Lake Miccosukee restoration plan to be presented at public meeting
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Media contact: Diane Hirth, 850-410-5291 or Stan Kirkland, 850-265-3676
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will present a plan to restore fish and wildlife habitats at Lake Miccosukee and improve boater access to the lake at a public meeting in Monticello on Tuesday, June 5. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Jefferson County Court Annex, 435 W. Walnut Street. The lake is primarily in Jefferson County, with a small portion in Leon County.
FWC staff will explain the agency’s plan to enhance fish and wildlife habitats by drawing down the waters of Lake Miccosukee. The project involves:
- Exposing and drying the lake bottom to consolidate muck and decaying plants;
- Scraping 18-24 inches of muck from 25 acres of lake bottom;
- Performing prescribed burning of woody tussocks floating on the lake.
The Lake Miccosukee Management Plan, adopted in 1989 by the FWC and other state and local agencies, recommended drying out the lake bottom and restoring fish and wildlife habitats every five to seven years. However, it has been almost 12 years since the last drawdown.
“The FWC will mimic what would occur naturally during dry or drought years at Lake Miccosukee,” said Charles Mesing, lead coordinator of the project, who works for the FWC on aquatic habitat conservation and restoration. “We will assist Mother Nature by draining the lake, drying out and consolidating muck, and removing the decaying plants that have accumulated on the bottom, which can reduce the water’s oxygen level.”
“Lake Miccosukee is one of several ‘disappearing lakes’ with sinkholes in north Florida that historically become quite dry during droughts,” explained Mesing. “Currently, we are experiencing a drought in the Panhandle, and Lake Miccosukee is down 3 to 4 feet. However, an earthen dam built in the 1950s and other manmade structures artificially maintain the lake’s water level to provide fishing, hunting and boating opportunities.”
The lake-restoration project is scheduled to begin in June and be completed by March 2013, when the FWC will begin refilling the lake. The project is being done in coordination with the Florida Forest Service and other local, state and federal agencies.
During the drawdown, the lake should remain open to fishing at the north section near Reeves Fish Camp.