The Corps of Engineers shall chair, and actively solicit participation in the Lake Okeechobee Aquatic Plant Management Interagency Task Force. The Task Force members will represent State of Florida agencies (including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the South Florida Water Management District), state Universities, the Corps of Engineers, and other Federal agencies. The Task Force will serve in an advisory capacity, providing multi-disciplinary technical and scientific data from which the Corps' aquatic plant management strategy, methodology, and research planning and operational efforts will evolve. The focus of the aquatic plant effort will be to benefit the overall ecological health of Lake Okeechobee.
Beginning August 10, 2015 the SFWMD will be coordinating aerial herbicide treatments on Lake Okeechobee. Treatments will target 878 acres of monotypic stands of cattail in the Moonshine Bay Area and 47 acres of boat trail access south of the Monkey Box Run. Treatment areas are shown on the map. Marsh access might be limited in treatment areas during herbicide applications.
To improve fish and wildlife habitat quality, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) plans to conduct prescribed fire across roughly 10,000 acres of Lake Okeechobee's Moonshine Bay when weather permits between of October 29 and November 2. The FWC manages Lake Okeechobee's littoral zone marsh cooperatively with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, South Florida Water Management District, and Audubon of Florida. Application of prescribed fire is part of an integrated habitat management approach on Lake Okeechobee. Prescribed fire is a safe way to apply natural processes, ensure ecosystem health, and reduce the threat of wildfire. Ecologically responsible prescribed fires help improve habitat for fish, waterfowl, wading bird, Everglade snail kite, and other wildlife populations. For public safety, during the time of fire, access to navigational trails through Moonshine Bay may be temporarily limited. For more information, contact FWC's Okeechobee Field Office at 863-462-5190 or visit the Lake Okeechobee Aquatic Plant Management Interagency Task Force Website (Blocked//www.floridainvasives.org/Okeechobee/index.cfm).
Moonshine Bay was historically a highly productive open water marsh system within Lake Okeechobee. Through the past couple decades, fish and wildlife habitat has been altered through aggressive invasion by dense stands of cattail. FWC habitat managers have developed a Moonshine Bay management plan with the goal of reducing cattail coverage. As part of this management plan, in the Spring of 2015, 2,400 acres of dense cattail were treated with EPA registered herbicide. The next stage of habitat management in Moonshine Bay is to apply fire to the dead standing cattail. Burning these dead plants will prevent material from falling to the Lake bottom, thus reducing organic sediment accumulation - this is important for maintaining sportfish spawning habitat. Burning cattail will also allow sunlight to reach the Lake bottom in Spring and early Summer; allowing germination and growth of a more desirable and diverse native plant community.
The next Lake Okeechobee Aquatic Plant Management Interagency Task Force meeting will be held on Wednesday, 15 June 2016, at the SFWMD Okeechobee Service Center, Okeechobee, FL. This meeting will begin at 10:00 a.m. Please send me any agenda items that you would like to add for discussion.
Okeechobee Service Center
3800 NW 16th Boulevard, Suite A
Okeechobee, FL 34972
Fax: (863) 462-5385
Access Code: 3923394
Security Code: 1234