FWC plants trees at Lock 7

OKEECHOBEE — If you’ve ever wished for some relief from the hot sun at the Lock 7 recreation area, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is granting that wish.

Coordinating with Okeechobee County’s plans for improvements at Lock 7, FWC funded a project to plant trees at Lock 7 as well as in the marshes around the edge of the lake.

Brent Bechelder, FWC Biological Specialist, said the Lock 7 project includes 15 bald cypress trees, 9 pond apple trees and two live oak trees. In addition, they are planting Southern Magnolia and Dahoon Holly.

FWC contractors are also planting 35 bald cypress trees in the marshes along the shoreline.

All of the plants are native vegetation and should do well in the lake area, he said.

The contractor has guaranteed the trees for 90 days, and will water them if needed during that period. After that, the trees should be established and will take care of themselves, he said.

All of the trees are drought-tolerant and flood-tolerant, he said.

In addition to providing shade, the trees will improve the habitat for wildlife.

He said the trees will probably not change much for about a year after planting, but after that they should grow one-to-two feet a year.

Mr. Bachelder said they hope planting trees will encourage more people to enjoy the Lock 7 area. He said FWC is excited about other improvements the county plans for Lock 7, which will create a more attractive place for people to gather in view of the lake.

“This is prime habitat,” he said.

They hope all visitors will respect and protect the new trees, which in turn will protect future visitors from the Florida sun.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has funded a project to plant trees at Lock 7, to provide shade for visitors as well as area wildlife. FWC is working with Okeechobee County on improvements to the area. Photo by Katrina Elsken.

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