It is with great sadness that we share that Central Florida lost an Environmental Lion on September 19, 2021.
Jim Thomas, a respected biologist, spent the last 30 years of his life actively advocating for the restoration of Florida’s 4th largest lake, Lake Apopka. In 1991, he founded Friends of Lake Apopka (FOLA) during a time when the lake was the most polluted lake in Florida. Jim convinced the Florida State Legislature to spend $100M to purchase the muck farms on Lake Apopka’s north shore, ending 50 years of heavy nutrient flow into the lake.
In 1999, Jim helped create Oakland Nature Preserve, a 128-acre educational preserve on the south shore of Lake Apopka, whose Environmental Education Center bears his name.
Because of Jim’s courage and determination, Lake Apopka’s water quality has dramatically improved. Birders flock to the restored wetlands of the north shore, hundreds of thousands of visitors enjoy the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, cyclists travel to ride our lakeside trails, and anglers are discovering rejuvenated bass fishing.
Jim Thomas’ efforts and legacy will live for many generations to come.