How High Lake Okeechobee Levels Are Threatening South Florida's Largemouth Bass Fishery

Lake Okeechobee's high levels are damaging its epic largemouth bass fishery, which requires submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) to spawn.

The loss of the largemouth bass fishery is devastating for South Florida's ecosystem and economy, which depends on fishing and recreational activities.

The Army Corps of Engineers must prioritize responsible management of Lake Okeechobee to ensure the preservation of this vital resource.

With the lake barely dipping below 14 feet this year, the plants that grow in the 9-to-11-foot contour of the lake didn't get enough sunlight to grow.

As a result, only about 3,000 acres of vegetation are thriving, compared to the 40,000 acres that once existed.

Since 2008, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has mostly kept the lake between 12.5 and 15.5 feet above sea level.

However, lower levels are necessary during the winter and spring, and the lake rises during the rainy summer months.

The Army Corps of Engineers must take into account the impact of their management decisions on the lake's ecology and wildlife.

To ensure that Lake Okeechobee remains a healthy and vibrant ecosystem, a balance must be found between water management decisions and preserving the ecology and wildlife.

High lake levels also affect other wildlife. Snail kites, a species that inhabits the lake, are doing well, but the marsh is not.

Water birds and dabbling ducks can't reach the bottom of the lake, and their food source has changed to a larger, invasive snail.

The decline of native snails is a concerning issue, as the ecosystem depends on them to sustain the snail kite population.

Will the Army Corps' new management plan be enough to save Lake Okeechobee's threatened bass fishery? What impact will it have on the lake's ecology and wildlife?

Zero Lake Okeechobee water is flowing to the Caloosahatchee River at this time.

The Army Corps is expected to adopt a new Lake Okeechobee management plan later this year.

By advocating for responsible management of Lake Okeechobee, we can ensure that South Florida's waterways and wildlife thrive for generations to come.

It's up to all of us to protect this vital resource and preserve it for future generations.

With a new release schedule coming soon, it remains to be seen how Lake Okeechobee will fare in the future.

The future of Lake Okeechobee depends on the Army Corps of Engineers adopting a responsible management plan that prioritizes the lake's ecology and wildlife.

It's important that we all work together to ensure that this vital resource is preserved for future generations.