The bottom of Lake Iamonia, north of Tallahassee, is cleaner than it’s been in years, thanks to a host of volunteers, county and state personnel.
Cleaning up the lake was the idea of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Officer Charles “Bucky” Higman, a 32-year-veteran officer who lives in Tallahassee, and Katie Woodside, an FWC freshwater fisheries biologist. Higman reached out to Josh McSwain, supervisor of parks for Leon County Parks and Recreation, and about 20 FSU students wanting to take part in community service work.
The group collected more than 2,500 pounds of litter, including cans and bottles, bait cups, broken chairs and even a recliner. The litter had been left on the banks of the receding lake by anglers over the last one to two years.
Leon County provided garbage bags and transported the filled bags to the county transfer station.
At full pool, Lake Iamonia covers just over 5,700 acres. It now covers approximately 200 acres, due to below-average rainfall in the area.
Hydrologists say Iamonia and several nearby lakes are “perched” lakes. Perched lakes sit over a thin limestone shelf over the Floridan aquifer. Also called karst formations, perched lakes typically have sinkholes. During a drought, when the water table drops, the water leaves the lake through the sinkholes.
“Our hope is people will help us by taking their trash and empty containers with them,” Higman said. “This is a wonderful resource and we need everyone to help keep it clean.”
While the lake is down, the FWC is working with contractors to remove approximately 24 acres of decaying organic material down to the mineralized soil. When normal rainfall returns, fisheries biologists say that many types of fish need the clean lake bottom for spawning and feeding.