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Florida's War on Weeds is Killing Fish and Supercharging Red Tide
On any given day, helicopters and an armada of airboats fan out across Florida's fresh waters to spray tank after tank of poison. Pouring millions of gallons of herbicide into rivers and lakes to kill the weeds. What started as sensible navigation and flood control has turned into a million-dollar-a-month chemical addiction that is killing Florida's natural state.

While fast-growing invasive plants outcompete some native species and threaten some waterways, the lush aquatic life serves as the liver and kidneys of Florida's circulatory system. Plants like water hyacinth and water lettuce can clog navigation channels and tangle in propellers, but they are also natural filters that help clean all the pollution flowing out of farms, golf courses and neighborhoods.

Critics argue that by poisoning these plants and letting them sink to the bottom to rot, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation is only adding to the thick layer of fertilized muck that has been building in Florida's wetlands for generations.

When pollution-rich flood water is released into the sea or when hurricanes churn and spread that muck layer across the Gulf of Mexico, scientists believe it serves as a powerful booster shot for naturally occurring toxic algae blooms, including the devastating red tide that occurred in 2017 caused by the churning of waters of Hurricane Irma.  Irma blew across lakes like Kissimmee and Okeechobee, hundreds of tons of dead fish, sea turtles, dolphins and manatees began washing up on Florida beaches.

Since 2013, hundreds of square miles of these wetland filters have been sprayed with dozens of different herbicides at a cost of over $100 million.

 
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Aquatic Weed Harvester and Herbicides Dual Approach to Weed Management - Community members, government entities and water quality advocacy groups have partnered to create a plan to address curlyleaf pondweed in the Iowa Great Lakes. The group is considering weed prevention methods, mechanical removal and herbicide application for the 2018 season. The group hopes to emphasize the first two options over herbicide, as aquatic vegetation provides water clarity in the lakes.


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