Stakeholders hope future plan for Lake O will benefit Florida environment

Published: August 18, 2021 6:00 PM EDT
Updated: August 18, 2021 6:26 PM EDT

Pro angler Scott Martin has called the shore of Lake Okeechobee home since he was a kid.

“I remember some of my first trips out here on the lake when I was just maybe five or six years old with my dad,” Martin said.

Martin knows just how big a role the lake plays in Florida’s environment.

Stakeholders, like Martin, hope a new management plan for Lake Okeechobee will be beneficial to the lake, the communities around it, and to the coasts.

And that means keeping the Lake’s water level from getting too high or too low.

Right now, Lake O’s water level is just under 14.5 feet and it’s expected to rise more than a foot over the next month.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently working on improving the foundation for the new lake plan, but if could take as long as the end of 2022 before it goes into effect.

“We have to manage Lake Okeechobee in a way that’s going to promote this vegetation to grow again so the water can filter itself for free,” Martin said. “It allows the fist to spawn. The grass filters the water out, makes that water clean and clear and allows those fish to thrive.”

And when the fish and environment thrive, it allows humans and the economy to also thrive.

“We’re a small voice here on Lake Okeechobee, all the people around Lake Okeechobee, and all the small communities here,” Martin said. “Small communities but big hearts, big families, a lot of history here around the lake.”