Lake Okeechobee releases concern environmentalists

As the Army Corps of Engineers increases its discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie Estuary, some local environmentalists are hoping their latest project won't be ruined before it can even start.

Monday morning, volunteers were bagging oyster shells to be placed along the riverbank of a Palm City park later this week.

Scientist Vincent Encomio, with the Florida Oceanographic Society, says the shell serves as a base for new oysters to attach to.

He's concerned that the added fresh water from the lake might make that tough, so they need to get even more reefs planted.

"If you're trying to attract birds to a forest, you need trees so the shell we're putting in the water is like that, it's like the trees. So when conditions are better, we'll be providing more homes for oysters in the future," Encomio said.

The Corps said heavy rains over the past month increased the lake level by more than half a foot and they need to release this water into the estuary so the lake can handle additional heavy rain throughout the rest of the wet season.

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