Lake Juniper in Jeopardy

By: Mike Tolbert
By: Mike Tolbert

Since Jerry Davidson moved to Walton County early this year, he has fallen in love with Juniper Lake.

"It's a great bass fishing lake with other species. We'd like to keep it that way," he says.

But that's become more and more difficult as weeds and muck threaten to make the lake unusable. Experts typically have to "draw-down" manmade lakes every five to seven years. Workers lower the water level several feet, then clean the muck off the bottom. The operation usually takes six months for the lake to return to normal.

The last time officials "drew-down" Juniper Lake was 1984 and it took a year and a half for the lake to return because of a drought. That angered a lot of residents.

Fred Cross with the FWCC, says, “That's why it hadn't been done in 20 years and that's why conditions are so bad in Juniper.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants to do another draw-down, but some residents want to use chemicals.

"All that does is kill the plants that are present. They fall down to the bottom, they decompose, and just add to the muck."

It’s basically a band aid and those who use the lake seem to want a fix.

Jerry Davidson says, "We have all the farmland we need, we have all the pine trees we need, but we don't have enough lakes, and this is a great one."

The FWCC says they now have the money to do it, it just depends on the residents. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission plans to hold a public meeting to discuss the draw down in late September.


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