The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will conduct aquatic plant control on Lake Rousseau from Nov. 27 through Dec. 8, weather permitting. Lake Rousseau is part of the Withlacoochee River and is located in parts of Citrus, Levy and Marion counties west of Dunnellon.
Invasive hydrilla will be treated only in boat trails, but water lettuce and water hyacinth will be treated throughout the lake.
Boat trails requiring hydrilla treatment to maintain navigation include County Trail A, Shoreline Trail south of County Trail A and the trail to the locks.
Biologists anticipate treating about 82 acres of hydrilla and 100 acres of water lettuce and water hyacinth with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved herbicides.
Hurricane Irma significantly impacted previously scheduled aquatic plant control operations on Lake Rousseau. Low oxygen levels led to postponement of floating plant treatments until mid-October and postponement of hydrilla treatments until now.
High rainfall and flows in the Withlacoochee River flushed large amounts of floating plants into Lake Rousseau during September. This event has caused floating plants to exceed maintenance control levels, necessitating the scheduling of these current operations. The same high rainfall and Withlacoochee River flows also controlled a significant amount of hydrilla in the middle part of the lake. However, hydrilla has continued to expand in the western part of the lake since Hurricane Irma.
“There will be no restrictions on recreational activities, such as fishing or swimming, during the treatment period,” said Bruce Jaggers, an FWC invasive plant management biologist. “Any edible fish caught that are legal to keep may be consumed.”
There is a 7-day restriction for using water from treated areas for drinking or for animal consumption. However, there are no restrictions for other uses of treated water such as irrigating turf, ornamental plants and crops.
Hydrilla is an invasive aquatic plant spread easily by boats throughout Florida’s lakes and rivers. While recreational anglers and waterfowl hunters may see some benefits from hydrilla, there are other potential impacts to consider, including negative impacts to beneficial native habitat, navigation, flood control, potable and irrigation water supplies, recreation and the aesthetic qualities of lakes. The FWC strives to balance these needs while managing hydrilla.
For more information contact Bruce Jaggers at 352-726-8622.0