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Planting for the future at Lake Walk-in-Water

staff holding Illinois pondweed and closeup of pondweed
Media contact: Melody Kilborn, 863-648-3852 or Melody.Kilborn@MyFWC.com Release Date: 09-24-2020   All Articles Tags:

Lake Weohyakapka, more commonly known as Lake Walk-In-Water, is a popular resource near Lake Wales for crappie and bass anglers alike. Recently, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) partnered with Polk County Parks and Natural Resources on a habitat restoration project designed to establish Illinois pondweed, a type of native submerged aquatic vegetation commonly referred to as “peppergrass,” in Lake Walk-In-Water.

Another FWC habitat restoration project, a drawdown on East Lake Tohopekaliga in Osceola County, presented an opportunity for biologists to sustainably harvest pondweed for transplant into the lake. More than 5,000 mature Illinois pondweed plants were hand collected from East Lake Tohopekaliga and replanted in two locations along the northern shoreline of Lake Walk-In-Water. Biologists will continue to monitor the transplant sites and are optimistic that these mature plants will become established.

 Illinois pondweed can provide important refuge and spawning habitat for fish, improve fishing opportunities and benefit other native wildlife species while protecting the lake bottom and shoreline from the effects of storms and hurricanes.

The planting complements an earlier project conducted on the lake following the 2004 hurricane season, which severely impacted this resource and its plant communities. In the years following, the FWC successfully completed habitat restoration projects focusing primarily on an aquatic plant known as bulrush.

Once the Illinois pondweed becomes established, the lake will offer abundant emergent and submergent vegetation for fish and wildlife habitat.

For more information on additional FWC aquatic habitat and conservation efforts, visit MyFWC.com/AquaticHabitats. To learn about recent enhancements to the FWC’s Aquatic Plant Management Program, visit MyFWC.com/AquaticPlants and click on “Learn More” at the top of the page.

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.