Courtesy photo The University of Florida Lakewatch volunteers were recognized with a picnic held at Windy Point Park on Lake Istokpoga on Nov. 4.
published: Friday, November 16, 2012
Lakewatch volunteers honored
Special to the News-Sun
LAKE PLACID -- The University of Florida Lakewatch volunteers were recognized with a picnic held at Windy Point Park on Lake Istokpoga on Nov. 4.
Lakewatch coordinators recognized local volunteers for their role in protecting water bodies in Highlands County. Some of the volunteers have been sampling local lakes for up to 20 years. Also on hand were representatives from Highlands County Lakes Association, Highlands Soil and Water District, Highlands County County Board of Commission, Highlands County Natural Resources, city of Lake Placid and the UF IFAS Extension Office in Highlands County.
"There are close to 60 Lakewatch volunteers in Highlands County sampling approximately 40 water bodies," said Mike Jensen, county extension director. "Fourteen new volunteers received the training this last year.
"Each monthly sample from Highlands County water bodies provides important information about local lakes and canals that is used to monitor the lakes and help make more informed decisions on future management. Also, for each sample taken, the volunteers save the county more than $60.
"Considering that each volunteer commits to take monthly samples (three samples per lake for 12 months and approximately 40 lakes in the program) this saves the county from investing approximately $86,400 in water sampling costs."
Jensen said that Lakewatch is a University of Florida project that is offered in Highlands County as part of the partnership between the Highlands County Board of Commission and the University of Florida IFAS Extension.
"We could not accomplish this important work without the dedicated Lakewatch volunteers," Jensen said.
For more than 25 years, Lakewatch has put much of its energy into recruiting and training volunteers and facilitating the collection of data on hundreds of Florida water bodies.
Lakewatch data can be used to establish a baseline -- long-term record -- that provides a basis for comparison with future data. In nature, change is the rule. Water bodies will change naturally over the course of its lifetime. It may even change with the seasons or in response to natural environmental conditions. Only by knowing what changes have been normal in the past can you determine those that are abnormal and possible cause for concern.
To volunteer as a Lakewatch volunteer, contact the UF IFAS Extension office in Highlands County at 402-6540.
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