Curious about how you can help protect Crooked Lake while enjoying all it has to offer? Check out the information below.
Aquatic Plant Management
Aquatic plants play an important role in maintaining the health of Crooked Lake and its native wildlife. UF IFAS has an excellent description of the classifications and benefits of aquatic plants at this link.
While aquatic plants are important to a healthy Crooked Lake, invasive species are substantial threat. More information about invasive aquatic plants in Florida is available at this link. Polk County Natural Resources Division conducts aquatic plant management operations to destroy invasive species when they’re observed. If you observe any non-native species in Crooked Lake, please contact Polk County Natural Resources at 863-534-7477.
If you plan to remove aquatic plants from your lakefront, a permit is required from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission. More information on Aquatic Plant Management Permits are available at this link.
New Dock Construction
There are a few important considerations when considering a new dock installation on your lakefront:
Water Level/Dock Elevation: The level of Crooked Lake can fluctuate tremendously depending on changes in rainfall. Prolonged drought from the 1960s to the 1990s led to a steady decline in lake levels and many docks being out of the water. The rains returned in the early 2000s (along with 4 hurricanes in 2004). Crooked Lake rose nearly 18 feet between 1991 and 2005, leading many docks to be submerged. Many homeowners have successfully used floating or portable docks to accomodate the changing water levels. More information on the historic water levels on Crooked Lake is available at this link.
Permitting Requirements: Construction of a dock on Crooked Lake requires an Environmental Resource Permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (more info here) and a Building Permit from the town of Hillcrest Heights. In 2019, Hillcrest Heights passed an ordinance that limits new docks to a length less than 200 feet, a total square area of 2,000 square feet, and allows a maximum of 2 boat berths (more info here).
Vegetation Impacts: Please note that if the construction of your dock will impact existing aquatic vegetation, you may need an Aquatic Plant Management Permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (more info here).
Adding Fill or Dredging Material from Crooked Lake
Adding fill material (e.g. clean sand) or removing material (i.e. dredging) from below the ordinary high water line requires a permit from either the Department of Environmental Protection or Water Management District. More info on the permit process is available at this link. Contact the regulatory staff at the Southwest Florida Water Management District for details on how to submit a permit application (contact info at this link).
A typical turf lawn requires substantial amounts of fertilizer, pesticide, and irrigation water. If turf grass is planted and maintained in close proximity to the shoreline, these chemicals can make their way into the lake through direct application or stormwater runoff. A “buffer area” of untreated vegetation between the shoreline and any fertilized areas on your property are an important tool for protecting Crooked Lake. More information on the benefits of buffer zones is available at this link.
Adopting a Florida Friendly landscape for your property will help limit the amount of chemicals and irrigation water needed in your yard. UF IFAS has some helpful resources for planning your Florida Friendly landscape at this link.