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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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.