LAKE OKEECHOBEE — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission continues to use chemical spraying to control invasive aquatic plants on Lake Okeechobee, but has also added the use of some mechanical harvesting.
The aquatic plant management schedule which started on Dec. 23 and continues through Jan. 3 calls for treatment of 75 acres in Pelican Bay, Halifax Banks and Chauncy Bay with Penoxsulam, and 75 acres of floating plants in the area known as the Monkey Box for hyacinths and Flumioxazin for water lettuce. The application rate for Flumioxazin is 3 ounces per acre and for Penoxsulam is 4 ounces per acre.
FWC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are also conducting mechanical harvesting of floating plants in the Monkey Box. There is an approximate total of 50 acres of invasive vegetation to be harvested. These sites were selected due to the amount of invasive vegetation present combined with appropriate water depths for harvesters to safely operate.
According to the FWC’s “What’s happening on my lake?” web page, vegetation is leaving the Monkey Box, increasing the area needing treatment. The treatment area has been expanded so that contractors can treat the vegetation being moved by wind and boat traffic. Recent boat traffic moving down airboat trails from the Monkey Box into Moonshine Bay is pulling floating plants further into Moonshine Bay. Moonshine Bay currently has no floating plants, so treatment of moving vegetation is important. Floating plants are moving to the north as well to Fisheating Bay, Harney Pond up to Indian Prairie.
Since it is waterfowl hunting season, spraying will not start until 9 a.m.