Lake Istokpoga Management Plan Meeting Jan. 14

Review of a draft management plan for Lake Istokpoga in Highlands County will be held Tuesday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Bert J. Harris Jr. Agriculture Center, 4509 George Blvd., Sebring.

The plan was prepared by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in consultation with various stakeholder groups around the lake in response to concerns about declining environmental conditions in the lake and questions about current management activities.

The lake, which is the one of the largest in the state, has faced the same problems that are familiar on most other lakes in the state, such as declining wildlife, infestation by exotic vegetation and increased urban pollution. In addition, the FWC’s management activities—particularly seemingly poorly regulated herbicide spraying—has been an ongoing issue here and elsewhere in the state.

One of the proposals to emerge in the plan is for FWC to do a better job of communicating with the public and exercising more oversight over spraying operations.

Some other proposals include improving navigation within the lake and in its tributaries, revegetating near -shore areas with more desirable aquatic vegetation and working with lakefront homeowners to persuade them to use more environmentally-friendly practices on their property when it comes to lawn care and fertilizer use and aggressive removal of aquatic vegetation on the lakeside of their property.

A summary of the draft report is available at https://lakeistokpoga.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/hmp_summary.pdf .