Left: Jim W. Veal, Sr., George L. Buhmeyer and Phyllis Hanson-Moffitt unveiled the plaque that recognizes Evan A. “Billy” Merritt, David C. Hanson and the other Lake Panasoffkee Restoration Council members. Right: Attendees set off on a lake tour following the ceremony.
District Board members and staff, as well as members of the Lake Panasoffkee Restoration Council, recently celebrated the completion of a ten-year project to restore Lake Panasoffkee. The goals of the project were to restore historic fish bedding areas and the lake shoreline as well as improve navigation.
During the May ceremony, a plaque dedicating the future public boat ramp and park at Coleman Landing to honor Evan A. “Billy“ Merritt and David C. Hanson was unveiled. Both men were serving on the Lake Panasoffkee Restoration Council when they passed away. The park and boat ramp are being developed in cooperation with Sumter County, the city of Coleman and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“The impact of the work done here will span generations to come,“ said Ronald Oakley, Governing Board vice chair. “Because of this effort, Lake Panasoffkee, a true jewel, is now healthy. It is a benefit to the people, the water resources and our environment.“
A boat tour of the lake followed the ceremony.
In 1998, the state Legislature created the Lake Panasoffkee Restoration Council to develop a restoration plan for the lake.
The project, which is the District’s largest restoration effort to date, began in December 2000 with the Coleman Landing Pilot Project and was completed in November 2008.
Approximately 8.3 million cubic yards of sediment were removed from over 1,744 acres of lake area. Since the 1940s, approximately 920 acres of open-water habitat had been lost to vegetation encroachment. Lake Panasoffkee is one of the District’s Surface Water Improvement and Management Program priority water bodies and is designated as an Outstanding Florida Water by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. It is also the third largest lake in west-central Florida.