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Florida FWC Treats Giant Salvinia...

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Florida FWC Treats Giant Salvinia Invasion in Bay County
For the second time in less than five years, an introduced aquatic plant has been found in two small adjoining lakes in Bay County near Bayhead Landing and close to Deer Point Lake.

The first time it was water hyacinths; now, it's giant salvinia, a floating water plant native to Brazil.

Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) Invasive Plant Management Section spent several hours Wednesday treating the two lakes off Deerwood Avenue. The lakes total about 4 acres. They treated the lakes with an EPA-registered herbicide to prevent the plants' expansion and spread.

The possession of giant salvinia is prohibited under state and federal law, although it is sometimes offered for sale or trade, mainly over the Internet. People dumping aquariums or plants escaping from backyard ponds are common ways for the plant to spread. The source of the current infestation is unknown.

"However it got here, this plant has the potential to get into Deer Point Lake and cause problems similar to the problems it is causing in states west of here," said Matt Phillips, one of two FWC staff treating the lake. "The goal of the program is to eradicate the plant before it can spread to other waters."

Phillips said giant salvinia is already established in Hawaii, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and in several foreign countries. Everywhere that giant salvinia has become established outside of its native range it causes problems. It grows rapidly, producing a canopy that shades out beneficial native vegetation. It forms dense surface mats that impede boating, fishing and swimming and can clog water intakes and drainages.

"We would like people to be aware of the problem so we can curtail any potential spread of the plant," Phillips said.

The FWC asks anyone who thinks they've seen the highly invasive plant to contact the FWC's Invasive Plant Management Section at 850-617-9430.