Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lake Okeechobee

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Still in Clewiston Florida. Spent the day riding around Lake Okeechobee. 9553 miles into the trip.

Lake Okeechobee or the "Big O" as it is known is the second largest freshwater lake wholly contained within the U.S., second only to Lake Michigan. It is over 700+ square miles, approximately 110 miles around, can hold over 1 trillion gallons of water and is the headwaters for the Everglades. The lake formed approximately 6000 years ago when the ocean receded. It is from 1 to 13 feet deep and is surrounded by a 20 foot dike that was built after two devastating hurricanes in 1926 and 1928, that killed thousands of people when the storm surge breached the original 6 foot muck dike constructed to prevent flooding in the agriculture areas and communities surrounding the lake.

The current dike, known as the Hubert Hoover Dike (resulting from Hoover's interest in it's construction) has survived several subsequent hurricanes. The Dike and a series of canals are used to control Lake inflows and outflows. Unfortunately, the lake has high levels of pollution resulting from agriculture run-off and recent droughts have seen dangerously low lake levels which in turn have resulted in significant loss of fish populations. The control of outflows has impacted Southern Florida and together with development has resulted in significant losses of the Everglades. The state of Florida has a plan to return agriculture land South of the lake to it's natural environment with hopes of saving the remaining Everglades.

The lake is home to thousands of birds and waterfowl as well as the American alligator. It is especially noted as a Large mouth Bass fishery and is a mecca for fisherman and boaters.

Recent droughts caused the lake to become very low and in 2007 and early 2008 the dried out lake bed started on fire, note the charred stumps in the picture above. A recent Hurricane resulted in the lake raising 4 feet from heavy rains and it is now back to a more normal level.

Much of the 100 foot wide dike has a paved road on its top and is used by hikers and bikers and is part of the Florida Trail, a 1400 mile-long trail that is a National Scenic Trail. Much of my ride today was on the trail.

With no specific route or destination in mind, I will head Southwest toward the Gulf coast before entering the Everglades on my way to Key West.


At October 20, 2008 6:15 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dick,
My name is Debbie, and I did have the great pleasure of meeting you on Sunday the 19th at Everglades Adventures Campground. I do look forward to reviewing more of your adventures, and good luck to you.
Debbie Sheller
Everglades Adventures Campground and Marina


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