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DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Polk and Sumter counties of Florida


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February 2003 Newsletter Articles

Lake Hancock Restoration Funding Update
The Real Alien Invaders

Lake Hancock Restoration Funding Update

The recent commentary by Rick Elmhurst, Dec. 27th on BayNews 9, reminded me that those of us working on the restoration of Lake Hancock should keep the goals and logic of that restoration available to the public or subject that restoration to misinterpretation. Rick, who is normally very accurate, seemed to infer that the eutrophic status of a restored Lake Hancock was the reason for the potential delays over its funding. I could be overly sensitive but the following reminder was sent to Rick and it could be useful even to conservationists who might be following the issue.

No one has ever suggested or expected a restored Lake Hancock to be oligotrophic (poorly nourished) or even messoetrophic. Its current tropic state is not merely eutrophic, well nourished, but hypereutrophic, over nourished - so over nourished that it becomes a death trap to sports fish and contributes excess nutrients and foul flavors as far downstream as Charlotte Harbor. Upstream of Charlotte Harbor is Arcadia where the Charlotte County Water Authority picks up drinking water for their large and growing population. They have clean-up and flavor problems when Hancockís flow is high. Lake Hancockís hypereutorphism currently contributes to the degradation of the entire Peace River all the way to and including the Charlotte Harbor National Marine Estuary westward of Punta Gorda. The goal in Lake Hancock's restoration has always been to reduce its extreme hypereutorphism enough to make this, the largest lake on the Peace River system, useful not only for a regional water supply but for recreation within Polk Co. and a significant contributor to the wildlife corridor between Green Swamp and the Charlotte Harbor Marine Estuary. Its role in achieving Minimum Flows and Levels in the Upper Peace River system and its potential contribution of additional water to Polk's and southwest Florida's surface and ground water resources is just now being recognized and expanded.

In short, the recent study showing that Lake Hancock was unlikely to become clear with a white sand bottom is no surprise and does not detract from the restorationís goal to clean-up one of Florida's most polluted lakes for local and regional water supply, recreational and wildlife use, and protection and enhancement of downstream ecosystems (including its significant contribution to Minimum Flows and Levels of the Peace River). So, potential delay in funding is not due to a reduction of the importance of restoring Lake Hancock. If a funding delay occurs, it is due to the current fiscal problems of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the Florida Legislature, and Congress, all of whom are being approached to share in the cost of restoring this regional resource.
...Richard L. Coleman, Co Chair, Bone Valley Issue, Florida Sierra

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The Real Alien Invaders

Florida is so beautifully green! How many of us have heard it from out-of-staters or said it ourselves after returning from the southwest? But upon closer inspection a lot of that green is bad news - it is a canopy of exotic invaders which are creating an ecological crisis all over the state. Indeed, exotic invaders are creating problems all around the world. So what are these invaders? These are plants from another area of the world which are able to flourish and overwhelm native species. The government attempts to eradicate invasives on public land; itís up to us to make certain that our private property does not serve as a nursery (perhaps unwittingly) from which these plants can spread and re-spread.

From newsletter to newsletter as space is available we will run pictures and profiles to help you identify these invaders. Please eradicate them from your yard and educate your neighbors and plant suppliers. Dispose carefully all material which might lead to reproduction and if stumps are left, treat with a herbicide. The pictures we have selected to help you identify these invaders are not chosen on the basis of artistry but rather because they clearly indicate distinctive features. Sometimes we may feel powerless to impact the national scene, but we can impact our local area if we care enough!

Brazilian Pepper
Brazilian Pepper

Donít let those red berries in December lull you into accepting this most widespread of all invasive plants! Brazilian Pepper is a 15 to 30 foot shrub-like tree which produces a dense canopy that shades out almost all other plants and provides poor habitat for native wildlife. It was introduced in Florida in the 1840s from South America and has infested more than 700,000 acres in central and south Florida. It has small white flower clusters, then green berry-like fruit clusters which mature to bright red.

pictures Copyright © 2003, Richard Coleman, All Rights Reserved

Air Potato

This vine (originally from Asia and Africa) forms an impenetrable mass on native trees. It shades out understory vegetation and deprives wildlife of forage habitat. It is a perennial that can cover 60 foot trees; it forms aerial bulbils in late summer. Vines and bulbils (potatoes) must be destroyed. This vine can be found in uplands and lowlands - it is especially common around lakes and canals in our Central Florida area.
...Frances H. Coleman



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masthead picture: Sandhill Crane , published with permission
Copyright © 2003, Richard Coleman, All Rights Reserved

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