The Walton County Board of County Commissioners has applied for permits to reroute the outfall, and create a fixed outfall, for Oyster Lake, a globally rare lake. In addition, Walton County has budgeted money for "outlet management" for Western Lake and Stallworth Lake. Letters opposing this project in particular, and future similar projects, are needed to help protect these rare lakes.
These coastal lakes, which in the U.S. occur only along the gulf coast, are characterized by the intermittent nature of their connection to the Gulf. When the water level, through rain or other inflow, reaches a certain critical height, the lake will "blow out" and release its water into the gulf. At that point, sea water may enter to create an estuary. After the lake water level subsides, the connection to the gulf will disappear until the lake is ready to discharge once more.
Given the cyclical nature of their hydrology, these lakes are known to have a high biodiversity, with species characteristic of fresh, estuarine, and the marine environment. They are also an important source of freshwater to migrating birds and other beach organisms. The worse thing that could happen to these ecological wonders would be to open up and armor their outfalls. But this is precisely what the applicant is seeking to do, in order to accommodate the wishes of adjacent property owners. And of further concern is apparent plans to do the same thing to all of the dune lakes in Walton County.
Please write to Governor Bush, The Capitol, Tallahassee, Forida, 32399-0001, and send copies of your letter to:
• DEP Secretary David Struhs, 3900 Commonwealth Blvd. MS 10, Tallahassee, FL 32399-3000
• Mr. Joel Paul, Chairman, Walton County Board of Commissioners, PO Drawer 689
DeFuniak Springs, FL 32435
• Tony McNeal, Florida Dept of Environmental Protection, Beaches & Coastal Systems
3900 Commonwealth Blvd MS 300, Tallahassee, FL 32399-3000
Points to make in your letter:
• The Oyster Lake project would destroy the unique hydrology and ecology of the lakes, which depends
on the natural opening and closing cycle. The Florida Natural Areas Inventory has classified these
lakes as "critically imperiled in Florida because of extreme rarity" and has identified drainage alteration
as a threat to these lakes.
• This project will open the door to similar projects in the other dune lakes.
• It will have a negative effect on beach vegetation and sea turtle nesting in the outfall area.
• It will cause beach erosion at the outfall site.
• It is in violation of the Walton County Comprehensive Plan, which has an element protection these lake
outfalls from this type of project.
• It is contrary to the public interest. The public will lose a very rare natural ecosystem feature.
For more info. on this issue, contact Tiana, 231-1169. MORE. . .