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FWC working to keep Lake O’s water healthy

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is looking for your help and opinions on how to keep the water healthy.

Whether you hit Lake O for leisure, good fishing or simply getting from point A to point B, its health impacts more than people.

“That includes wading birds, there’s snail kites and their nesting habitat, as well as a fishery,” said Dr. Barry Rose, professor at the Water School at FGCU.

FWC wants to come up with a plan to help guide the future of the lake. The plan would range from invasive plant management to fishery regulations.

“You could ask 10 different stakeholders 10 different opinions of what Lake Okeechobee should look like,” said Captain Chris Wittman, program director of Captains for Clean Water.

Wittman says the big goal for the lake should be clean water, a healthy ecosystem and thriving habitat.

“Talking with and visiting with the anglers that fish Lake Okeechobee, the number one thing that they always say is how water quality affects the fishery, but more importantly, how vegetation, or lack of vegetation, affects the quality of the fishing,” he said.

When it comes to managing non-native plants, some say those plants could be beneficial.

“Even though some of these plants aren’t native, is there a better balance for the health of the ecosystem than to just completely try to eliminate them through chemical management,” Wittman questioned.

If you’re interested in sharing your thoughts and ideas on how to manage Lake O, click here to fill in FWC’s questionnaire. 

 

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Briana Harvath
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