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Johnny Morris and Bass Pro Shops Cast Lifeline to Revive Lake George

Known for its pristine waters and vibrant aquatic vegetation, Lake George has long been a haven for anglers and nature enthusiasts alike. However, recent years have seen this cherished ecosystem under threat. Enter Johnny Morris, the legendary angler and conservationist, alongside Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, who are casting a $400,000 lifeline to restore Lake George to its former glory.

A Generous Commitment to Conservation

Johnny Morris recently announced a personal donation of $200,000 to our Foundation and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). This generous contribution, combined with a matching $200,000 grant from the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, brings the total support to an impressive $400,000. This funding will fuel the transformative work needed to revive Lake George’s vital aquatic vegetation, essential for maintaining its rich biodiversity.

The Urgent Need for Restoration

The announcement came against the backdrop of the prestigious Bassmaster Elite tournament at the St. Johns River, highlighting the critical juncture at which Lake George finds itself. The lake’s aquatic vegetation, crucial for species like the Florida largemouth bass, suffered significant damage from hurricanes Matthew and Irma. In response, FWC ramped up monitoring and restoration efforts.

“We are honored and excited to be able to support this important work in one of the most iconic and celebrated fisheries for bass anywhere in the world,” Morris said. “We’re proud to stand alongside our customers in advocating for anglers and outdoor enthusiasts in supporting this important conservation project. Maintaining the health of Lake George will ensure its future for generations of anglers and everyone to enjoy.”

A Plan for Revival

With the secured funding, the project will focus on meticulously restoring submerged vegetation. This includes constructing protective enclosures around eelgrass to foster its growth and planting additional eelgrass as needed. These methods, previously piloted successfully in Lake George, are vital for maintaining the lake’s biodiversity, providing habitat for fish and wildlife, and ensuring water quality.

“Facing the daunting challenge of reviving Lake George, a lake prized by freshwater anglers, the generosity of Johnny Morris and the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, offers hope,” said foundation President & CEO Andrew Walker. “This grant isn’t just funding — it’s a commitment to our shared vision of a vibrant, biodiverse Lake George, offering a lifeline to its underwater communities and, by extension, the entire ecosystem.”

A Brighter Future for Lake George

As restoration efforts unfold this year, the revival of Lake George promises to reinvigorate local fishing and boost tourism. The project aims not only to restore the lake’s ecological balance but also to re-establish it as a beacon for anglers and nature lovers alike. Sharing this news at the Bassmaster Elite tournament underscored the shared commitment to conservation that thrives among fishing enthusiasts and highlighted the partnership’s dedication to recreational fishing in Florida.

“This marks a significant milestone in restoration efforts for Lake George,” said Tom Graef, director of FWC’s division of freshwater fisheries management. “The continued support from Johnny Morris, and the support from Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s customers through the Outdoor Fund, makes a difference in maintaining healthy Florida fisheries. By investing in eelgrass restoration, we’re not only protecting individual species but also enhancing the resilience and functionality of the lake’s entire ecosystem.”

The restoration of Lake George is more than a project; it’s a movement towards preserving Florida’s natural heritage. Whether you’re an angler, a nature enthusiast, or someone who simply cherishes our planet’s biodiversity, you can be part of this exciting journey. Stay tuned for updates as we bring Lake George back to life, one eelgrass at a time.

 

 

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