It was the right decision.

No, not eradicating the littoral plants in Silverlakes – but rather delaying any real discussion about the water quality report presented by the the Ponds Working Group at yesterday’s Gateway CDD meeting.

The five-member Board of Supervisors just seemed out of energy by the time Ed Tinkle was set to begin his presentation on behalf of the Ponds Group. At the end of it, Chairman William Guy made the point that they could be there “until midnight” discussing the topic, but he preferred to let the Supervisors have until the next GSCDD meeting to digest the report and think of questions.

After the recent uproar in Silverlakes over a district staff member’s decision to kill the littoral plants in that community, the discussion could have quickly spiraled out of control but Guy made sure order was kept in the room.

The main takeaway from Ponds Group’s report is that they feel that each community should follow whatever is in its Development Order in terms of the presence of littoral plants. If a community’s D.O. says nothing about littoral plants, then the GSCDD should have no right to place littoral plants in the lakes within that community, according to the Ponds Group.

On the flip-side of that position, the ponds belong to the GSCDD, so the district is responsible for maintaining them. If the elected Board of Supervisors believes the best way to go is to have littorals then that is their prerogative.

Taking it a step further, Tinkle said that if the Silverlakes Development Order has no requirement for littoral plants then a few Silverlakes residents were willing to file a lawsuit against the GSCDD to remove them. 

Tinkle also said that the various Development Orders for Gateway’s communities have proven difficult to locate so far.

Despite a lack of appetite on the Board’s part to make any motions on the issue, Tinkle attempted pressure the Supervisors in to agreeing to what he calls a 25% standard for littorals. The Ponds Group is apparently recommending that no more than 25% of any pond’s area near the shoreline would have littoral plants.

The Board favors having Gateway’s ponds having more littorals plants than that, as evidenced by a March 2015 vote that called for 100% littoral plants coverage for a handful of lakes that were to be worked on as part of the Lake Bank Restoration Project.

Meanwhile, as the humans squabble over aquatic plant life across the district, the birds have made up their own minds.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had been observing far less birds visiting the ponds in Silverlakes since the littoral plants were destroyed. These are ponds I pass by on average 20 times per day (I am constantly going in and out of the community for work reasons). I expressed my concerns to the district with the caveat that this was only my own opinion and that in no way was I keeping any kind of tracking log.

But now my neighbors are writing to me saying the same thing, including one man who said of the littoral plant eradication, “Unfortunately, the last action has resulted in a drastic reduction in wild life behind my property.”

Since I shared my low bird-count opinion with the GSCDD I have made it a point to observe the number and kinds of birds visiting the lake, and now that I’m paying specific attention it’s completely obvious there are fewer.

Many times there are no birds at all.

It almost feels as though we’re being warned.

Disagree all you like, but the lesson here is that those of you who want to see less plant life from your lanai need to understand that there will most certainly be a domino effect.

Less plants, less fish, less birds.

Welcome to the new Gateway?

Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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