FWC planting native aquatic plants to help restore Lake Istokpoga

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will begin a major aquatic habitat restoration effort on Lake Istokpoga this May.

The FWC is planting more than 140,000 native aquatic plants on Lake Istokpoga, a 28,000-acre natural lake in Highlands County, to help restore this popular, shallow sportfishing lake. FWC contractors will be planting 34,000 jointed spikerush, 34,000 maidencane (commonly known as Kissimmee grass) and 34,000 duck-potato plants along the lake’s eastern, western and northern shorelines.

The FWC is also planting 9,000 biodegradable pots containing 36,000 Illinois pondweed (also known as peppergrass) plants, a submersed native species, along the south end of Bumblebee Island.

These native aquatic plants will serve as valuable food and nesting habitat for many fish and wildlife species, including the endangered Everglade snail kite, and sportfish including largemouth bass, crappie and panfish.

This aquatic habitat restoration project is designed to enhance the diversity of the native plant community in the lake’s shallow-water marshes as part of ongoing restoration and habitat enhancement activities for Lake Istokpoga.

This work is being completed following recommendations from stakeholders found in the Lake Istokpoga Habitat Management Plan, which aims to increase native submersed and emergent aquatic vegetation through revegetation efforts and reduction of invasive plant species.

For more information about this project, contact David Holmberg with the FWC’s Aquatic Habitat Conservation and Restoration Section at 863-697-6323.

For more information about the FWC’s Aquatic Habitat Conservation and Restoration projects, visit MyFWC.com/wildlifehabitats, click on “Habitats” and then open the “Aquatic Habitat Conservation and Restoration” tab.

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/Lakes.