Invasive aquatic plants have become Lake Seminole’s number one problem and we are not alone. Invasive aquatic plants have become a big problem throughout the United States. These species are not native to a given ecosystem and cause economic or environmental damage or harm to human health.
Some of the most notorious invasive species were originally sold as plants for water gardens and aquariums, and the popularity of these hobbies has led to many aquatic invasive species being introduced into our waterways.
Aquatic invasive species cost the United States over $135 billion dollars annually due to environmental and economic harm.
They damage all types of aquatic habitats, including lakes, streams, and wetlands, by interfering with navigation and water control structures, restricting native vegetation growth, harming fish and invertebrate populations, reducing biodiversity and harming local economies by discouraging anglers and tourists, and decreasing property values.
Lake Seminole has at least 10 different species of invasive aquatic plants and the efforts to place their growth under maintenance control by the Corps of Engineers has suffered because of insufficient and irregular funding.
In Seminole County, and in the entire Lake Seminole region, we are running out of time. We need to research and educate ourselves on all aspects of the specific types of invasive plants we have in Lake Seminole. Once we are more educated about what we are talking about, we can make a smarter request for help. The more intelligent we sound, the more effective we will be.
So let’s start our weed education with the top three:
Hydrilla grows underwater and can root in depths of up to 20 feet. The leaves grow in a circle around the stem in bunches of three to eight. It forms dense mats on the surface of the water. Hydrilla was first introduced into the U.S. as an aquarium plant in the 1950s. Since then it has spread throughout the southeastern and coastal states. This plant can cause significant ecological and economic damage. It restricts native vegetation growth, irrigation, recreation, hydroelectric production, and water flow.
Hydrilla can reproduce by root tubers and plant fragments, allowing it to spread between waterways on boating equipment and in live wells.
Water Hyacinth is a free-floating aquatic plant that has invaded the eastern and southern U.S. The leaves are oval, thick and waxy. The showy blue-purple flowers grow in upright spikes. Water Hyacinth is native to South America and was first introduced as an ornamental into the U.S. in 1884. It now grows throughout the southeastern U.S. and sporadically in the Northeast and Southwest. Water Hyacinth invades lakes, ponds, rivers, marshes, and other types of wetland habitats. It usually reproduces vegetatively and can form dense floating mats of vegetation, which shades the underwater environment. This reduces the light available to submersed plants and invertebrates, and depletes oxygen levels.
Eurasian Water Milfoil is an underwater plant that invades lakes, ponds, and other open waters throughout the United States. Plants are rooted, but the stems grow to the surface, and can be as long as 30 feet. It is easy to recognize by the dense mats formed by the bright green, feathery leaves. Eurasian Water Milfoil is native to Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. It was introduced into the U.S. in the early 1900s. It requires stagnant-to-slowly moving water. Once established it can form dense mats of leaves which restrict light, thereby making conditions difficult for native underwater plants to survive. It displaces the native species of Water Milfoil, and reduces fish spawning and feeding habitats.
The growth of Hydrilla, Water Hyacinth and Eurasian Water Milfoil, as well as the growth of Giant Cutgrass, Water Primrose, American Lotus, Torpedo Grass, Limnophila and Cuban Bulrush, is literally choking the life out of our lake.
Sufficient funding must be obtained to ensure a Lake Seminole victory in the War on the Weeds. Educate yourself on the problems and then present to your elected and appointed State and Federal authorities the realization that the future of Lake Seminole depends on the effectiveness of a fully-funded aquatic weed control program – NOW!
Anything less could spell disaster for the area.
Comments and impressions are welcomed and requested at [email protected]