Despite the current status of Apopka, the restoration has had considerable impacts on the surrounding area. A year ago I went on a bird watching hike through the levees and surrounding wetlands and was stunned.  I easily saw over 50 species within the first 30 minutes. According to Friends of Lake Apopka, there are now over 336 species of birds just on the north shore of Lake Apopka alone!

James Brantley

April 24, 2011

I have always considered myself a bird and nature enthusiast and after reading Sandra Steingraber and Walt Whitman, I canÕt help but visualize Lake Apopka.

Each of these authors use their distinct voice and opinion to express how they connect with nature.


WhitmanÕs expressive writing makes me think of a simpler time, when Apopka still had its biodiversity and was a healthy ecosystem. His stanza below sounds peaceful and distant from anything urban or developed, and allows for me to think of what life used to be like before pollution and habitat degradation, where nature purely existed.
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In vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky,
In vain the snake slides through the creepers and logs,

In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the woods,

In vain the razor-billÕd auk sails far north to Labrador

Steingraber focuses on the degradation and almost complete and utter removal of IllinoisÕs biodiversity. She states how 89 percent of Illinois is farmland, and within that farmland, over 54 million pounds of synthetic pesticides are applied each year. In 1993, 91 percent of Illinois rivers and streams showed pesticide contamination. In a sense, the rivers are not linear, but circular, forever flowing around and back into itself. Once it flows through the land, within the aquifers, and into wells, it finds its way into our food, our animals, and our bodies, secretly bioaccumulating. This is where I find my mind wandering towards Lake Apopka. This area too, finds itself dealing with overuse in pesticides and fertilizers compromising the landsÕ biodiversity.  
Description: PS Apopka Alligator.jpg What was once a thriving fishing community has since disappeared; fishing cabins once littered the shorelines of Apopka and now cease to exist. I was once told there were so many fish in Lake Apopka that you could use a bare hook and still have a successful day of fishing. It makes me think of the DDT crisis and the massive bird die offs, and how one pesticide had such an unbelievably detrimental impact on the area. The alligators now face problems too with reproductive toxins and sexual abnormalities due to our excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers. When looking at the lake at a distance it looks beautiful and healthy, but once you take a closer look you can see the algal blooms and how duckweed has taken over when there is adequate sunlight and nutrients.
The photographs & writing are the original creative work of James Quinn Brantley, Rollins Alumnus. See his photography web site. Description: DSC_1520.JPG

To learn more about the changes in lakeÕs ecology and biodiversity since human settlement, see Dr. SiryÕs article: