FWC News Release
Media contact: Karen Parker, 386-754-1294

Davis Lake, part of the Tsala Apopka chain of lakes near Inverness in Citrus County, is the site of a project being conducted to improve fish and wildlife habitat, as well as water circulation, in the marsh.

Heavy woody material, mostly large willow trees and organic muck associated with them will be removed from the area, according to Ed Hayes, biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

The project is expected to take four months to complete. Material is being removed using a hydraulic excavator sitting on a barge. The excavator places the material on transport barges, which move it across the lake to an offload site. There, another excavator transfers the material to dump trucks that carry it to an upland disposal site.

While the trees appear to be on solid ground, the area is actually composed of floating masses of vegetation called tussocks.

“These tussocks typically form during periods of extremely low water when the muck on the bottom of the lake is exposed,” Hayes said. “Plants will quickly sprout on this exposed muck and form a solid mass. When the water level rises, this mass of vegetation can break loose from the bottom and float to the surface.”

Over time, tussocks can form large islands with very heavy vegetation, including trees up to 30 to 40 feet tall.

“Tussocks do provide valuable habitat to a variety of fish and wildlife species. A certain amount can be considered beneficial. However too many tussocks can actually negatively impact fish and wildlife by covering up other beneficial habitats, such as grassy marshes,” Hayes said.

Removing the tussocks will improve water circulation in the marsh and allow the grasses and water lilies to return. The improvements will provide valuable habitat for a variety of birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians.

For additional information, contact Ed Hayes at 352-800-5023 or via e-mail at Ed.Hayes@MyFWC.com.