In early descriptions, Lake Lafayette was referred
to as a prairie lake, perhaps indicating that it was mostly a
shrubby wetland with widely fluctuating water levels, dependent on
rainfall, surface water flow and seepage into the aquifer (partly
via a sinkhole). Construction of earthen dikes, a railroad line and
other alterations, changed the lake's natural hydrology, dividing
it into the three separate lakes that exist today.
The WEA and its extensive swamps and marshes help
to recharge the groundwater and cleanse the surface water that
flows into the Lake Lafayette system from surrounding development.
The wetlands also provide valuable nesting habitat for wood ducks
and other waterfowl and a variety of wading birds, including the
endangered wood stork. Today, over half of the L. Kirk Edwards WEA
is comprised of cypress swamp, with some trees over a century
Mechanically harvesting tussocks
- Along with periodic herbicide applications,
machinery is used to reduce floating vegetation
on Lower Lake Lafayette.
Past human uses, including the construction of
berms, dikes and drainage channels, have altered the hydrology and
soils in the Lake Lafayette basin. Interconnected wetlands were
fragmented into the artificial basins that exist today. In
addition, nutrient-laden stormwater from surrounding development
flows into the lake, altering the habitat for aquatic plants and
L. Kirk Edwards is managed to improve the habitats for waterfowl
and wading birds. The FWC maintains approximately 80 wood duck nest
boxes on the Lake Lafayette portion of the property. The structures
provide high quality nest sites for this species, which helps to
maintain the local population. This effort is part of a statewide
research and monitoring project.
The past installation of water barriers stabilized water levels
and prevented the periodic drying out and reflooding that would
have naturally occurred. As a result, aquatic vegetation has
overgrown approximately 94% of the surface of Lower Lake Lafayette.
Floating islands of vegetation (tussocks) can clog waterways and
trap boats. FWC and the Florida Department of Environmental
Protection use periodic herbicide applications and mechanical
harvesting to reduce the extent and density of the aquatic