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Harris Chain of Lakes Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Management Plan

The Harris Chain of Lakes is a series of natural lakes that form the headwaters of the Ocklawaha River in Lake and Orange counties in Florida. The chain is an important resource in Florida and offers many recreational activities including fishing, hunting, boating and wildlife viewing. It is composed of 10 lakes, Apopka, Harris, Griffin, Eustis, Dora, Beauclair, Carlton, Yale, Denham and Trout, totaling over 75,000 acres of surface area.

Historically, the Harris Chain was a dynamic system of interconnected lakes and wetlands. Throughout the 20th century, the lakes within the Harris Chain suffered severe habitat degradation. Increased nutrient loading through various sources including urbanization and muck farming operations have resulted in increased nutrients and degraded water quality. Water control structures were installed in the Apopka-Beauclair (A-B) canal, Haines Creek, and Moss Bluff to regulate water levels for human use and flood control. In recent years, exotic plants have been problematic with hydrilla expanding in many lakes throughout the chain. Water level stabilization along with increased nutrients have resulted in the need for active management to maintain high quality habitat and access and navigation.

To improve the effectiveness of management on the Harris Chain of Lakes, the FWC is committed to creating a Lake Management Plan to help guide the FWC’s future management. Using stakeholder input from diverse user groups will be paramount in the success of the management plan.

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