed because hydrilla returning was a more looming and possible scenario.
• 2007-08: pondweed expands, hydrilla returns and is treated the next several years.
• 2013 one acre of hydrilla treated. Pondweed expansion likely helps slow hydrilla expansion.
Rapid expansion of any aquatic plant and heavy green water color indicates bigger problems. High nutrient levels are required for this to happen and sustain. FWC will continue to manage plants to ensure Lake June is open to public recreation, but plant management is just that. It does not remove the nutrients making plants and algae grow. Removing plants may increase algae and green water when fewer plants are present to take up nutrients.
Removing plants is a Band-Aid for one symptom of the bigger problem. Continued nutrient increases means progression from a clear water, low-productivity lake friendly to water sports, to a lake more like Lake Istokpoga, still a healthy beneficial resource, but better suited for fishing and supporting water fowl and wildlife.
Everyone with a vested interest in Lake June should look beyond the plants and focus on why Lake June is changing and how to reverse it. Get active with the Highlands County Lakes Association. Ask what you can do to make a difference. FWC will continue to do its part with public access, and assisting homeowners with permitting for private access.
Working together, a solution is possible. The Journal stated profoundly in an earlier editorial “A middle ground must be found. The opposing parties need to get together and realistically put together a plan which would deal with the problem.”
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Invasive Plant Management Section
2001 Homeland-Garfield Road
Bartow, FL. 33830