Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Management Plan
The Kissimmee Chain of Lakes is located within Osceola County, Florida, and forms the headwaters of Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades and Florida Bay. It is composed of four major lakes (Tohopekaliga, Cypress, Hatchineha and Kissimmee) totaling approximately 65,000 surface acres. The chain is internationally known for its recreational and commercial value for angling, hunting, birding, boating and more.
Historically, the Kissimmee Chain was a dynamic system of interconnected lakes and wetlands. Beginning in 1965, the United States Army Corps of Engineers installed two water control structures and ditched and diked the watershed to facilitate flood control needs, agricultural practices and urban development. Due to these activities, water level fluctuation was reduced from up to ten feet fluctuation down to three feet. This stabilization of water levels combined with nutrient inputs from increased development and agriculture within the watershed has led to degraded habitat conditions, characterized by a decrease of plant biodiversity and an increase in invasive and exotic plants. Although some of these problematic sources cannot be reversed, they can be mitigated through active management by the FWC and other state and federal agencies.
To improve the effectiveness of management on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, the FWC is committed to creating a Lake Management Plan to help guide the FWC’s future management. Using stakeholder input from diverse user groups will be paramount in the success of the management plan.