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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has begun a multiple-phase habitat restoration project on East Lake Tohopekaliga, also known as East Lake Toho, in Osceola County.
In preparation for the lake Drawdown and Habitat Enhancement Project, the FWC is working with the South Florida Water Management District to release water from the lake from the S-59 structure in the outfall canal on the south shore of the lake. The releases started Oct. 20 and will continue through the next few months.
The lake will be dropping at a rate of approximately 1 foot per month until the target low-water level elevation of 53.0 feet. is reached in mid-February.
East Lake Tohopekaliga will be maintained at this stage while habitat enhancement activities are conducted including the scraping of dense plant and organic material, herbicide treatments, controlled burns, and planting of native vegetation.
These management activities will enhance fish and wildlife habitat that has degraded over decades due to stabilized water levels as a result of flood control. When lakes do not maintain naturally fluctuating water levels, the buildup of nuisance aquatic vegetation and organic sediments (muck) on the lake bottom occurs.
The FWC last conducted a drawdown and habitat enhancement project on East Lake Tohopekaliga in 1990.
Habitat enhancement efforts are scheduled to be completed by June 1, 2020. After this time, the lake will begin to refill, dependent on rainfall. The FWC will continue habitat enhancement activities to maintain these areas in the future.
The boat ramp and marina area on the south shore at Lake Front Park will still be accessible for boats (launching) during this project. The Chisholm Park ramp on the east shore will be unusable from December 2019 through July 2020.
Lakefront homeowners are encouraged to remove their boats from the lake by Dec. 1 to prevent their boats from being stranded on the dry lake bottom.
For updates on this project including effects on public access or for general waterbody information, fishing forecasts, virtual tours, plant control operation schedules and annual workplans, boat ramp information, and more, visit the “What’s Happening on My Lake” website at MyFWC.com/Lake.