FWC Letter Orange Lake Herbicide Plan
Regarding the proposed FWC plan for spraying herbicides on 2000 acres of Orange Lake:
The Suwannee/St. Johns Sierra Club Group executive Committee agrees with the Alachua Audubon Society: “(FWC’s) plan was very disturbing. It lacked detail, safeguards, and monitoring.” (FWC was included in the Orange Creek Basin Working Group that discussed the condition of the loadings and set Total Maximum Daily Loads for all of the water bodies in the Orange Creek Basin ). In view of the destruction of the wading bird habitat(s) in the middle of Orange Lake which some say has resulted from prior herbicide spraying by FWC, the lake’s proximity to the Floridan Aquifer, the lake’s impaired status due to overload of nutrients, the lake’s inability to drain into Orange Creek due to man-made structure (U.S. 301 box culvert and berm across the old lakebed, the CSX RR crossing, and the Alachua County PWD Weir at U.S. 301), decades of herbicide treatment of the Hydrilla in the lake, the addition of oxygen-depleting dead plant mass after spraying, collateral botanical destruction that will allow more invasive vegetation and necessitate more spraying, and the low water level of the lake itself, the Suwannee/St. Johns Sierra Club has determined that the proposed plan for herbicidal control of the Orange Lake “Tussocks” (Floating Islands) is a non-productive and temporary attempt at solving the condition of Orange Lake.
The proposed Tussock Removal plan may be temporarily helpful to airboat and powerboat operators, but it is considered detrimental to the health of Orange Lake in the long term. The lakebed should be removed by mechanical means and transferred to uplands if the lake is to maintain its role in the recreational and ecological community. Eventually highway U.S 301, the CSX Railroad track, and the Alachua County Weir at U.S. 301 should be removed and replaced by skyway type structure that allow complete lake-bottom drainage.
We suggest a cancellation of this herbicide spraying plan and emphasis on mechanical control of aquatic vegetation on Orange lake (as does the Alachua Audubon Society). We feel the consequences of this plan far outweigh the temporary advantages.
The Suwannee/St. Johns Sierra Club Executive Committee.
Whitey Markle, Conservation Chair.