The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will be conducting an aerial spray of herbicide on Orange Lake on Friday. The goal of the spray is to balance the lake’s habitat by eliminating excess willow trees, which now add up to double what is ideal for the Orange Lake environment, and stop the lake from having more diverse vegetation.
Project Manager Patrick McCord said the FWC is using extreme caution to ensure wildlife and public safety. He said the herbicide goes through rigorous and stringent testing before it is approved for use in aquatic environments. The majority of the spray will target marshes that are nearly inaccessible to the public. FWC officers will be patrolling just outside of the spray-zone to keep people away from the areas.
A helicopter will follow the designated spray-zone and release an even layer of herbicide in the form of a mist. It will fly low to the ground so it can distribute the spray as accurately as possible. On average, the spray stays within a foot of the designated spray-zone perimeter.
McCord said that aerial spray is one of the most accurate and cost-effective options to remove the excess vegetation from Orange Lake. The results of the spray could last for several years and allow the FWC to employ smaller-scale methods between sprays. In the past, this has included controlled burns of the lake’s excess vegetation.