Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Plants At Lake Trafford

50,000 Bulrush Plants Around Lake

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission just finished planting approximately 50,000 bulrush plants in Lake Trafford at Immokalee. The plants could help accelerate restoration efforts on Lake Trafford, the largest lake south of Lake Okeechobee. The lake is an important resource for boating, fishing and wildlife-viewing opportunities, says the FWC.

Bulrush creates a highly desirable fish and wildlife habitat. Such marsh plants effectively reduce wave energy in the shallow area of the lake. This will allow for future planting and/or establishment of other beneficial submerged plants. Bulrush can grow up to 10 feet tall in shallow water.

'Once established, the plants should help concentrate fish and provide excellent angling opportunities,' said FWC freshwater fisheries biologist Barron Moody. 'But cooperation from the pubic is needed for the plants to thrive.'

On Friday, June 12, FWC biologists will post signs around the recently planted area to restrict access. The FWC requests that boaters operate with caution in these shallows until the plants have an opportunity to become well-established, which could take four to six months.

Over the past few years, the lake has been the focus of a multimillion-dollar, multi-agency restoration project. So far, participants have dredged the lake of 4 million cubic yards of muck that, in the past, has triggered algal blooms and fish kills. To date, the FWC has contributed $3 million for dredging Lake Trafford. Dredging could be complete by 2011.

Once dredging is complete and the emergent species, such as bulrush, become established, the FWC has prepared a long-term management plan to re-establish other varieties of submerged and emergent native aquatic vegetation in Lake Trafford. These future plantings will help to increase fish and wildlife habitat, providing for additional fishing, wildlife-viewing and tourism opportunities.

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