Friends of Lake Apopka (FOLA) has been working fastidiously to restore Lake Apopka from its pollution since the signing of the Lake Apopka Restoration Act in 1996. The groups was formed with the guidance an environmental biologist, owner of Biosphere in Winter Garden, and former president of the Friends of Wekiva named Jim Thomas and the West Orange Chamber of Commerce. It’s a much needed citizen advocacy group for Lake Apopka’s restoration.
I often get the question from home buyers that come from outside Central Florida, what that large lake in the distance is. My answer to them is that it’s the second largest lake in Florida and it’s also the most polluted with the only thing living in the waters there being mutant alligators. It’s a constant reminder of how quickly things can deteriorate if we don’t respect and nurture our environment.
I don’t believe I’ll see it cleaned up in my lifetime but organizations like FOLA are attempting to make strides in that direction. Recent residential projects such a Bella Collina, Oakland Park, Westyn Bay, and Sugarloaf Mountain have destroyed much of the natural filters that lead into the lake and will make restoration much more difficult. Who wants to live on a polluted lake anyway. When the sun is gloaming at its most majestic state, the water resembles the color and consistency of antifreeze. Yuck!
Although far from its former glory, Lake Apopka is starting to show signs of recovery. A recent report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reports that largemouth bass populations have been returning. Marty Hale of FWC recently reported catching 12 in an hour with one being this 7 pounder pictured on the FOLA site although I’m still not going fishing there. The commission says they will be stocking 600,000 bass in Lake Apopka this year.
Property values along Lake Apopka have been skyrocketing for no apparent reason and it’s hurting recovery efforts. It’s a polluted lake folks. There’s plenty of other pristine lakes to build on around here. You’ll be better off financially and probably medically. Kudos to FOLA for taking on such an important task and I’d love to check out the waters of Lake Apopka one day.
related link: Polluted Waters Become Developer’s Dollars
see photo gallery: Lake Apopka by the Orlando Sentinel