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Wed, Oct 18, 2017 05:11 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue

Bald cypress trees are ideal for wetland habitat


by Susan Maynard Yatesville Lake Resource Manager



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01/23/2008 - As the new manager of Yatesville Lake, I have much to learn about the lake and surrounding area. The lake is 2,242 acres and there are 18,516 acres of surrounding land. There are so many issues that projects face each day, including real estate, flood damage reduction, and coming to work my first few weeks I couldn't help but notice the beautiful views and the many animals including turkey, deer, and bald eagles.

I had been on the job for about three months and was sitting at my desk one day working. There was a phone call from Mr. Kent Slusher from the Kentucky Division of Forestry. He had been at the lake fishing the previous weekend and noticed several small islands in the lake. Due to the drought we had been experiencing, the lake was about three feet below its normal summer pool elevation. The islands were exposed at a time of the year when they normally aren't visible.

Mr. Slusher wanted to know if I would be interested in a donation from the Division of Forestry. He would give us 100 or more bald cypress trees if we would try and plant some of them on the islands in the lake. He believes that they would become great potential habitat for shore birds, rare species like the bald eagles, and fish would benefit from the root systems of the trees, increasing fishing opportunities. Bald cypress trees have "knees" which are root-like growths which ascend out of the water. Experts believe they are helpful in aerating the root system which is typically under water. Bald cypress trees aren't native to this area of Kentucky, however they are native to western Kentucky. And they are ideal for wetland habitat.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Kentucky Department of Natural Resources volunteered to assist with planting the trees. Harley Weaver, a biologist with Fish and Wildlife, and COE employees planted several of the trees in mud flats along areas of the shoreline. Tony Kidd, who works at the State Park Marina used a pontoon boat and planted several seedlings on islands. So, through the generosity of The Kentucky Division of Forestry, and the cooperation of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, and The Kentucky Department of Natural Resources, most of the trees will survive the winter to provide good conditions for other species for many years to come.

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