Downtown Okeechobee is located on the north shore of Lake Okeechobee. The Seminole Indians called Lake Okeechobee “Big Water”, an appropriate name for a water body whose opposite shore can’t be seen from the water’s edge. Lake Okeechobee encompasses a surface area of over 730 square miles. It is the largest lake in the southeastern United States and an important water shed for south Florida.
Lake Okeechobee is a host to many varieties of fish, wading birds and other wildlife. The lake also supplies essential water for people, farms and the environment.
Over the past few decades the lake’s health has been threatened by mans activities, ditching the Kissimmee rive, diking creating excessive nutrients from agricultural and urban activities in the lake’s watershed. Also, by high and low water levels which are harmful to the lake health and by the spread of exotic vegetation.
The Florida Legislature in 2000, and expanded in 2007, enacted the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act and the subsequent Lake Okeechobee Protection Program to restore the lake and its watershed. Even so, much more will be needed.