Lake Okeechobee is Florida’s largest lake, the largest lake in the Southeast United States, and the second largest lake contained entirely within the United States. The history of this inland sea is marked both by natural processes, and more recently human development and intervention. Adventurers can explore this behemoth of a waterway via the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail that enriches it, a part of the Florida National Scenic Trail. This paper synthesizes major natural and human-induced perturbations that shaped the lake and ultimately the trail that encircles it to create a narrative of Florida’s great lake. The story of Lake Okeechobee is a story of battles, first between the land and sea, then between the lake itself and humankind. For the past few centuries Lake Okeechobee’s natural perturbations in water flow and flooding resisted the control of man, until recently when man triumphed, managing to control the flow of water in and out of the lake. Unfortunately, with this new found control a new bioecological threat in the form of harmful algal blooms has emerged, which again threatens the health and livelihood of South Floridians. Currently there are new efforts that seek to restore Lake Okeechobee towards a more natural state in an effort to thwart the blooms.
Journal of Florida Studies
College of Arts and Sciences
Lecher, A. L. (2021). A brief history of Lake Okeechobee: A narrative of conflict. Journal of Florida Studies, 1(9), 1-21. http://www.journaloffloridastudies.org/files/vol0109/lecher-brief-history-lake-okeechobee.pdf