Letter to the editor: Lake needs help

These two emails were sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis April 20. To date I have heard nothing. I am concerned about our lake, Lake Okeechobee, and all the communities and businesses that make our lake such a unique place.

Honorable Gov. DeSantis,
Good morning, and thank you for giving me this opportunity to address a matter that’s dear to my heart. I have been coming to Okeechobee close to 40 years and upon my retirement purchased a house about six years ago. We are watching the lake that we love die before our eyes, maybe slowly, but nonetheless it’s dying. Not only is the lake in distress but all the mom and pop businesses are suffering.

We were out Saturday and counted eight airboats spraying. I realize that it’s big business on the one hand but it’s a drop in the bucket to the small businesses that are hurting and may have to close if corrective measures are not taken. It affects bait shops, groceries, marinas, restaurants, retail, hotels, gas stations, fishing guides, churches, farmers, hair and nail salons, campgrounds, anything and anyone that depends on tourists and the lake. Some of the towns around the lake were struggling before, but this is compounding the problem.

The people that live, work, worship and play around the lake are also the voters in Florida. They are grandmas and grandpas, moms and dads, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters that contribute to the economy, as long as there are jobs. If the businesses listed above, the vegetable and fruit farmers, the sugar cane farmers and anyone that depend on “Lake O” can’t get the water, their jobs are lost. If jobs are lost they will search for work outside Florida. People don’t want a handout, they want a hand up.

What a legacy you could leave for being the governor of record that took Lake Okeechobee as a personal project to fix the issues. I realize that the aquatic plants need to be controlled but there are mechanical ways to handle it without adding more chemicals to our precious lake. People say the water in Okeechobee contains too much of this chemical and too much of that, and then the sprayers are adding more every day. Keep the water at a safe level year-round for commercial and recreational fishing. It used to be that way. I realize that during hurricane season, that may take a bit of foresight, but hurricanes don’t just manifest overnight. We have days of warning and the ability to lower the lake at will. Please give us prayerful thought to take a stand. It’s the right thing to do.

Patsy Neagle

Later the same day…
Mr. DeSantis,
After I emailed you today about Lake Okeechobee, the thought occurred to me that maybe you are not the one that’s making decisions concerning Lake O. If you are not that person, please indicate the person over you that is making those decisions. I find it hard to believe that a fellow Floridian that was elected by the people and looking forward to another term would be taking the steps to tear down what has taken years to build up. Please reply with the person or persons’ names that are making these decisions.

Patsy Neagle

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