As several of you may know, habitat management and aquatic plant treatment decisions on Lake Istokpoga are made by FWC though a Working Group comprised of fisheries, waterfowl, wading bird, snail kite, alligator, invasive plant, and aquatic habitat enhancement biologists. We meet face-to-face at least twice a year and have constant email communication with each other when making decisions on how habitat is managed and invasive plants are treated. I am the waterfowl representative on the working group.
My goal is to keep the waterfowling community better informed on habitat and invasive plant control plans for Lake Istokpoga. What follows are the plans for hydrilla treatment on Lake Istokpoga for 2012-2013. Forum restrictions on file size attachments prohibit me from including the maps here. Anyone needing a copy of the maps can request them from me via email (Jamie.Feddersen@MyFWC.com).
Although the agency's position is that management for native SAV is preferred over hydrilla, the Working Group recognizes that some stakeholders would like some portion of Lake Istokpoga to be "managed-for" hydrilla. Our response has been to manage specific areas for low- to moderate-density (in some cases, dense / topped-out) hydrilla that can be beneficial to fish and wildlife and the stakeholders that use those resources. Our current strategy is to establish a "No Treatment Zone" (the area labeled as “Hydrilla Management Area” and indicated in blue on the map) between Big Island and Bumblebee Island marshes and south of Bumblebee Island (about 3,000 acres, when you exclude the portions of the "No Treatment Zone" that include the island marshes). This recommendation provides for an area of no treatment which is located away from access ramps and homeowners. There is currently 600 acres of topped out hydrilla and also contains hundreds of acres of Illinois pondweed and eelgrass. We have recommended that navigation trails (>200' wide) be created if needed or as funding allows within the "No Treatment Zone". Again, based on last year's recommendation, these trails should be created during the winter treatment (February-March) following the waterfowl hunting season.
The areas outlined in red (about 3600 acres) are the areas planned for treatment in early November. Fall treatments should primarily target near-shore hydrilla. These areas are generally in the deeper water outside the cattail line. Fall treatments would meet the desires of fisherman so that near-shore treatment areas would be completed prior to the largemouth bass / crappie spawning season and the peak fishing season. Additionally, fall near-shore treatments would be outside of the snail kite breeding season, so treatments would be less likely to interfere with breeding activities. Ideally, these treatments would allow for expansion of native submersed vegetation in the spring.
There will be NO treatments during the waterfowl season.
Winter hydrilla treatments will be done in mid-February to early March (outlined in yellow on the map). Winter treatments are preferred because treatment conditions are more desirable. Colder water temperatures allow the herbicide to stay active longer and increase efficacy, allowing for lower herbicide concentrations to be used and thus being more cost effective, and should provide for a longer period of control.
The Working Group recommended that areas due north of Big Island and Bumblebee Island and access points (residential communities, boat ramps, and fish camps) be managed as "no hydrilla" zones. Again, treatment could be conducted anywhere within these areas during anytime of the year, except during the waterfowl hunting season, as deemed necessary and appropriate by Invasive Plant Management staff in coordination with Highlands County Aquatic Plant Control.
These plans were presented to the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners Lake Istokpoga Management Committee on Thursday, September 20 at 9am in Conference room 3 of the Bert J. Harris Agricultural Center, 4509 George Blvd in Sebring. We will also be accepting comment on the plans and presenting them again on Tuesday, October 30 at 10am at HL Bishop Park, 10 Lake June Clubhouse Rd in Lake Placid.
There are other plans for cattail treatments and tussock removal as well and those will be presented at both meetings (maps also available). These are generally less controversial and pretty straightforward. Treatment will likely occur in October or early November.
PLEASE contact me at 321-726-2862 if you have questions or concerns about these plans.