Restoration of Okeechobee Ecosystem Under Consideration
OKEECHOBEE, FL On Friday, September 25, 2009, the County commissioners of Glades, Hendry and Lee, along with Forest Michael, Landscape Architect, Lynn Topel, Executive Director of the Florida Heartland Rural Economic Development Initiative (FHREDI) and the South Florida Water Management District, will present a single-topic agenda, the restoration of Lakes Hicpochee and Lake Clewiston.
The 10 County Coalition Meeting will be held at the Okeechobee County Health Department, 1728 NW 9th Ave., Okeechobee, FL.
The restoration of Lake Hicpochee (4.5 mi x 3 mi), located along the Caloosahatchee river between LaBelle and Clewiston, was drained in the 1880s by Hamilton Disston under a State of Florida contract, is under consideration by the 10 County Coalition Commissioners. The opportunity exists to invigorate the area economically while improving water storage and quality.
This was recently envisioned by Glades residents in the Glades Visioning Process, and other concerned people.
Also under consideration by the Commissioners is a 728-acre portion of Lake Okeechobee which was severed by the Herbert Hoover Dike in the 1930s at historic Sand Point, also known as the Clewiston Waterfront. This lake is called ''Lake Clewiston'' and was originally envisioned by Clewiston Commissioner Franklyn Jones, P.E. in the 1990s.
Lake restoration opportunities include providing revenue generating eco-tourism sites and lakefront economic development sites. Specific opportunities include improving southwest Florida's estuarine health, birding and nature watching, pleasure boating, fishing, hunting, native habitat restoration, hiking, paddling, Pre-Columbian archaeological interpretation and improved scenic viewsheds.
Water storage and water quality improvement areas are also proposed for the Caloosahatchee, as one integrated improvement. The historic ''Headwater Lakes'' will help protect the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary and the Caloosahatchee River as they did before the 1880s dredging. Floodplain areas are intended to protect residents as well as maintaining the current water levels and this project will increase flood protection for the area.
Please call (863) 462-5819 for directions to the meeting in Okeechobee.