FWC seeking ideas to kill harmful, invasive plants without killing the good ones

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne
Published: Updated:
FILE – Invasive plants (Jim Abernathy)

How do you kill harmful, invasive plants without killing the good ones?

If you have any ideas, the State wants to hear them. Wildlife officials set aside money for research and are asking lawmakers for more.

Florida’s waterways, animals and plant life form a delicate ecosystem. But often, uninvited guests move in.

“What I thought was a problem on Lake Okeechobee is actually a statewide problem,” said Ramon Iglesias, co-founder of Anglers for Lake Okeechobee.

Iglesias sees the impact of invasive species on our waterways, but he also sees what happens when herbicides are used to control them.

“We feel there’s a residual in the water that creates more problems later on down the line where they’re basically not targeting a certain plant, but a certain plant will die,” he said.

Iglesias and scientists say there are alternatives to spraying.

“What we’re looking for is mechanical harvesting,” said Iglesias.

Now, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is looking for new ways to control those invasive aquatic plants without the use of chemical sprays like herbicides.

“What really makes them dangerous is that they push out native vegetation,” said Horticulture Extension Agent with UF/IFAS Extension Lee County, Stephen Brown.

Those invasive plants caught Brown’s attention and University of Florida researchers, particularly as they relate to stormwater ponds.

“Any community that has a water body, different organisms can move plant material into that body and as much as it would on dry ground, a dry landscape,” said Brown.

“All of these people that are giving their time, we want something different for the health of our lakes,” said Iglesias.

Healthier lakes and water for generations to come.

If you have an idea about how to solve this issue, the FWC wants to hear it. Click here for more information and to submit your ideas. You have until Jan. 7, 2020 to respond.

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