Coastal dune lakes are one of the most unique landscape features that dot the coastline along the beach of South Walton, Florida. These lakes represent a unique geographical feature that is only found in just a few parts of the world including Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand, Oregon, and here in Walton County.
|Campbell Lake at Topsail Hill Preserve is very scenic and worth the short hike.|
|The "ball of fire" in this picture is actually the sun rising over Western Lake. It was taken from the bedroom window in the motorhome.|
|A view worth getting out of bed in the morning for.|
On an ecological note, they are critical estuaries that offer nursery grounds to shell and finfish. The shallow fresh water lakes sit at the gulf’s doorstep protected only by a natural berm of fine white sand. In periods of high lake water or strong surge from the gulf, the berm is breached and an opening (or outfall) develops. Through this outfall salt water from the gulf enters the fresh water lakes, resulting in a brackish system. The lakes have both fresh and marine organisms so in one part of the lake you may catch largemouth bass and in another area redfish. Sometimes we catch both on a good day!
|The campground at Grayton Beach State Park has great views of Western Lake.|
Protection of these rare and unique lake systems is a concern and a Coastal Dune Lake Protection Zone has been established around the lakes and their tributaries. Regulations regarding building, drainage, pollution, removal of vegetation, and erosion control have been implemented. Local conservation organizations have launched education and outreach programs to engage concerned citizens. Volunteers are instrumental in such projects as water quality monitoring, removal of exotic species, and vegetative restoration.
The coastal dune lakes are tightly woven into the fabric of the coastal landscape here. For us, they provide an irreplaceable intrinsic value that makes us really love this area. Did I mention labs also like coastal dune lakes.
|"Otter" on a paddle a few years ago.|