OUT WITH THE BAD

OUT WITH THE BAD — Volunteers with Lake Helen's Save the Lake committee worked June 24 to clear invasive weeds from the city's namesake lake. An aquatic tractor from Sorko Services was enlisted to help. The committee believes herbicides are necessary to assist in removing invasive plants, in addition to “manual removal.”

In our mission to restore our Lake Helen lake, it is important to learn from scientific articles and professionals who have the educational background to understand what the best plan is to implement ecosystem restoration, so that fearmongering is avoided.

It’s important to regard the point of view of scientific organizations made up of many scientists who conduct peer review.

We engaged scientific experts to help us restore Lake Helen lake — the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission — and we are working to help implement the plan those experts made, and to educate people about it.

Invasive plants grow and reproduce vigorously, out-competing native plants, and that process destroys the natural ecosystem.

Even with a dedicated team manually removing the invasive plants, some grow in ways that require superhuman abilities to remove. This intensive manual removal of the plants would cause long-term disruption that would be worse than any harm done by herbicides.

Today, our spraying is for maintenance. The big spray was done almost a year ago.

The FWC plan calls for checking regularly to see if spot treatments are required. The city of Lake Helen has agreed to maintenance checks every three or four months to ensure that massive sprays will not be required again.

Because the spray used in the maintenance treatments will not kill the native plants, this gives time for the natives that were just planted to compete with the invasives. Also, it gives us time to adjust the count of sterile hydrilla-eating carp to help us combat the invasive regrowth.

People believe mechanical removal with a harvester boat is the solution. But this harvester removes all plant life — and any aquatic life that is entangled within the plants.

The machine is incapable of discerning plant from animal, or good plant from bad plant. Not only that, it would not remove the hydrilla tubers stuck in the soil, and the stems that break off during removal are free to sink to the bottom and regrow, worsening the problem in the future.

For the sake of its residents and its lake, Lake Helen needs to make professional choices not based on fear, but under the direction of experts who have dedicated their lives to the study of our Florida ecosystems and who have provided a well-studied plan and scientific research to back up that plan.

— Hopton-Villalobos, who lives in Lake Helen, is a member of the Committee to Save Lake Helen Lake.