After forming in 1991, FOLA’s first meeting was held in January 1992. 1992, for Lake Apopka, was relatively quiet, compared to the next fear years.
A narrative report by the St Johns River Water Management District, from the archives, gives a thorough outline of much of the restoration activity for 1992:
Completion of a nutrient budget plan, for the next two years. One interesting finding of this plan was evidence that as algae is removed from the flow-way, which I previously discussed, the remaining algae in the lake becomes further enriched in phosphorus, making subsequent algae removal even more efficient in terms of removing nutrients.
A hydrodynamic modeling plan, started in May 1992, to be completed in 1994, per the SWIM plans.
Completion of the “Icthyofaunal Restoration Project”, which found stocking of bullhead carp in Lake Apopka to be generally unsupported, due to high mortality.
Construction of barriers, installed in the lake’s littoral zone. These would hamper wave action, thus protecting shoreline vegetation. In July, planting efforts were begun, using species like giant bullrush, spatterdock, and pondweed.
What was FOLA, then, up to during 1992? One early success of the year was a successful blocking of a proposed bill by Representative Sindler. Though I haven’t located the text of the bill, a letter from FOLA President Jim Thomas to Sindler outlines FOLA’s concerns. Mainly, the bill seems to have aimed at creating a new agency to help restore the lake, and FOLA felt this would be both inefficient and detract resources from the existing plans.
Other, less glamorous activities continued during the year, like fundraising, recruitment, and seeking support from government officials.
The next year, 1993, would see FOLA assisting in a restoration project at Magnolia Park. This park is on the east side of Lake Apopka, and the shoreline there was restored using native vegetation by FOLA and volunteers. Today, Magnolia Park is also one of the trailheads to the North Shore Restoration Area, where the muck farms once were.
1994 is where things get interesting. The SJRWMD published a waste load allocation rule this year, that would set stringent requirements on the amount of nutrient discharge allowed by the farms. This rule would be made public in Fall 1994 and then open to challenge by the affected parties. The farms would challenge this ruling, but the developments on this issue I will have to save for next week.
Another interesting note from 1994: in a position paper published at the end of that year, FOLA states they do not support a farm buyout of the muck farm lands. Evidently this was being discussed. FOLA states that the economic impact would be too major, and simply buying the muck farms won’t prevent discharge from adjacent properties. FOLA would eventually come to support the farm buyouts. More on this later.