tourism & conservation partner to save lake ecosystem

 
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Posted: May 04, 2011 10:21 PM
Updated: May 05, 2011 12:31 AM
By Katie Johnson

Collier County, south-west Florida, USA

You’ve heard of people planting trees to help the environment, but what about planting something underwater? That’s what crews in Collier did to help out a lake that has seen its share of problems.

Growing close to the shores of Lake Trafford is the bulrush – a plant that is commonly called home by fish and other wildlife.

But the plant didn’t just grow there on its own.

It’s a tedious job done in about two feet of water – and right beside some scary neighbors.

“Sometimes I’m scared because there are alligators around,” said one of the men planting the bulrush Wednesday.

But the new additions are vital to the lake, which right now only has about a quarter-acre worth of bulrush in it.

Crews installed about 25,000 bulrush plants into Lake Trafford, creating an even larger habitat for fish to live and breed. That makes it an ideal spot for fishermen.

Lake Trafford airboat

Airboat on one of the approach creeks to Lake Trafford

Don “Bubba” Blalock has been guiding airboat tours through the lake for years. He says Lake Trafford’s been through a lot in that time – after getting taken over by an exotic plant species.

That ended up choking and killing many fish.

But with three acres of fresh new bulrush, there won’t be a lack of oxygen in there.

“It’s going to create a tremendous fishing habitat out there – a place for the fish to hide and the bait,” said Blalock.

And more fish means more food for the neighboring gators, which are the main attraction on the airboat rides.

So by helping out Mother Nature, the bulrush will also help the nearby businesses which heavily rely on Lake Trafford to make ends meet.

“We’re not going to be swimming here but it’s going to be a good lake,” Blalock said.