Karick Lake restoration: Lake to be restocked for fishing

Karick Lake restoration: Lake to be restocked for fishing

A picturesque country lake in a state recreation area has become a desolate pit of muck, but it's part of a project of restoring the lake's ecology.

Nowadays, Karick Lake looks similar to dried up lake beds in a Texas drought.

To understand what's being done here you have to know the history of the lake. A man-made reservoir opened in 1966 as a fish management area.

It covers 65 acres with depths ranging from seven to 18 feet, but recent monitoring of the 51-year-old lake showed most fish were the same size.

"As the habitat degrades and it loses productivity over time these reservoirs age," said biologist Neil Branson. "This gives us a chance to kick start it with a bunch of nutrients and everything like that. It provides an opportunity to balance the population and we can start off with a balanced population and manage it from there."

It took more than a month to empty the lake. The fish and turtles that lived here migrated to a creek that feeds into the Yellow River.

Once the lake bed dries out the real work begins.

"We'd like to remove some of the muck, but as you can see it's drying out and it will compact," Branson said.

When the work is complete the lake will be restored, but it will be another year after that until fishing can resume.

In the meantime, the campground and picnic areas will remain open. Once an adjoining creek and rainwater refill the lake boating and kayaking will be allowed.

It's an ambitious, but needed, restoration being undertaken in Northwest Florida by wildlife management expert.

"We have six community management projects in the region and want to go through all of them with this process," Branson said.

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