Left: District Governing Board Chair Todd Pressman speaks at the ceremony celebrating the 20-year restoration effort at Lake Maggiore. Center: Housh Ghovaee, District Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board member, releases fish into Lake Maggiore. Right: Aerial view of Lake Maggiore.
St. Petersburg’s largest lake, Lake Maggiore, was recently restocked with 100,000 fish to mark the successful completion of a 20-year restoration effort.
The restoration of the lake, a cooperative effort between the District and the City of St. Petersburg, focused on improving the lake’s water quality, shoreline habitat and recreational benefits. The restoration project removed acres of invasive aquatic plants from the lake, built five alum treatment facilities to treat stormwater from the adjoining 2,300-acre watershed, and constructed a water control structure on Salt Creek to help manage water levels and tidal surges into the lake. Lastly, the project included dredging nearly 1.3 million cubic yards of organic muck and sediment from the lake’s bottom.
“The restoration efforts have improved the lake’s water quality by increasing water clarity and reducing nutrient and chlorophyll levels,” said Manny Lopez, District senior environmental scientist. “These changes have created favorable habitat conditions for the expansion of desirable aquatic plants which, in turn, provide shelter and feeding areas for fish and wildlife.”
The restocking was held at Lake Maggiore Park in St. Petersburg in December. The program included a welcome from Mayor Rick Baker, followed by a history of the project and comments from representatives of the City of St. Petersburg and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), neighborhood leaders and other invited guests, including District Governing Board Chair Todd Pressman.
The FWC restocked the 380-acre lake with 75,000 bluegill sunfish and 25,000 redear sunfish from the Richloam fish hatchery in the Withlacoochee State Forest in Sumter County. The majority of the fish were dispersed in masses from a special tanker truck. However, some of the attendees, including Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board Member Housh Ghovaee, had the opportunity to release the first batches into Lake Maggiore by using hand dip nets.