Only two months ago at the start of August, Lake Okeechobee was still below the "11 ft above sea level" mark ... and at the tail end of its record-setting 511 day streak below that level. The Lake looked like it was rising out of the cellar just like it did in 2001 (when it rose gradually through the summer and crested at 15 ft near the "wet season's" end in mid November).
That scenario changed when Fay hit and the Lake topped the 15 ft mark by early September in record-setting speed.
Just like that it looked like the Lake "hopped tracks" over into 2004 chart-topping territory.
But those fears were premature ... at least for now. Lake stage has crested, and as of yesterday, it officially dropped a notch below 15 ft, down to 14.97.
There are many people with special interest that would like to see the lake reach 16 ft, as anglers, outdoorsmen and true conservationist of the lake. We would love to see the lake stay between 12ft and 14ft, which is also recommended by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission.
The self-interest opinions of where the Okeechobee lake level should be are not what we need, very few of those opinions have any real interest in whether the god gifted natural lake comes back to it's old form as a world class fishery.
While there's a stir regarding the sell out of U.S. Sugar and the economic impact that area will face, which is a feasible concern. Just maybe we should for once turn our focus to the lake and ask a couple of difficult questions, "what does it need?, what's best for the lake?, what is the future?"
The lake has taken abuse for many years, while providing a huge economic impact to one of the largest industry in Florida, "fishing." The Outdoor recreation industry supports more jobs then Disney World and bring some 5 Billion dollars to our states economy, Lake Okeechobee has always been a big part of that number. This alone deserves our attention, respect and continued support of all parties as it is a Worldwide land mark and a gift for our state. "Let's start treating it like one!"