U.S. Army Corps of Engineers visits refuge
In 2008, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers developed the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule or LORS, which sets guidelines for water releases out of the lake. Because LORS is currently under review, the recent meeting we had with the Army Corps was a timely opportunity for us to make the Corps aware of how LORS impacts the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge and the changes we would like to see.
On Aug. 20, the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society hosted a luncheon as part of the Corps' daylong fact-finding trip to the area, orchestrated by the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. In addition to members of the DDWS, the luncheon guests included members of the refuge's staff, ranking members of the Corps' Jacksonville District, several representatives of the city of Sanibel, and the leadership of the SCCF.
The schedule of water releases out of Lake Okeechobee is a hot topic for several reasons. As explained in a previous guest commentary published in the March 27, 2019, edition of the Islander Reporter, a few months ago the Army Corps began a multi-year study that will result in new long-term guidelines for the operation of the lake. The new guidelines are being referred to as the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual or LOSOM (www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOSOM).