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FGCU, FWC team up to restore Lake Trafford using eelgrass

When it comes to things to do in our state, it usually always involves water. Now, Florida Gulf Coast University and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are working together to restore one lake using eelgrass.

Lake Trafford, located in Collier County just west of Immokalee, encompasses approximately 1,500 acres, and there’s no shortage of beauty on the lake.

Before groups including FGCU stepped up, plants and native fish, like largemouth bass, were lacking.

FGCU Water School ecology and environmental studies professor Dr. Win Everham said, “Today we’ll be out on Lake Trafford as part of this long-term process to restore Lake Trafford.”

Everham tells says after the lake lost a lot of fish about 20 years ago from nutrient loading and invasive plants, now state money’s helping repair it.

“We’re going into the second decade of trying to guide it to full recovery,” Everham explained, “planting native plants; FWC does stocking of native fish.”

Graduate student Kylie Porter keeps tabs on largemouth bass and tries to learn more about why the species doesn’t appear to reproduce enough on its own,

She said, “It could be invasive species are preying on them. It could be that they don’t have enough substrate, sandy substrate to create their nests on. There are many possible reasons as to why.”

On Wednesday we checked on fish species and the underwater vegetation FGCU previously planted.

Everham added that a balance of nutrients is important, “If you’ve got a healthy population of plants, then when extra nutrients get into the lake, the plants take up the nutrients instead of the algae and you don’t get those algae blooms.”

All in an effort to clean up the lake for wildlife and the community.

In the future, Everham hopes to see a community service project for FGCU students to plant eelgrass.

The idea is to plant enough eelgrass to re-establish itself while turtles and fish still eat it.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
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