The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has issued the following statement:
FWC will conduct aquatic plant control in Lake Okeechobee this month, weather permitting. This linked PDF contains maps and photos outlining the treatment areas. These sites have been identified as critical infestation sites for floating plants as they negatively impact native habitat and navigation and require management on Lake Okeechobee. The low water levels seen around the lake are encouraging the growth of submerged aquatic vegetation. Floating plants in the outlined areas within the treatment plan are shading out the growth of native submerged aquatic vegetation. Floating plants are as well forming large mats which can easily displace native plant communities. This treatment is necessary to limit damage to the diverse native plant communities. For any questions, please contact FWC Invasive Plant Management Section's regional biologist, Brendon Hession, cell: (352) 601-1367 or email: Brendon.Hession@myfwc.com
Barron Moody, FWC Regional Fisheries Manager said, "I know this isn't welcome news to some but I believe these treatments are valuable to the health of the lake. As the announcement states, floating plants are shading areas where beneficial native vegetation, like eel grass and pepper grass should be growing back thanks to the current low stages (water levels). We are seeing recovery of this important submerged vegetation, and I don't want that recovery hindered by floating exotic plants."
These treatments comes following a "pause" that FWC put on herbicide treatments as they held a series of public meetings around the state to get stakeholder input on the program. FWC will be using a mixture of herbicide and mechanical harvesting methods to attack the invasive plants.
See Robert Montgomery's full article on the resumption of FWC's vegetation management efforts here.