Photo: Shockey Photography
Caddo Lake straddles the state line between northeast Texas and northwest Louisiana and covers approximately 27,000 to 30,000 acres, depending on water levels. Much of Caddo Lake is shallow, flooded cypress bottomland. Among its principal tributaries in Texas are Big Cypress, Little Cypress, and Black Cypress Bayous, Kitchens Creek and Harrison Bayou. In Louisiana, its principal tributary is James Bayou.
Along with Black Bayou, Bistineau, Cross, and Wallace lakes, Caddo was initially formed by phenomena associated with the Great Raft on the Red River around 1800. Initially, Caddo was a part of a complex of lakes that included Cross, Sodo, and Ferry Lakes. Following the 1836 removal of the Great Raft by Captain Henry Miller Shreve, Caddo became an important component of a navigation route for steamboat traffic, creating communities such as Mooringsport, Swanson’s Landing, Port Caddo, and Jefferson and connecting them to commercial traffic via the Red River and the Mississippi to the bustling port of New Orleans.
Photo: Karen Habbestad
Following the second removal of the Great Raft on the Red River, Caddo and the other raft lakes began slowly to drain and commercial navigation had all but ended by 1898. In 1912, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed a low water dam near Mooringsport. Intended to restore commercial navigation between Mooringsport and Jefferson, the dam was a boon to the booming oil industry on the Louisiana side of the lake as the raised water levels made it possible for operators to move heavy equipment into drilling sites by barge. In 1914, the first over-the-water drilling platform was erected at Caddo Lake.
Photo: Mike Leggett, Austin American Statesman
Caddo Lake is widely recognized for its complex and diverse range of plant and animal life. Approximately 216 bird, 47 mammal, and 90 reptile and amphibian species occur in the area, many of which depend on the specialized habitat provided by the wetlands of Caddo Lake. A number of animals and plants here are considered rare, threatened or endangered under national and international laws. These species include, but are not limited to, the peregrine falcon, the alligator snapping turtle, and the eastern big-eared bat. The Caddo Lake system supports bald cypress trees up to 400 years of age, as well as one of the most diverse communities of plants in Texas, if not the U.S. Caddo Lake supports as many as 86 species of fish, including at least 18 species of game fish.
Photo: Shockey Photography
Approximately 20,000 acres of Caddo Lake and its wetlands have been designated a Wetland of International Importance under the provisions of the Ramsar Convention. The Caddo Lake Ramsar site is one of only 34 sites in the United States to be so designated.
The Texas side of the lake is also home to the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge at Karnack, Caddo Lake State Park, and the Caddo Lake Wildlife Management area.
Caddo Lake Invasives Treatments & Observations Tracker
To view the web tool for Caddo Lake, click on the
The Caddo Lake Institute (CLI), a non-profit scientific and educational organization focused on protecting ecological and cultural resources of the Great Raft Lakes, has partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey National Wetlands Research Center (NWRC) to develop online tools to help inform resource managers and lake stakeholders of both past and planned treatment activities at two lakes. This knowledge will allow resource managers to increase the efficiency of future planned treatments. Additionally, analysis of historical treatment data found through the web tool may allow for resource managers to better gauge treatment effectiveness for specific techniques throughout the lakes.
In addition, to help manage the invasive species issue in the GRIP area, CLI has developed an innovative way to engage the community and leverage their intimate knowledge of the lakes using a program similar to the adopt-a-highway programs. Instead of a section of a highway, the public can “adopt” a predefined lake zone. Participants, predominately local land owners, are known as “Weed Wardens”. Weed Wardens act as an extension to the lake management team by monitoring their adopted zone and reporting “observations” to management agencies through the web tool, which they feel should be investigated by experts.
To view the web tool, click here.
To view more Caddo Lake photos, click here.