THE CORE ISSUE "FINAL CHAPTER" by Scott Wilson
Since I Started my original posts and with "I'm not a scientist, biologist, or water management expert, (THE CORE ISSUE and The CORE ISSUE Part 2)" I will start this final chapter with the statements, "I'm NOT a pessimist, activist, or a gloom and doomer." What I am is a just an average Joe, Florida boy that has loved and even made my living from all aspects of Florida fishing, both fresh and saltwater. With a very special lifelong love of all central Florida's lakes and chain lake systems especially one our our most beautiful gifts of creation the Kissimmee Chain System. I started fishing out of Camp Mack in 1965 or 53 years ago. Having a small weekend home there since the early eighties, passed thru my family I have spent about as much time on these lakes as anyone still living.
In the past seven years I have witnessed the systematic total destruction of more square miles of natural habitat than I can begin to describe, as the direct result of FL 369.20 Florida Aquatic Weed Control Act, and total atrocity
of private contractor spraying to control aquatic vegetation. This lead me to write a blog in August (THE CORE ISSUE and The CORE ISSUE Part 2) after a week long trip that caught the eyes of several people with voices. So a shout of thanks goes out to James Abernethy , Vik Chhabra, and to real science Dr. James Douglass, and Allen Stewart.
Now people are coming out of the woodwork to get on board to address this issue, thanks to all you bass guys, duck hunters, harvester manufacturers, and all on both coasts being devastated by the Bi-Product of our states near criminal activities. I can't begin to say how sorry I am that it's taken destruction of salt water marine life, tourism and everything related, commercial and charter fisheries, eco tourism, property values and tax base to finally get some real attention.
I realize that chemical spraying is but one of a multi faceted, very complex perfect storm of pollution sources, however I believe this is a much larger issue than people want to realize.
After digging for hundreds of hours thru FWC, SFWMD, ACOE, MSDS sheets and Water Atlas reports, and their own data on the exponential increases of chemicals used, the types of chemicals and the fact that in a 2005 FWC report, that knowingly allowed increased doses, with full knowledge that it would have adverse effects on natural habitat. The fact that in 2017 alone total chemical use increased 25% from 713,000 gallons in 2016 to 890,000 gallons in 2017 and that in 2017 Glysophate use increased 250%!
2018 Documented pesticides applied from airboats with tanks, pumps, and spray wands:
WHICH "Brand Names" are APPROVED
by the State of Florida
and WHICH Ones are "NOT" ???
Compare the 2016 and 2017 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Annual Report of Pollutant Discharges to the Surface Waters of the State from the Application of Pesticides usage. Was there an increase in the "Amount Applied" ?
25% total increase 2016-713,000 gallons to 2016-890,000 gallons
How much higher will it be for 2018 ?
How much Glysophate does this equate to?
The issue also stretches far beyond the active ingredients themselves, typically 41-53% active ingredient, but FWC cannot give account for any testing of the chemicals used to disperse and bond these herbicides to plants in water. Most all are listed as "Trade Secret" on the individual products MSDS sheets. Also that on most of the most popular chemicals used list on first page states:
"HARMFUL TO AQUATIC LIFE WITH LONG TERM EFFECTS" !!
Click the Slides to Learn More or CLICK HERE ...and... CLICK HERE
The University of Florida IFAS Extension states and quote,
"Pesticide may be hazardous to human health or to the
environment even when used according to the label".
Chemical spraying is an every day occurrence on the Kissimmee Basin, Big O, and throughout all Florida fresh waterways. However this fall has gone far beyond anything I've ever witnessed. TEN "10" Boats a day for the last month on the entire Kissimmee basin, Big O, and an all out assault by helicopters. At least ten boats brought in from company's in Alabama, all documented on Video. You really think these Alabama boys give two cents about Florida's ecosystem??
The water quality, habitat, and fishery has gotten progressively worse since 2011, but exponentially worse over the last month. Three weeks ago was the first time I have ever seen the entire open water portions of the entire Kissimmee basin covered in the green snot, also filmed.
Last week was opening of duck season. My neighbor at Camp Mack is a very influential, prominent businessman, fighting this issue nearly twenty years. They sent out almost 20 boats of the best duck hunters in the state. Normally they would clean 120 or more birds. This year nine, that's right NINE "9" !! Why because there is no healthy hydrilla or duck weed anywhere on the lake. All the habitat is now non existent because of spraying.
Last week they held a one hundred boat bass tournament with a 60% cancellation due to low water ( I will also address), and poor water quality. Of the forty boats that fished, only eight boats weighed in. Winning total was 16 lbs. In the worst conditions it takes 25 lbs and normally 32 or more lbs to win on Kissimmee Chain.
No one will give answers to why the chain has been drawn down so low. Water levels I measured at official river stations were below 48'. Normal healthy levels in Kissimmee are 52.5 or greater. The water is five feet below normal and is still being released, feeding directly to Big O. Almost every dock is now dry land with likelihood of enough rainfall to make any difference is extremely low. Water usually remains high this time of year to provide for Big O agricultural interests, delivered annually during the dry season. We even ran a ground in Hatch in an area usually holding six feet. At the same time they are holding water very high in west Lake Toho, 57' almost five feet above normal and no one will give an answer why.
You might be wondering what does water level have to do with it?? Well this year they sprayed more than I have ever seen into half the total volume of water, concentrating chemicals to an unprecedented level continually delivered directly to Big O.
August 2018 - Photo credits: James R Abernethy
I honestly believe this year was the, "nail in the coffin" for the entire Kissimmee Basin. It saddens me to no end that Florida's complacency has lead to another dead lake system, to go along with the record number of dead and dying Florida lakes as result of aquatic weed control.
I am very fearful of the results, not begun to be tallied, will have on our saltwater fisheries downstream, or the toxicity of south Florida's drinking water.
Then there is the real kicker, since the passage of aquatic weed control act, there has been thirteen super industrial seventy to ninty foot, hydrilla and floating aquatic harvesters collecting dust,that could easily manage all of north central, central, and even put a huge dent into Big O. Mechanical harvesting removes the legacy nutrients with the plants, they are much slower to grow back, but leave habitat and natural vegetation, and these plants are continually removing nutrients.
What is an Aquatic Plant Harvester?
Aquatic Plant Harvesting, Weed Harvesters, Lake Wales, Florida
Website Link click here
Then our governmental solution is to dig another cess pit south of EAA , estimates are 8 yrs out, to plant with hydrilla to clean water ruined by spraying chemicals on hydrilla.
The only answer is to eliminate nutrients and chemicals at the source. Stopping application of chemicals and nutrients produced by decomposing plants does not cost billions, not eight years out, and if submerged aquatic vegetation allowed to go untouched by chemicals to achieve at least a 30% lake coverage, then mechanically maintained, Floridas toxic lakes will filter themselves naturally. I have seen this firsthand throughout my lifetime.
Florida and the FWC is now totally chemically dependent. I am a retired pastor, sober 22 years and have helped many work thru drug addiction. But just like so many addicted to opioids, because it was prescribed by someone with a title, these people remain in complete denial of short term effects and long term consequences. These are also the hardest people to admit they have a problem, and the most difficult to help rehabilitate.
My heart totally breaks for every person and creature adversely affected by the incompetent decisions made by those employed to protect our State with our federal and state tax dollars. I fear after reports and videos from every corner of this state that this fall was the FINAL CHAPTER for Florida's once pristine water systems.
I have so much more to say on this issue, but this is already way long winded.
More blog posts to come or visit my Facebook Page here
Thank you ! For your valuable time and consideration
Pastor Scott Wilson
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Guest Blogger (Source of Article: CLICK HERE)
The CORE ISSUE Part 2 by Scott Wilson
As a follow up to my previous post, I first want to thank the thousands that took time to read, and share my post on "aquatic weed control" throughout all Florida fresh waterways. I believe this is at the heart of Florida's toxic water quality.
Again I will add my disclaimer, I am no scientist, or biologist but have spent my entire 57 yrs as a successful fisherman, as a commercial/charter captain in the keys for 24 years. I have also regularly fished every major freshwater lake, and chain lake systems since 1967. And our family handed down our Kissimmee river weekend fish camp we have owned since the 1980's.
The first thing any truly successful fisherman learns is to "read the water", its quality, movement, external conditions, and food supplies through the food chain. Although I admittedly am not science educated, I call BS on the science. It has been Florida' "best and brightest" since the late 50's that result in the monumental mess we have now.
I have just returned from a three day trip to our Kissimmee river house, to document for myself the condition of the lakes and water quality, I Logged 20 hours, traveling on my boat, the entire distance of shoreline of all the lakes south of the locks at Toho on Southport canal. Here is the accounts on what I found.
First: Because of excessive rainfall this spring and summer the water levels in lower Kissimmee basin are very high for this time of year, not historic but very high. The water in all lakes and the river is running very hard, meaning the locks on the river are wide open delivering millions and millions of additional water to Big O daily.
Second: the overall water quality is extremely poor, especially in areas that show evidence of recent spraying. The water in Cypress and many huge areas of Kissimmee have the color of "creamed coffee" with near zero visibility, with little or no fish movement.
Third: even with very high water levels covering damage done by spring, evidence of spraying damage can easily be found on every pool the worst being several very large portions of Kissimmee. The Issues are that in these areas it's beyond the chemical poisons, but indiscriminate spraying of any thing green, killing acres on acres of natural vegetation that naturally filter water. A large 5 mile strip, running down the eastern shore from about 1/2 mile point into the shoreline are countless acres of natural vegetation now eradicated! On the east side of Strum Island in North Cove area of the lake, large areas wiped out, with now large floating mats of dead decaying muck. Even completely spraying out one of the last natural stands of "pencil reed" in North Cove.
Forth: We witnessed spraying every day but Monday. Tuesday morning followed a pair of Chemtainer Airboats working in tandem on the NE corner of Cypress Lake. Less than an hour later, we stopped thirty minutes to watch a helicopter spraying in an area on Cypress next to Cypress canal an area not assessable to boat or air boat. On Wednesday morning found a spray air boat working the areas on eastern shore of Kissimmee where there is so much eradication ,working further to the south.
Fifth: after recently completing (2 years ago) a huge multi million dollar contract to dredge the Kissimmee River between Hatch and Kissimmee, needed for "flood control" to have the ability to move more water south. Well apparently according to all the locals failed miserably and filled back in. There is now a project on the opposite side of the river where hundreds of Cypress trees and miles of natural vegetation has been removed, they are dredging from the other side and replacing all the natural vegetation with rip rap for miles.
Sixth: Wednesday morning I spent two hours fishing the major period in a traditional high producing areas with healthy looking vegetation. I caught two largemouth bass both about a pound and a half. However judging by length and mouth size both fish should have weighed in the three pound range. The fish were nearly colorless, looking like they are starving, and both had noticeable tumors on their bodies.
Seventh: On a more positive note, I did find a few areas on Kissimmee and especially on Hatch with improving water quality. All these areas are areas where there is fresh, green, healthy hydrillia starting to top out.
Eighth: I actually had tears when I ran "Grassy Island" on Kissimmee, what was once square miles of some of the most dense vegetation on the lake, Producer of more trophy largemouth through history than almost any place on the chain, is now open water, with only a sprig here and there. There is no place on Grassy you even have slow down
This is a slideshare of pictures by Scott Wilson. Each frame will advance automatically or you can click the arrows to advance to the next frame.
MY CONCLUSION AND SOLUTION
The Kissimmee Lake chain is now sick, from its lessened ability to naturally filter itself.
This is directly related to the tripled down governmental effort to "control" aquatic weed.
I believe with all my heart that hydrillia could save Florida's toxic water quality. There are many governmental scientific types that consider it invasive and have used it as justification for over spraying our lakes with toxic chemicals for decades.
If people are truly serious about saving Florida's water, from chemicals and fertilizers creating nutrients rich outflows now destroying both our fresh and salt water fisheries, our tourist capital and Florida's appeal it's so Simple
STOP THE SPRAYING !! LET THE HYDRILLIA GROW THREE YEARS !!
Hydrillia grows so fast 1-2 inches a day in good conditions, it produces massive amounts of oxygen, rapidly depletes nutrients like nitrogen, and phosphorus, holds and produces massive amounts of fish life, and can be controlled without chemicals using "paddle wheel" harvesters
So how would we fund a large fleet of paddle wheel harvesters ??
Simple : I do not know any fisherman that would not gladly be assessed a small $5 fee to save our fisheries, beaches, and tourism. Add a small impact fee to everyone holding, and out of state fishing license holders.
Perhaps reroute some funds from tourism impact fees.
Anyone remember what The Almighty did in wake of the BP gulf spill, when we were told the gulf may never recover from massive amounts of oil on the bottom.
A never before seen organism that eats oil, shows up, eats the oil, and now they cannot find any oil on the bottom of the gulf
God has an amazing way of putting the right things, at the right places, at the right times. Maybe just maybe hydrillia is our answer
The answers and policies of the "best and brightest" is what got us to this point, maybe we just need to let creation fix itself, it has an amazing track record
STOP THE SPRAYING
LET THE HYDRILLIA GROW TWO OR THREE YEARS
WHAT DO WE HAVE TO LOOSE?? BUT EVERYTHING WE LOVE
Thank you again for your time and consideration
Pastor Scott Wilson
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Guest Blogger (Source of Article: CLICK HERE)
The CORE ISSUE by Scott Wilson
I'm going to start with my "disqualifying" bio. I am no scientist, biologist or expert on water management. I am a Florida boy raised on the south end of Tampa Bay, A retired church plant pastor, Have Owned a weekend fishcamp home on the Kissimmee River over thirty years. Lived and owned a commercial / charter vessel in Marathon and commercial fished in the keys 24 years. As son of a three time Bass Masters Classic qualifier in the 70's I have spent massive amounts of time for over 50 years, on every Florida lake, and chain lake system, from Seminole to the Big O, and everywhere in between. By definition I'm no expert, however by practical experience alone I actually have a clue. The old saying "experience is the best teacher" certainly applies.
Everyone is pointing fingers at Big Sugar, septic seepage, and the Army Corps.
And all have played a very significant role in this crisis.
I had never heard of blue/ green algae as a significant issue until three years ago.
Why ? Because it was not a significant issue. But this timeline is not coincidence.
The "CORE ISSUE" no one is talking about is "AQUATIC WEED CONTROL"
For the past five years the state of Florida has "tripled down" on the spraying of aquatic weeds and grasses on every lake system I regularly fish, Orange / Lockoloosa, Harris Chain, entire Kissimmee Basin, and of course Big O.
This spraying is being done by "private contractors" that I have had direct personal interaction, that claim they are being paid "by the gallon" to spray. On Kississmee alone there are a fleet of six airboats, doing twelve hour six day weeks. But because of the pay arrangements they are not only eradicating invasive species, they have wiped out hundred of sq miles of natural lake vegetation resulting in a more limited ability for these lakes to filter themselves. On Lake Kissimmee a traditional super hot spot fishery called "grassy island", square miles, that was so dense with vegetation you had to be in a "kicker trail" or an airboat, or you were stuck, is now "open water"!!
Some of these guys doing the spraying are total buggers. Three years ago on Kissimmee, because I wouldn't leave a fishing spot, they made a pass by my boat, getting overspray on my gunnels, out came my opinionated arm, and now they stay clear of this ole boy.
This year on Lake Lockcoloosa, they managed to kill every stick of hydrillia. Where just two years ago produced the prettiest, most colorful, healthy Specks (crappie) in Florida, this year the fish were brown/yellow colored and taste like mud.
How is this connected to blue green algae and red tide disaster we are seeing??
First: All Florida water systems (fresh and salt) are interconnected,
and each depends on the overall health of the other.
Second: Vast amounts of dying, decaying vegetation severely limit a lakes ability to filter itself naturally, and deplete oxygen levels, severely raise nitrogen levels
Third: for the last 40 or so years there is a major winter drawdown of the Kississmee basin, fed directly to Big O to provide for the Sugar industry. This is why the river was straightened in the 60's, not for "water management" but to provide a faster more direct access in the dry season for the Sugar industry.
Fourth: the time frame. The appearance of blue green algae in Big O, happens only after the massive "weed control" campaign on Kississmee Chain, and The O.
I heard the Army Corps say the other evening "we have no choice" but to let the water go, this is not exactly true. It was a massive cluster hump mistake this year. This year was one of the lowest drawdowns of Kississmee basin I've ever seen. Coupled with extra ordinary rains in April and May and now the additional water has to go somewhere.
But something even most Floridans don't know this has happened before in 1988, that I witnessed first hand. In 1988 the Corps used SWFWMD canals to send toxic overflow south to Flamingo and discharged into Florida Bay at East Cape. Remember I was a commercial crawfisherman then and witnessed first hand the worst ecological disaster I'd ever seen. From north of Lostmans river to just north of the park line near Islamorada and out 15-20 miles completely wiped out. Every sea grass bed, sponge, soft coral, mammals, fin fish, crawfish, and stone crab either dead or gone. But because it was not in front of million dollar homes, condos, or resorts it was completely swept under the rug. They called it "brown tide" and later "black tide" but the smell of death would knock you down 7 miles off NW Cape and Shark river. Nothing but barnacle would grow in an 800 sq mile area for three years and when I left the Keys in 2005 there were large areas still not fully recovered.
So I bet you're wondering why such a rant, does he have a solution?
Yes !!! And it's costs nothing and is very simple
STOP THE SPRAYING !!!
If the powers that be would stop aquatic weed "control", and just let the hydrilla, coon tail and other natural species grow, let the hydrillia top out and grow for two to three years, Florida chain systems including Big O, will filter out naturally, deplete the nitrogen and phosphorus levels, and the water will show vast improvement first year, and would be pristine and clear again by the end of the third year.
I have witnessed this first hand at least five cycles on Kississmee in my lifetime.
Obviously there are other measures needed, containment around cane fields, restoring the natural filtering flow to the south through the Everglades . But my plan would go a long way fast and at zero expense to restore Floridas Toxic water quality
Thanks for your, time, concern and consideration
Share if you can
Pastor Scott Wilson
Source of post CLICK HERE
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Disclaimer, I am no scientist, or biologist but have spent my entire 57 yrs as a successful fisherman, as a commercial/ charter captain in the keys for 24 years. I have also regularly fished every major freshwater lake ,and chain lake systems since 1967. And our family handed down our Kissimmee river weekend fish camp we have owned since the 1980's.
The first thing any truly successful fisherman learns is to "read the water" ,its quality, movement, external conditions, and food supplies through the food chain. Although I admittedly am not science educated, I call BS on the science. It has been Florida' "best and brightest" since the late 50's that result in the monumental mess we have now.