Congressman Mark Foley led a tour of the Lake Okeechobee release damage Jan. 28 that included conservation and development of the nation's water and wetland resources. Joining Foley on the tour were Assistant U.S. Secretary of the Army John Paul Woodley, who is responsible for the supervision of the Army's Civil Works programs, along with representatives from South Florida Water Management and local officials from the surrounding counties.

Foley set up the tour last November after hurricane damage to Lake Okeechobee and the surrounding rivers overwhelmed the water release systems around the lake and led to concerns about the environmental impact future storms would have. The tour included water patrol structures-gates that are used to allow waters from the lake to flow into surrounding rivers-the St. Lucie Lock and Structure (S-80) and Ortona Lock and Structure (S-78) outside LaBelle.

"Still reeling from the direct consequences of back-to-back hurricane seasons that churned up sediments and kept water levels extremely high, Lake Okeechobee and our coastal estuaries have never been at a more critical juncture,"