Defenders of Crooked LakeDefending the Wild-Life of Crooked Lake

Information

This is information that will help you become a more knowledgeable person as it relates to protecting Crooked Lake.


 

Watering Schedule & Restrictions.

For information concerning the Polk County Water schedule and restrictions, click here.

For Additional Water Restriction Information 
Southwest Florida Water Management District Water Restriction website - 
District Water Restrictions
Southwest Florida Water Management District Home Page - SWFWMD website 


 

Who to call about environmental concerns and to report environmentally harmful activities.

Concern or Activity Contact(s)
Dangerous Boating / Accidents

FWCC, Division of Boating Safety
1-850-488-5600 (to report an accident) or
1-888-404-3922 (to report unsafe boating)

Algal Blooms

FWCC

Fish Kill

FWCC, Fish Kills
1-800-636-0511

General Concerns/Complaints

FDEP
1-813-632-7600

Industrial Waste/Spill

FDEP
1-800-320-0519

Injured Wildlife or Illegal Activities

FWCC, Wildlife Violations
1-888-404-3922
or via cell phone, dial *FWC or #FWC depending on service carrier

Shoreline Alterations, Wetland Impacts

FDEP
1-813-632-7600

Aquatic Plant Removal

FWCC
1-863-534-7074

Water Pollution, Residuals Landspreading

FDEP
1-813-632-7600 or via cell phone, dial #DEP

Wetlands Issues/Dredge and Fill

FDEP
1-813-632-7600

Polk County Code Enforcement 863-534-6054
Source(s): University of South Florida, Florida Center for Community Design and Research

Legend:
FWCC - Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
FDEP - Florida Department of Environmental Protection


 

NON-NATIVE INVASIVE PLANTS

There are thousands of species of plants in the United States, with more than 4,000 known to be in Florida. Most plants in Florida's wild areas are native terrestrial plants; they live on dry land. But Florida is also home to hundreds of native plants that live in damp to wet soils, and even underwater.
You can help by learning more about Florida’s native, non-native and invasive plants and by helping us locate and control these silent invaders.


 

Freshwater Aquatic Plants

Aquatic vegetation plays an important role in maintaining and protecting water quality, providing shoreline stabilization and ensuring balanced fish and wildlife populations. Therefore, Florida law (F.S. 369.20) requires all persons intending to control or remove aquatic vegetation from the waters of the state to obtain a permit from the Commission's Invasive Plant Management Section unless an exemption for the activity has been provided in statute or rule (Chapters 68F-20).

 

Application and laws for removing freshwater aquatic plants:

 


Spanish Moss - Any Way the Wind Blows

© Steve Morrison 8/24/2009

Late summer thunderstorms dump their liquid cargo faster than they withdraw it from the Florida landscape. The violent pelting of everything beneath is welcome rehydration after just hours of brutal summer sun. Florida’s plant life never minds a good dousing! Normally loose sand is now firmly packed. Gravity works the moisture quickly down and tomorrow will find loose dry sand once again.

One of the greatest usurpers of water from the sky is Spanish moss. It is superbly designed to slow down, channel and absorb. Post-rain Spanish moss is a wonderland of miniature sparkling dew drops balanced so precariously at the end of each strand. Any breath of air, or none at all, will cause them to disappear to the ground. Momentarily, replacement drops may magically appear, materializing out of nowhere. These droplets are the escapees, the ones that got away from Spanish moss’s highly absorbent course, fibrous skin.

Being an epiphyte, Spanish moss certainly needs water, and it is rainwater that delivers what it needs to prosper. The branch it grows on is mostly a prop; rainwater is the provider of nourishment. But just as certainly, nothing can live on water alone. Being an efficient absorber has multiple rewards. Dilute tree sugars and minute pollen and dust particles wash off the tree’s leaves, lightning fixes nitrogen into rainwater; moss thrives. Slowly, but it thrives. And only in living trees, so the tree is not only a prop.

Perhaps Spanish moss’s most endearing, but often overlooked feature, is its beauty of design. To find it, one would better be a spider or a tree frog. From our more distant perspective taking in the entirety of a clump of moss, is to see a jumble of strands in bulk. Yes some of us admire its graceful Southern-style ambiance, but to discover the sophisticated, graceful design of Spanish moss, you must isolate a lone strand. Follow its delicately swooping cantilevers and its balance. It is a linear maze; it is Chinese calligraphy. It is reindeer antlers. It is a Candler mobile. A lone strand of Spanish moss is a spectacle of natural design. And like fingerprints and snowflakes, each one  is unique.

If you think Spanish moss is grey, you are just not close enough. Purple, yellow and green abound. Its tubular flower is a miniature burgundy dipper gourd, surely also a functional design. The tiny pollinators it caters to surely have been identified by some dedicated entomologist.

The beauty of Spanish moss may be subject to debate, but its utility has long been appreciated by animals and humans. Some of the South’s bat species, lacking more protective choices, have come to choose dense clumps of moss to roost in. Squirrels use it for nesting material, as do swallow-tailed kites and other birds.  In their nest-building, birds and squirrels help disperse moss to new locations. It is also home to red bugs (chiggers), spiders, tree frogs, green anoles, flying squirrels, ants, wasps, and much more; a whole community of wildlife.

Henry Ford employed Spanish moss in his early models, as upholstery stuffing for his car seats.  Slaves used it as bedding, and it was a popular furniture stuffing for many decades. The virtually indestructible wiry inner fibers were rendered from the whole plant by boiling. Today moss is less utilized, but is still harvested for use in floral arrangements and the nursery trade. It may also occasionally be harvested for use as emergency field toilet paper, however the user must weigh the risk of a bad case of chiggers!

By far the biggest controversy surrounding Spanish moss is the opinion that it kills oaks.  Read my lips: moss does not kill trees. The problem is oaks that are full of moss sometimes up and die for no obvious reason. Circumstantial evidence often incriminates the innocent. And of course its name was a mistake. Early settlers somehow got the idea that the Spanish brought it here. Spanish moss is truly a native of the Deep South and its most defining natural feature. It gives oaks grace, pines dignity, and hickories a touch of melancholy. People relish it or revile it, but Spanish moss is one of the South’s great natural wonders.


Be Water Wise - Ways to Save on Water

With 1,350 miles of coastline, the 700 mile wide Lake Okeechobee and 10 million acres of wetlands including the Everglades, Florida is known for its abundance of water. Yet, even with an average of 54 inches of rainfall a year, the sunshine state is still suffering from a severe drought that is only expected to worsen in 2008.

Add to this the 175 gallons of water the average Floridian uses each day -- about 65 more gallons per day than the average American.

It's time we all do our part to protect our most important natural resource. Here's how you and your family can make a real difference in just a few simple steps.

  Water Savings at home per person
Activity Week Month Year
Installing a dual flushing toilet 21 gallons 90 gallons 1,095 gallons
Only run a full washing machine 44 gallons 189 gallons 2,294 gallons
Install a low flow showerhead & shorten showers by 2 minutes 46 gallons 195 gallons 2,373 gallons
Turning off the tap when hand washing dishes 125 gallons 535 gallons 6,518 gallons
Reduce landscape watering by 20 minutes a week when you keep grass long and water during early morning hours 200 gallons 857 gallons 10,428 gallons


Help Protect Florida's Native Duck Population

The release of feral Mallard Ducks in areas where they are not native (ie Crooked Lake) sometimes creates problems through interbreeding with indigenous waterfowl. These non-migratory Mallards interbreed with indigenous wild ducks from local populations of closely related species through genetic pollution by producing fertile offspring.

Complete hybridization of various species of wild ducks gene pools could result in the extinction of many indigenous waterfowl. The wild Mallard itself is the ancestor of most domestic ducks and its naturally evolved wild gene pool gets genetically polluted in turn by the domesticated and feral populations
.

Captive-reared mallards are being unlawfully released by humans in large numbers in Florida. It is estimated that more than 12,000 mallards are purchased statewide from feed-and-seed stores and potentially are released each year. These domesticated mallards are being purchased by well-intentioned individuals and are being released on local ponds, lakes and canals for aesthetic reasons.

Currently, these domesticated mallards can be found year-round throughout Florida on water bodies at city and county parks; apartment and condominium complexes; and in other urban and suburban areas. They are not part of Florida's native wildlife and like other exotic species, are causing problems.

State biologists are observing more and more mixed flocks and mixed pairs in the wild and these feral mallards are mating with mottled ducks, producing a hybrid offspring. These hybrid offspring are fertile, which further compounds the problem. Every mallard released in Florida can potentially contribute to the hybridization problem and the result is that fewer and fewer pure-bred Florida mottled ducks are left each year. An estimated 7 to 12 percent of mottled ducks are already exhibiting genetic evidence of hybridization and biologists list this hybridization as the biggest immediate threat to the conservation of Florida's mottled duck.


On Crooked Lake we have seen Mallards and Muscovy ducks interbreeding with the native Florida Duck with a potential extinction of many other native species. Please be careful when feeding Mallard's or releasing domestic ducks into Crooked Lake. It will upset the natural balance of our lake.
Click for more information on the Florida Mallard Control Program.

Florida's Waterfowl Web Site, created and maintained by the Waterfowl Management Program (WMP) of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Here you can learn about Florida's wetlands, resident waterfowl species, and migratory waterfowl that spend only a portion of the year in Florida's vast wetlands.


Help Protect Florida's Ancient Islands

Ridge Rangers are dedicated volunteers committed to conserving the Lake Wales Ridge ecosystem. People of all ages are, backgrounds and skills are working together to help wildlife managers protect habitat, manage wildlife populations, conduct important research and educate others about the rare qualities of this fragile ecosystem. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) manages the Ridge Rangers volunteer program. For more information on how to become a Ridge Ranger call (863) 699-3742.



Bok Academy Opening on Crooked Lake in Nov-2008

Edward W. Bok Academy will educate Renaissance thinkers for the digital age. Bok Academy will offer a unique educational opportunity that exemplifies and honors the life of this philanthropist, who in the 1920’s created a sanctuary: a place of beauty, serenity, and peace in Lake Wales, Florida. A comprehensive program of community service will be designed by the staff in collaboration with the students. Bok Academy intends to partner with Historic Bok Sanctuary in every aspect of curriculum design and project development. Bok Academy students will make the world a bit better for having lived in it.


Electronic Recycling

Preventing waste in the first place is usually preferable to any waste management option...including recycling. Donating used (but still operating) electronics for reuse extends the lives of valuable products and keeps them out of the waste stream for a longer period of time. Reuse, in addition to being an environmentally preferable alternative, also benefits society. By donating your used electronics, you allow schools, nonprofit organizations, and lower-income families to obtain equipment that they otherwise could not afford.

If donation for reuse or repair is not a viable option, households and businesses can send their used electronics for recycling. Recyclers recover more than 100 million pounds of materials from electronics each year. Recycling electronics helps reduce pollution that would be generated while manufacturing a new product and the need to extract valuable and limited virgin resources. It also reduces the energy used in new product manufacturing.

For more information go to eCycling.