L. Kirk Edwards - Natural Communities

photo Lake Lafayette

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 old.


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photo of mechanically harvesting tussocks
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 animals.

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 vegetation.

FWC Facts:
Agility, speed, power. These are fitting words describing the flight of the peregrine falcon, the world's fastest bird.

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