The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) is working on a plan to manage cattails on Lake Okeechobee.
According to information shared by project managers Alyssa Jordan and Christy Soldo, several areas of Lake Okeechobee have been identified where cattail management would benefit the health of the lake. They would like to prioritize up to 1,000 acres of cattails for management in the fall of 2022. Herbicide will be applied to these areas in October, followed by prescribed burns three to six months later.
“Prescribed fire will open up the area quickly for wildlife use, and it will also consume the dead organic material, so that it does not drop to the bottom of the lake as it decays,” the FWC report explains.
Potential project areas include:
• First Point Scrape, Northwest Marsh – 51.3 acres: Low water levels in the early 2000s allowed for “scrape” projects, which removed heavy vegetation growth and organic sediment (muck) in the northwest marsh. These areas have remained cattail free for almost two decades, and they are often full of dense lily or spikerush stands. Recent encroachment and expansion by dense cattail in these areas makes them a management priority.
• Tin House Slough – 61.3 acres. This area was managed with herbicide in May 2022 but not yet burned. A buffer remains between the canal and the previously treated area. By treating the last 61 acres, FWC will be able to open the entire slough on the southern side of the train.
• Moonshine Bay – 887.4 acres. This marsh at the southeastern end of Lake Okeechobee is comprised primarily of large cattail stands. Historically, expansive areas of lilies and spikerush were in this area. Opening these areas for native plant species may bring additional wildlife and recreational activity back to the area. FWC has conducted extensive cattail removal projects in Moonshine Bay in the past. Approximately 800 acres of cattail were treated in 2021, but they were not able to burn it. This area is used heavily for nesting and foraging by snail kites.