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.