Crooked Lake - History
Prior to European settlement, the landscape of Florida was settled and used by a variety of aboriginal peoples whose culture relied mainly on hunting, fishing and subsistence agriculture. Though some land alteration occurred, only minor alteration of the landscape is thought to have taken place until the advent of European settlement beginning with the Spanish occupation of Florida in the sixteenth century. Along with more advanced agricultural practices, the Spanish and other settlers brought livestock, primarily cattle and hogs, to Florida. This began an era of broad use of the landscape for agriculture.
Rangeland cattle grazing and other agricultural practices began to be utilized in a more systematic way and occurred through much of Florida throughout most of the European settlement era from the sixteenth through the twentieth century. Use of these agricultural practices began an era of increased alteration of the natural landscape. However, it was not until the nineteenth and twentieth century that major settlement and more extensive alteration of the landscape in the area began with the widespread use of agriculture and associated development.
Prior to its purchase by the state in 2008, the 1,147-acre Crooked Lake property was owned by the Dunham family and operated as a cattle and citrus operation. The sale satisfied the family’s desire for the property’s long-term conservation. Crooked Lake WEA was established as a gopher tortoise mitigation park through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Mitigation Park Program.