Flora and Fauna of Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee (or, Lake O) comprises 730 square miles and is the second largest lake entirely within one state in the United States. The Lake, “Big Water” in Seminole,” is approximately 15 feet deep depending upon the need to sustain the ecology of the Lake. Lake O is the only lake that may be seen with normal human vision from outer space.

The dominant fauna of the lake is fish. The wide-mouthed bass is the dominant fish; Lake O sustains more wide-mouthed bass than any other freshwater lake in the country.  The dominant flora are the submerged plants and algae upon which small fresh water animals and snails feed. The Nineteenth century regarded the Kissimmee River-Lake O-Everglades ecosystem as America’s least explored  “last frontier.”

Large-mouth bass in Lake Okeechobee
Large-mouth bass in Lake O

Until 1910, the United States Government had never even surveyed the Everglades.  Spain ceded Florida to the United States largely because of its inhospitable environment.

The intentional raising of the water level in more recent years has cut off the light to many of the smaller underwater plants. Where once lake water had been pristine and clear, Lake O is now muddy, dirty and–sick.

Wading birds no longer wade as water rises in the lake. Black crappie, wide-mouth bass, and other sunfish die off as bulrushes no longer populate the water. The Lake no longer attracts wild ducks as it had in the past. Large quantities of fertilizer for Big Sugar further sicken Lake O, spurring the growth of sugar cane and other choking plants, disrupting the River of Grass in its naturally slow movement south to the tip of the Florida peninsula.

On the prairies, otters, waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds have long escaped man’s insatiable quest to tinker with Mother Nature, no longer inhabiting Lake O.  Above the Lake, Man’s straightening of the Kissimmee River interrupted the natural flow of a network of estuaries, feeding vast prairies. Four hundred tons of phosphorus enter the Lake every year from the Kissimmee River system as a result of fertilizing crops.

Make no mistake. We have the technical answers.  Whether we have the will or not to stop Big Sugar from reneging on its agreement to help fix a broken ecosystem unlike any other in the world remains an open question.

Master Plan for the Corps’ Restoration of the Herbert Hoover Dam (Video)

Author’s commentary of the plan and video.  Tap on the link below to see video.

The video you are about to view appears to represent the Corps’ plan.

But as the story of the Dam restoration unfolds over eight decades from crude levees to more sophisticated levees, the plan appears to reflect merely short-term appropriations of funds, e.g., that address  “fixes” instead of a real overall plan that assures taxpayers living in Southwest and Southeast Florida that an overall plan will provide protection or something short of “complete” protection. Without assigning blame, the “system” apparently leaves the taxpayer hanging if the latest fix doesn’t provide complete protection to at least some of the taxpayers living around Lake O.

Will Congress appropriate and spend ALL of the money necessary to protect the taxpayers?  If Congress fails to appropriate the amount the Corps requires for any future budget requests will we be worse off with the fixes then in place?  In other words, is the master plan an ‘all or nothing’ plan or will future “fixes” provide any tangible benefits to the taxpayer?

Judge for yourself. Let me hear ftom you.  And now for the video, about 6 minutes long:



Wanderlust Wednesday: The Venice of the North; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: the Venice of America.

The City of Fort Lauderdale has promoted itself as the ‘Venice of America’ for almost  a century because of its  more than one hundred miles of manmade and natural canals throughout the 36-square-mile city.  But before it proclaimed itself the ‘Venice of America’ beginning in the 1920s, its weekly newspaper advertised the town on its masthead as the ‘Gateway to the Everglades’.  Under Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward (1905-1909), the State of Florida began a massive project to drain the Everglades to open up millions of acres of arable land for agriculture on a scale the world had never known.  The plan was to dredge five canals from Lake Okeechobee to both Florida coasts. The first to reach the Lake was the New River Drainage Canal in 1912, starting at Fort Lauderdale; hence the moniker, ‘Gateway to the Everglades’.

“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin,” from “The Fault in Our Stars.”   Amsterdam, nicknamed the “Venice of the North,” is a city I would like to visit as part of my Wanderlust Wednesday. My friend, […]