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Aquatic Plant Management Agencies

Laws are in place to protect Florida from invasive plants.

Some laws limit or restrict the transport or possession of certain plants. The management and control of these plants is directed by various managing agencies. These include the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and Water Management Districts (WMDs).

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

FDACS is responsible for the protection of Florida’s plant industries, native plant life and the detection and early response to new invasive plants and plant pests. The agency is responsible for implementing and enforcing state laws, rules, regulations and programs pertaining to plants and plant pests. FDACS evaluates and registers all herbicides used in Florida, including those applied to water bodies. FDACS has authority over prohibited and invasive plants in Florida and require permits for transporting, growing or possessing invasive species in Florida and regulates certification and licensing of herbicide applicators.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The legislature designated the FWC as the lead agency to coordinate and fund the control of invasive aquatic and upland plants on public water bodies and public conservation lands. The FWC also directs the research and planning related to these activities to protect human health, safety and recreation and ensures beneficial native aquatic plants are protected through permitting programs. The FWC works to conserve valuable habitat for Florida’s fish and wildlife.

U.S Army Corps of Engineers

USACE manages the floating invasive plants water hyacinth and water lettuce within designated Federal Navigation Projects. Floating invasive plants in these systems are routinely managed to sustain their navigability according to the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. USACE also manages water levels and supply for many areas in the state and conducts research to develop technology for managing invasive aquatic plants.

Water Management Districts

Most of WMDs manage water levels and supply throughout the state and are responsible for many water quality improvement projects. Most also have their own invasive plant control programs. The WMDs also work in waters not eligible for funding from the FWC, because aquatic plant management is critical to keeping flood control infrastructure functioning. WMDs control invasive plants in wetlands they own or manage for restoration purposes.

Any questions should be directed to Shelby Thomas at soesterreicher@ufl.edu. For more information about the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, please visit http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu. Be sure to follow us on social @UFIFASCAIP.

UF/IFAS CAIP, Turning Science Into Solutions.