K I N G S L E Y L A K E . O R G
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has establishes a special category of water bodies within the state, referred as "Outstanding Florida Waters," which are deemed worthy of special protection because of their natural attributes. "Special Waters" and OFWs include 40 of Florida's 1700 rivers, several lakes including Kingsley Lake, several estuarine areas, and the Florida Keys:
The following document established the case for Kingsley Lake to be designated an Outstanding Florida Water. It was written by Henry H. (Tip) Graham, and endorsed by the Kingsley Lake Property Owners Association, in 1989.
from the July 1989 document:
A PETITION FOR DESIGNATING KINGSLEY LAKE
AND NORTH FORK BLACK CREEK
AN OUTSTANDING FLORIDA WATER
Prepared by Henry H. Graham, Jr., July 31, 1989
For the Kingsley Lake Property Owners Association
CONTENTS: Petition Introduction Proposed Boundary Area History Geology Water Quality Recreation Wildlife Resources Plant Communities Fishery Resources Support for Petition Bibliography Exhibits
Petition for OUTSTANDING FLORIDA WATERS Designation
The Kingsley Lake Community requests that the Environmental Regulation Commission initiate rule making to amend Chapter 173.041(4)(i), FAC, to designate Kingsley Lake and the North Fork Black Creek, south of the northeast boundary of Camp Blanding, an Outstanding Florida Water. This designation is being sought in order to increase the level of water quality protection being afforded to these waters so that the current recreational, fish and wildlife values and ecological integrity of this system can be maintained. The recreational significance of Kingsley Lake has been acknowledged for near 100 years as a place for swimming, boating and fishing. The North Fork Black Creek and Kingsley Lake have ecologically significant value in that they support endangered an" threatened plant and animal communities.
These values are being threatened by increasing pressures from commercial and residential storm water runoff, septic tank leachate, and the development of wetland and shore areas. We believe the proposed rule change would provide additional protection to this Florida ecosystem of outstanding ecological and recreational significance. The environmental, social and economic benefits of designating this area as an Outstanding Florida Water outweigh the environmental, social and economic costs.
Therefore, we respectfully petition the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation and the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission to initiate rule making to designate Kingsley Lake and a section of the North Fork Black Creek as an Outstanding Florida Water.
Kingsley lake is a major recreational area in northeast Florida. During the last decade it has come under increased pressure from development and the use of the lake by boaters, campers, picnickers and homeowners.
The North Fork Black Creek has its headwaters in Kingsley Lake and is the only outflowing source from the lake. Along its banks is the only state controlled population of the endangered species, Chapman's Rhododendron. The hardwood hammocks of the North Fork Black Creek and the waters of Kingsley Lake provide a breeding and feeding habitat for additional endangered species.
Lake residents, the Florida Army National Guard and others interested in preserving this unique lake and creek have joined in submitting this petition and supporting documentation in an effort to protect its water quality. Designating Kingsley Lake and the North Fork Black Creek as a special water under the Outstanding Florida Water Act would afford additional protection and it would dramatically increase its recognition as a significant recreational and ecological area.
The materials presented with this petition are divided into sections that provide more detailed information and data on the proposed area. The section "Exhibits" contains copies of documents and reports that provide greater background information. A Bibliography and list of works cited included for further reference.
The following is a brief synopsis of each section of the supporting documentation:
The proposed boundary with special waters designation includes all of Kingsley Lake and that part of the North Fork Black Creek that flows out of Kingsley Lake in a northerly direction until it crosses the boundary of the Camp Blanding Military/Wildlife Area.
The history of "Kingsley Pond" and Black Creek date back to the 1830s when the Alachua Trail was used by Indians, explorers and settlers. The first settlement was made in 1859 with the subsequent development of three post offices, a Baptist church and cemeteries. At the turn of the century agricultural use of the land gave way to the development of summer cottages along the western shore of the lake. The eastern half of the lake was developed during World War II by the U. S. Army and later by the Florida National Guard as a military training facility. The 72,000 acre military reservation was also developed into a wildlife management area maintained by the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission.
Today the unincorporated community of Kingsley Lake has 250 homeowners, two commercially operated public beaches a volunteer fire station, a store and a church. There is also Camp Blanding which is an operating military training facility with lakeside camping, picnicking and boating facilities. In addition Camp Blanding leases space to the Girl Scouts for a primitive camp area on the lake.
Kingsley Lake was formed as a result of a sinkhole and measures nearly two miles across with a surface area of approximately 2,000 acres. It is one of the deepest lakes in Florida (85 feet) and has crystal clear water, white sandy beaches and a gently sloping sand bottom.
The North Fork Black Creek has its headwaters in Kingsley Lake and it joins the South Fork Black Creek at the town of Middleburg to form Black Creek which is a major tributary of the St. Johns River.
Kingsley Lake is classified as an oligotrophic lake due to its clear water, sandy bottom and very low production of plant and animal life. Fewer than 20% of Florida's lakes are classified as oligotrophic and Kingsley Lake is unique among them due to its size and depth.
Since 1888 Kingsley Lake has enjoyed the reputation as a significant recreational lake because of its water clarity, its sandy beaches and its large round shape. Recreational users of the lake include two public beaches that have a combined annual attendance of over 120,000 visitors. Private homeowners join Girl Scouts, campers and picnickers in using the lake during most of the year. The lake is extensively used for boating, skiing, sailing, canoeing and swimming in the summer. It is used for fishing and boating in the winter and the lake along with Black Creek helps support hunting activities in the wildlife management area.
Kingsley Lake and the North Fork Black Creek provide a habitat for these endangered or threatened species: Southern Bald Eagle, Eastern Indigo Snake, Southeastern American Kestrel, Florida Black Bear and American Alligator.
Along the North Fork Black Creek within a mile of Kingsley Lake arc the only state controlled population of the endangered plant, Chapman's Rhododendron. A colony of the threatened plant species, Bartram's Ixia. can also be found within the wildlife management area. The North Fork Black Creek also flows through a mixed hardwood hammock that has been described as unique to the region and aesthetically valuable.
Electrofish surveys conducted by the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission confirm that Kingsley Lake has the number and size of fish that are to be expected in an oligotrophic lake. Bass and bedding pan fish provide good fishing for the local residents and visiting anglers.
Support for Petition
Support for the Kingsley Lake/North Fork Black Creek Outstanding Florida Water Petition is broad based and includes lake residents, legislators, local government and the signatures of recreational users and interested parties.
The information and data found in these sections are presented as support for the contention that Kingsley Lake and the North Fork Black Creek have exceptional recreational and ecological significance within northeast Florida and the State of Florida. Designating these waters as an Outstanding Florida Water would have no significant negative impact on growth and development in the area. Furthermore, the environmental, social and economic benefits of this designation far outweigh any potential costs.
It is hoped that the information provided here will support a finding that Kingsley Lake and the North Fork Black Creek are of exceptional recreational and ecological significance and that the proposed area be designated a special water under the Outstanding Florida Waters Act.
Kingsley Lake and the North Fork Black Creek can be found in the northeast region of Florida. The area is located in western Clay County 19 miles west of Green Cove Springs and 8 miles east of Starke. Jacksonville is 28 miles to the northeast with Gainesville 30 miles to the southwest.
The proposed area of designation is surrounded by the Camp Blanding Military Reservation and Wildlife Management Area. The boundary would include all of Kingsley Lake and the North Fork Black Creek from the eastern shore of the lake to its intersection with the boundary of the military and management area.
The North Fork Black Creek is the exclusive drainage system for Kingsley Lake and it has its headwaters along the eastern shore within Camp Blanding.
Legal description of proposed boundary: All of Kingsley Lake that is included in Sections 15, 16, 21, and 22 of Township 6 south and Range 23 east. The North Fork Black Creek from the point where it flows out of Kingsley Lake and as it flows through sections 22, 23, 14, 11 and 2 of Township 6 south and Range 23 east, and continuing north through sections 35, 26, 27, 28, 29, 23, 22, 21 and 20 of Township 5 south and Range 23 east.
Kingsley Lake is part of a geological formation known as the Trail Ridge area of Florida. Much of the history of the area is connected with the fact that this northsouth sand ridge has some of the higher elevations in the state. This ridge made an attractive passageway to early settlers wishing to avoid river and swamp crossings, as water drained either east or west without crossing the ridge.
The lake is about one mile east of historic Alachua Trail which followed Trail Ridge from the Georgia line into this area and was the favorite "highway" used by Indians, explorers and settlers in their travels back and forth. Old military maps show Fort Van Courtlandt positioned near Alachua Trail about two miles southwest of "Kingsley Pond", as it was called by early surveyors. Alachua Trail was the scene of many Indian incidents during the 1830s and 1840s.
According to legend, one of these encounters occurred when a young cavalry officer, Captain Kingsley, was surrounded by Indians on a trail south of the lake and his only way of escape was to swim his horse across the lake to the west shore. The horse was said to have dropped dead from exhaustion, and the lake has been called Kingsley ever since. [editor's note: Historians tend to dispute this story.]
The first proposed cross-state ship canal, in 1829, was mapped through the lake, but was later abandoned because expensive locks would have to be constructed in order to float ships across the 250 foot elevation of Trail Ridge.
In 1886, three early settlers, engaged in citrus culture on the lake, formed a corporation called Kingsley Lake Navigation Company, with the "intention to operate and maintain in all its detail a steamboat line on Lake Kingsley" from a point on the south side to a point on the north side. It is not known whether or not this enterprise was actually placed in operation.
The Florida State Gazeteer of 1886-87 says: "The first settlement (of Kingsley) was made in 1859 by Mr. Simeon Strickland, and one other gentleman. A post office was established there in 1880 with H. W. Strong as postmaster."
There were three post offices on the lake at that time: Besides Kingsley on the north side, there was Lakeview, a small settlement on the south side, and Ionia on the west side. A Baptist church was formed in 1864 along with a cemetery and both are still in existence today.
In the 1870s, '80's and '90s early settlers were mostly small farmers and fruit growers engaged in the culture of oranges, strawberries, grapes, and naval stores products derived from native pines. At one time there was a tram road from the main line of the railroad north of Lawtey to haul lumber from the saw mills near Kingsley.
In 1895,the so called "Big Freeze" sent temperatures in this area plunging as low as eight to ten degrees, destroying citrus groves and causing the abandonment of orange groves at Kingsley and elsewhere. The disaster marked the beginning of a slow, but continuing change in the Kingsley community from an agricultural to a recreational area.
In the early 1900s, Colonel Comer L. Peek, a Starke realtor and developer, subdivided a large tract of land on the west side of the lake and sold 60 foot lots for $50 to residents of Starke for summer cottages. Roads to the lake were hardly more than sand trails at that time, but many Starke businessmen commuted the six miles daily in horse-drawn buggies to the reach the lake after a hot day in town. Their wives and children usually stayed the entire summer at the lake without coming into town at all. This type of summer residence continued for the next 20 years or more, but with the coming of paved roads and automobiles the summer colonists were joined by more and more permanent residents who built modern, weatherproof homes that would also be comfortable for year around living.
Kingsley Lake is the source of the North Fork Black Creek, and it converges with the South Fork at Middleburg to become a tributary of the St. Johns River. During the 1920s an extensive study was made of the Black Creek Basin with the intent to use Kingsley Lake as a source of water supply for Jacksonville, due to the excellence of its water quality; however, this project was never carried out (Imeson).
In 1939, the Florida National Guard bought 15,000 acres on the east side of the lake, an area not yet developed by residents. At the outbreak of World War II, the Federal government took over this 15,000 acres and bought additional surrounding land, bringing the total to 72,000 acres in 1942. The area became one of the largest Army training facilities in the country, with 80,000 to 100,000 troops utilizing the base during the war years. This infantry replacement training center was named Camp Blanding in honor of General Albert Blanding. In addition to the training facility, the U. S. Army operated a small prisoner of war camp for German prisoners.
The north side of the lake, where the old Kingsley post office had been located became a "boom town" with small businesses and entertainment spots catering to the servicemen. This atmosphere continued on that part of the lake until the end of the war, then gradually disappeared. In 1955, the full 72,000 acres were deeded to the Florida National Guard.
Many of the military training exercises since 1939 have been carried out with the use of aircraft. These fliers who saw the lake from the air named it "The Silver Dollar Lake" due to the sun's reflection on its perfect circular shape.
E. I. Dupont discovered ilmenite, titanium and various other minerals in "The Trail Ridge" in 1947, and in 1948 a lease was obtained allowing strip mining in an area southwest, west and northwest of Kingsley Lake.
Land that was strip mined by Dupont was devastated during early mining leaving only sterile sand dunes. However, in the late 1960s, reclamation of the mine areas was begun with topsoil being replaced after minerals had been removed. The Dupont mining leases expire in 2004.
In 1978, residents of Kingsley Lake organized and chartered the Kingsley Lake Property Owners Association, which now includes some 150 member families. It has established a Kingsley Lake Civic Center where meetings and social events are held. Although Kingsley Lake is not incorporated as a municipality, it has a well organized and equipped fire department. [ed's note: now based at Camp Blanding]
The west half of the lake has a fully developed community of some 250 homes with the eastern half of the lake occupied by Camp Blanding.
Today National Guardsman from all over Florida and throughout the South, use the facility for training. Military units from the Dutch Army, Scottish Highlanders and Royal Marine Commandos have used Camp Blanding. These servicemen along with many from World War II spent much of their off-duty time swimming and boating in Kingsley Lake.
Today Kingsley Lake represents a unique spirit of cooperation among seemingly divergent interests. Private property owners, commercial recreation areas, the Florida National Guard and the Wildlife Management Area all join in the enjoyment of the lake, and over the years they have united to protect this valuable resource (Mathews, Wood, Florida, Conceptual Management Plan).
Kingsley Lake has been known for over 150 years by four distinctive characteristics: Its circular shape, its gradual sloping bottom, stable water level and its excellent water quality.
The lake is almost perfectly round measuring nearly 2 miles from shore to shore, and it has a surface area of approximately 2,000 acres. It has an elevation above sea level of 176.3 feet which makes it one of the highest lakes in Florida (Keener).
Kingsley Lake has a depth of 85 feet and is possibly the deepest lake in northern Florida (Clark, 49). The depths of most of the lakes in the region range from 20 to 40 feet. The lake bottom slopes uniformly from the shoreline at about one foot per 50 feet to the depth of 20 feet, then slopes more gradually to a depth of about 30 feet, beyond which the slope increases to the maximum depth of 85 feet.
This circular and surprisingly deep lake maintains an almost constant water level which is very unusual for this region of Florida. While there are more than 50 lakes in this region that exceed 0.02 square miles in size, water levels of some of the lakes have fluctuated as much as 20 feet while Kingsley Lake has had a maximum variation of 3.5 feet since records were started in 1945. This slight fluctuation in water level has been characterized as exceptionally small for a Florida lake (Clark, 49).
There has been a lot of speculation as to why Kingsley Lake has sue} a constant water level, but the accepted explanation comes from a Florida Geological Survey authored by William E. Clark in 1964:The surface water outlet readily conveys excess flood waters from the lake to the North Fork Black Creek, which prevents extremely high lake stages. The surrounding shallow water readily replenishes the lake which prevents extremely low lake stages. The combination of replenishment and removal of excess accounts for the favorable balance between the gain and loss of water and for the exceptionally small range in stage.The final characteristic that has so fascinated visitors to the lake is the crystal clear water and the white sandy bottom. These exceptional features are a result of the excellent water quality of the lake. A more in depth discussion can be found in the following section: Water Quality.
Geological formation of Kingsley Lake
There are a number of theories as to how Kingsley lake was formed ranging from an impact crater as the result of a meteor to an opening in the Floridan aquifer; however, it is generally accepted that Kingsley Lake was formed by the more common geological phenomenon of a Florida sink hole. The lake was probably formed as a result of a sink hole because its bottom has a characteristic shape that is likely to form when sandy material slumps into a hole, and one part of the lake has an 85 foot hole. While the lake was once a sink hole, geologists feel that the bottom of the hole is now probably sealed from the Floridan aquifer.
Kingsley Lake and the North Fork Black Creek are within the topographic division of Florida known as the central highlands. The most striking topographic feature in this area is the Trail Ridge which extends from the lake region in the vicinity of Keystone Heights in southwestern Clay County northward along the Bradford-Clay County line. This ridge is a series of sand hills, the highest of which (elevation 250 feet) is just south of Kingsley Lake. From this highest point the land slopes southward and fans out into a wide area of sand hills which is dotted with lakes, in the vicinity of Keystone Heights.
North of Kingsley Lake, the Trail Ridge is narrow and generally is less than a mile wide across the crest. It slopes downward slightly to about 200 feet above sea level at the Baker County line. Some of the headwater streams of the North Fork Black Creek have channel slopes of 50 feet per mile. Beneath the surface of the area are a series of limestone and dolomite layers that go down several thousand feet.
Kingsley Lake's origin as a sink hole with its large surface area, depth and constant water level make it a unique lake within the northeast Florida region. These characteristics taken in conjunction with the outstanding water quality make it an exceptional recreation lake.
Black Creek Drainage Basin
The North Fork Black Creek is one of two major tributaries in the Black Creek Basin. The North Fork Black Creek and the South Fork Black Creek join at the town of Middleburg to form Black Creek. Black Creek then flows eastward and enters the St. Johns River about three miles north of Green Cove Springs.
The North Fork Black Creek has its headwaters on the eastern shore of Kingsley Lake. It then flows northward for about 14 miles where it turns sharply to the southeast. The larger tributaries enter from the west and north; the major tributary is Yellow Water Creek that has its headwaters in a high, swampy section of Duval County to the north (Clark, 39)
The topography of the Black Creek Basin is very hilly with the highest elevation about 250 ft. above sea level near Kingsley Lake on the western drainage divide and the lowest is less than 5 ft. above sea level at the St. Johns River.
The basin receives an average of 52 inches of rainfall per year and the average stream flow is about 342 million gallons per day through Black Creek to the St. Johns River (Clark, 39).
There are two major sources of ground water in this area, the upper aquifers and the Floridan aquifer. The upper aquifers are on top of the Floridan aquifer except in an area near Keystone Heights that is believed to be a recharge area for the Floridan aquifer. At least 45 mad of water recharge the Floridan aquifer in a 525 square mile area in the vicinity of Keystone Heights (Clark, 104).
The North Fork Black Creek which starts in Kingsley Lake is part of an important drainage basin that flows into the St. Johns River. The water quality and the direction of flow of the Creek caused it to once be considered as a source of drinking water for Jacksonville (Imeson).
"Fewer than 20% of Florida's lakes are oligotrophic and most of these lakes are characterized by clear water and they have sandy bottoms. Kingsley Lake by its size and depth is unique among Florida's oligotrophic lakes." (Canfield)
Every lake has a different physical and chemical makeup and the measurement of plant life, animal life and chemical composition are used to describe and classify each body of water. By measuring the presence of phosphorus, nitrogen and chlorophyll A each lake is classified as oligotrophic, mesotrophic or eutrophic (See Fig. 22). With a depth of 85 feet and a surface area approaching 2,000 acres, Kingsley Lake stands out among the oligotrophic lakes.
In 1981, 25 lakes in northeast Florida were classified based upon this trophic classification. Only five lakes including Kingsley Lake were identified as oligotrophic.
Good water quality is usually associated with lakes that reach the oligtrophic classification. Kingsley Lake's water quality today is substantially as good as it was in 1970, and it has not experienced serious degradation since it was surveyed in 1925.
The North Fork Black Creek and its headwaters Kingsley Lake were considered as a potential reservoir for drinking water by the City of Jacksonville in 1925. The feasibility study found the water "naturally soft and pure." The study goes on to state that "many samples of water were tested and analyzed, and the water found to be of an excellent quality" (Imeson, 25).
The next available study was conducted by Water and Air Research, Inc. of Gainesville, Florida in 1971 (See exhibit 1). The researcher. James B. Lackey, observed that the entire margin of the lake was sandy and he was impressed by the "almost utter transparency of the water". He observed algal growth in small quantities but the clarity of the water is evidenced by this statement, "It is frightening to see the enormous numbers of cans in the water to depths of 20 feet...."
A chemical analysis of the lake showed very low nutrients with nitrogen less than 0.01 ppm and ortho-phosphate measuring 0.002 ppm.
The study concludes that "the lake appears to be clean and in no present danger of becoming highly prolific" (eutrophic) and "it is certainly ideal for boating, skiing and swimming and has a high aesthetic quality."
Chemical data was collected in 1970, 1971 and 1972 by the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission. The Commission concluded that "all values concerned are on the low end of the range and this is why Kingsley is classified as oligotrophic." (Lackey)
Beginning in August of 1988, the University of Florida's Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture added Kingsley Lake to its LAKEWATCH program. Water quality tests have been conducted once a month at three different test sites from August 22, 1988 through May 9, 1989. The tests demonstrate that Kingsley Lake continues to maintain its water quality and its oligotrophic classification (See Fig. 29). Interestingly the report shows that water clarity remains good at depths of 20 feet or more.
The reports and field tests since 1925 indicate that Kingsley Lake's water quality remains good and that it is still classified as an oligotrophic lake.
Bacteriological surveys have been conducted on the water in Kingsley Lake each year since 1984 (See Fig. 30). The Clay County Health Department has established four sample sites: Kingsley Beach, Strickland's Landing, Southwest side, and Camp Blanding. The survey results show that throughout the five year period the bacteriological count measuring coliform per 100 ml did not exceed the established standard except in 1984. In that year two of the test sites exceeded the 1,000 mpn standard (1,111 mpn and 1,004 mpn) with one site at 992 mpn and the other at 927 mpn. Since 1984 no test site in any year has exceeded 495 mpn.
Today there are many outside pressures that are having an effect on the water quality of Kingsley Lake. Septic tanks are in use by the private property owners and the commercial recreational areas of the lake. Camp Blanding has been on a sewer plant since its early development. An effort has been made over the past several years to test the adequacy of the septic tanks around the lake, but there is really no way to tell from day to day what impact they may be having on the water quality.
At this time there is no direct discharge into the lake of storm water runoff or other potential. pollutants; however, there is an increasing amount of indirect pollution of the lake from fertilizers and pesticides from the yards and landscaping found along the edge of the lake. Another threat comes from the potential for development along the spring fed creeks and wetland areas on the edge of the lake.
The popularity of Kingsley Lake as a recreation area has increased the amount of boat traffic and picnickers. An alarming amount of non-degradable materials such as aluminum cans, plastics and glass have found their way into the lake as a result of the increased use. High speed and/or powerful motors add to the turbulence of the water and increase the likelihood of discharging oil and gasoline.
These challenges to the water quality and aesthetic value of the lake are being addressed by the Kingsley Lake Property Owners Association formed in 1978 and more recently by the LAKEWATCH project of the University of Florida's Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Water quality samples are taken monthly by members of LAKEWATCH and the findings are reported back to the property owners association. The Clay County Health Department conducts an annual bacteriological survey at four sites on the lake and the results are also forwarded to the property owners association.
These monitoring efforts are directed toward helping to maintain the water quality of Kingsley Lake and its classification as an oligotrophic lake. Oligotrophic lakes are significant because of their generally high level. of water quality and their characteristic of clear water and white sandy bottoms. Kingsley Lake's 2,000 acre size and depth (up to 85 feet) make it unique as a recreational lake for water sports such as swimming, boating, skiing, sailing and canoeing. With only 20% of Florida's lakes in the oligotrophic classification, it is important to provide as much protection as possible to ensure their existence.
In 1888, Kingsley Lake perhaps received its first recognition as an outstanding recreational lake. The Bradford County Telegraph reported the following comments made by the visiting assistant general passenger agent for the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad:... nor can I help to mention the attractive appearance of the country surrounding the beautiful lake at Kingsley. This glorious sheet of water, almost circular in its outline and about two miles in diameter shone and glistened in the twilight amid the green foliage of the tall pines.... I learned to love the place and its people so well that I shall make an earnest effort to pass a portion of my future winters in that charming vicinity....I do not believe there is another place on the American continent where so much that constitutes comfort, health and happiness can be secured with so little outlay of money (Bradford, Apr. 27, 1888). The current recreational value of Kingsley lake can best be described by a brief review of the land in use around the lake.
This commercial recreation area is the oldest existing public beach area on the lake. The public beach has extensive waterfront activities such as diving towers, water slides and decks available for sunbathing. Bathhouses, food service, boat rentals, fuel dock and a boat ramp are available to the guests. During the winter months, camp sites are available for hunters using recreational vehicles or tents. Strickland's Landing also operates a grocery, delicatessen and a gasoline facility.
Approximately 60,000 people per year visit this commercial recreation area.
New Kingsley Beach
Approximately 58,000 guests visit Kingsley Beach each year for "boating, picnics, cruises, swimming, water skiing and banquet reservations." This area also has extensive waterfront activities and development including a boat ramp, water slides diving boards, docks for sunbathing and concession facilities. Kingsley Beach notes that they are fortunate to serve customers from not only the North Florida area but from all over the United States and several foreign countries.
These two commercial recreation areas are open to the general public and serve nearly 120,000 visitors annually. The Clay County Chamber of Commerce in its 1988 guidebook includes this statement on the area, "Kingsley Beach and Strickland's Landing in the western portion of the county and are both located on Kingsley Lake offer recreational opportunities for the whole family." Both areas have been providing recreational opportunities on Kingsley Lake since World War II (Clay County Chamber of Commerce Guidebook).
Private Home Development
Some of the private homes along the western shore of Kingsley Lake date back to the early 1900s. Lots were sold for summer cottages and the recreational quality of the lake was noted in this 1902 article in the Bradford County Telegraph:Citizens of Starke have awakened to the fact that within five miles ... Kingsley Lake offers the loveliest, coolest, and most restful, health renewing summer resort in the world. With water clear as crystal, having clean sloping sand beach, fed by inexhaustible mineral springs under the surface of the lake, always cool and refreshing, men, women and children simply shout for joy as they plunge and swim and sport in the clear, silvery waves" (Bradford, June 6, 1902).Today there is virtually no undeveloped property available along the residential or western side of Kingsley Lake. Year-round homes and summer cottages ring the west and north sides of the lake and comprise nearly 40% of the available land on the lake. Homes have recently been sold for purchase prices in excess of $200,000 and others have been offered for sale at figures in excess of that figure.
While all of the lake front homes were at one time summer cottages, many of them today are permanent year around residences. Summer residents of the lake are generally from Jacksonville, Starke and Gainesville; however, some residents come from as far away as Tallahassee, Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta, Memphis, Connecticut and California. There are approximately 165 homes on Kingsley Lake.
The Gateway Girl Scout Council headquartered in Jacksonville has a use agreement with the Florida Army National Guard to use 90 acres on the west side of the lake with approximately 60 feet of cleared beach. The area is operated as a primitive camp site with the only improvements consisting of a manual water pump, an outdoor privy, and two picnic tables.
Merline J. Harbin, Assistant Executive Director, describes Neyati's use:This site is used by Girl Scout troops for overnight and weekend camping, by Girl Scout troop leaders for primitive camp training, and Boy Scout troops for weekend camping. The council also gives backpack training and basic canoe training to girls and adults at Camp Neyati, and during the summer it is used as a daycamp site where girls are bussed in daily for week long program in the out of doors.Camp Blanding
The white sand, sparkling clear water and gently sloping lake bottom (with no sudden drop offs!) make this a unique swimming lake in our part of Florida. (So many of the other lakes are full of silt, the water is dark from cypress trees, the bottom near the shoreline is filled with holes and dropoffs and the water level fluctuates widely season to season and year to year) Kingsley Lake is an ideal lake for swimming and canoeinge, specially for children.
Camp Neyati is bounded on one side by private property and on the other by the Camp Blanding camping and picnic area.
The Florida Army National Guard utilizes the east and southeast portion of Kingsley Lake for recreational activities. The Officers and Enlisted Mens Clubs are both located on the lake. These separate facilities provide swimming, picnicking, outdoor sports, water sports as well as the traditional eating facilities and dance floors. These clubs are used throughout the year by visiting servicemen.
There are six picnic areas with picnic tables, grills, swimming areas and docks. In 1988 7,575 servicemen and their families used the picnic sites.
On the southeast side of the lake there is a primitive camp area with four shower/restrooms and 100 camp sites. There is an additional recreational vehicle area that provides full hookups at 14 sites. Annual passes were issued for 5,160 visitors with other campers totaling 3,864. Over 9,000 campers use these facilities each year.
In addition to the camping and picnic facilities the National Guard provides eight duplex cottages and twenty mobile homes for use along the eastern shore of the lake.
Boating activities are supported by a well equipped boat ramp and dock that launches approximately 2,000 boats per year.
In summary, the Florida Army National Guard operates a major, recreation area on Kingsley Lake for servicemen and their families throughout the year (See exhibit 7).
Docks and Boat Ramps
There are approximately 173 waterfront structures surrounding Kingsley Lake. Private homes account for 162 of these docks with the balance being used by Camp Blanding, Strickland's Landing and Kingsley Beach. Currently there are three boat ramps on the lake: Strickland Landing, Kingsley Beach and Camp Blanding. Camp Blanding has under consideration an additional boat ramp on the south side of the lake.
While there are no hunting activities along the edge of the lake, the Camp Blanding Wildlife Management Area conducts hunting seasons in designated sections on all sides of Kingsley Lake. The Camp Blanding Wildlife Management Area is one of the largest and most frequently used hunting areas in northeast Florida. Over 24,000 hunter visits are recorded each year for activities including contonment area youth hunts, archery, muzzle loading gun, general gun and spring turkey hunts.
The hunting seasons and the management of the wildlife area is the responsibility of a full time resident biologist from the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission. Camp Blanding also has a resident forester who manages the commercial timber operation that sells and replants pine forests to help offset the expense of the military reservation (See Exhibit 8).
The activities described above make Kingsley Lake a major year around recreation area in northeast Florida. The lake provides recreational opportunities for residents of Jacksonville, Gainesville, Orange Park, Lake City, Starke and many other communities in northeast Florida and southeast Georgia.
James B. Lackey in his Report on the Condition of Kingsley Lake described it as "... ideal for boating skiing and swimming and (it) has a high aesthetic quality".
SUMMARY OF GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION
OF KINGSLEY LAKE RESIDENTS*
Kingsley Lake year-round homes 75
Jacksonville, Florida vacation homes 29
Starke, Florida 20
Gainesville, Florida 17
Atlanta, Georgia 6
Macclenny, Florida 5
Lake City, Florida 4
Tallahassee, Florida 3
Orange Park, Florida 2
Oak Hill, Florida
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Green Cove Springs, Florida
South Glastonbury, Connecticut
*Statistics taken from Kingsley Lake Property Owners
list. Not all residents belong to the Association.
The wildlife resources associated with Kingsley Lake and the North Fork Black Creek are part of the larger Camp Blanding Wildlife Management area. The recreational significance of the wildlife area is covered under Recreation. This section will describe the wildlife resources of the proposed Outstanding Florida Water area and the surrounding uplands (See Fig. 51).
There are five endangered or threatened species that are associated with Kingsley Lake and the North Fork Black Creek: Southern Bald Eagle, Eastern Indigo Snake, Southeastern American Kestrel, Florida Black Bear, and American Alligator (Garrison).
Biologist, Jim Garrison, describes the dependency of these species on the proposed area (See Exhibit 9):Florida Black Bear This mammal appears on Florida's threatened species list. The Black Bear heavily utilizes the Black Creek drainage system.Kingsley Lake and the North Fork Black Creek are an integral part of the Camp Blanding Wildlife Management Area. Camp Blanding's natural diversity and undeveloped areas have allowed the area to remain a desirable habitat for additional endangered and threatened species: red-cockaded woodpecker, Florida scrub jay, Florida gopher frog and the gopher tortoise.
American Alligator The alligator is listed as a threatened species on the federal list and a species of special concern on the state list. The Black Creek system is heavily utilized by the American Alligator though it is not often found in Kingsley Lake.
Southern Bald Eagle This bird of prey is on the Federal Endangered Species list and is included as threatened on the Florida list. There is no known nesting activity within the proposed boundary; however, Kingsley Lake is used for foraging.
Eastern Indigo Snake The Indigo Snake appears as a threatened species on both the federal and state list and may be associated with the Black Creek system.
Southeastern American Kestrel The state threatened species list includes the Kestrel. It occasionally uses the Black Creek system but prefers the open fields and clear cut areas maintained within the wildlife management area.
In addition to these protected species the surrounding area provides a rich and diverse habitat for native Florida birds, reptiles and mammals.
The residents of Kingsley Lake enjoy a unique wildlife experience. In the morning you are awakened to the jackhammer-like pecking of the pileated woodpecker and the intermittent chatter of the belted kingfisher as he flies from tree to tree along the beach marking his territory. The white sandy beaches are covered with the clear tracks of raccoons, egrets, herons and ducks. In the afternoon ospreys are frequently sited as they swoop down into the lake to snatch a fish. More infrequently southern bald eagles can be seen foraging in the western and southern areas of the lake.
One of the reasons that Kingsley Lake is so significant is that this wildlife experience can be enjoyed along with the popular recreational activities. This unique balance of seemingly incompatible uses could be greatly enhanced by declaring the area an Outstanding Florida Water.Common Resident Species:acadian flycatcher
brown water snake
common yellow throat
eastern coral snake
eastern cottontail rabbit
eastern diamondback rattlesnake
eastern garter snake
eastern glass lizard
eastern hognose snake
eastern indigo snake
Florida black bear
Florida box turtle
Florida green snake
Florida snapping turtle
Florida softshell turtle
great blue heron
great crested flycatcher
great horned owl
green tree frog
little blue heron
pie billed grebe
pine gopher snake
red eyed vireo
red shouldered hawk
red winged blackbird
ruby throated hummingbird
southeastern five-lined skink
southeastern pocket gopher
southern bald eagle
southern black racer
southern fence lizard
southern flying squirrel
southern leopard frog
yellow bellied cooter
yellow bellied sapsucker
(Florida, A Conceptual Management Plan)
There are plant communities within the proposed boundary and the surrounding area that are ecologically significant (See Fig. 53).
Along the North Fork Black Creek the population of the endangered species Chapman's Rhododendron, Rhododendron Chapmanii, is protected by the wildlife management team at Camp Blanding (See Fig. 54). This species is a Florida endemic and it only occurs in three populations, two along the Appalachicola River and a small disjunct population along the North Fork Black Creek within one mile of its headwaters at Kingsley Lake.
Approximately 20 plants are located in an isolated one-tenth acre and this area has been excluded from any military exercises and development. In fact, the exact location of this rhododendron is protected in order to keep visits to the area at a minimum (Garrison).
Chapman's Rhododendron is found only in Florida and this community along the North Fork Black Creek is ecologically significant in that it is the only population of this endangered plant to grow in a state controlled wildlife management area. It may well be that this group of plants will be the only surviving population due to its location within a protected area (Pritchard, vol. 5).
There is also a population of the threatened species Bartram's Ixia, Sphenospigma Coelestinum, that is found along the eastern border of Camp Blanding and alongside State Road 21 (See Fig. 56). This colony of Bartram's Ixia may be associated with the South Fork Black Creek (Garrison).
This beautiful flowering plant is found only in a small area of northeastern Florida with the largest populations in Clay and Bradford Counties. It was discovered in 1766 by the pioneer naturalist and botanical explorer, William Bartram, who upon discovering the flowering plant exclaimed, "What a beautiful display of vegetation is here before me...seemingly unlimited in extent and variety...behold the azure fields of Cerulean Ixea!" (Pritchard, 5:111)
Ironically the plant was not identified again until 1931 by J. K. Small of the University of Florida who rediscovered the long lost Bartram plant while on a field trip.
The area that surrounds the North Fork Black Creek as it flows out of Kingsley Lake has ecological significance. Wildlife biologist, Jim Garrison, describes the area as "unique to the region, relatively unaltered and aesthetically valuable." (Florida, Conceptual Management Plan)
It is a mixed hardwood hammock that surrounds the Black Creek drainage basin, and is characterized by live oak and laurel oak, with wild cherry wood, sweetgum and a variety of other hardwoods. A portion of this area contains interspersed Loblolly Pines in excess of 100 years of age. The understory has various diverse species common to hardwood hammocks such as saw palmetto and blueberry.
Military activity in the North Fork Black Creek area is restricted to tactical exercises that are compatible with protecting the hardwood hammock.
The balance of the plant communities within the wildlife management area consist of turkey oak sand hills, lowland pine and hardwood ravines, mature long leaf flatwoods and cypress heads (see fig. 57, 58).
This unique plant community consisting of endangered Chapman's Rhododendron, aesthetically valuable hardwood hammocks, and the surrounding diverse plant communities is significant to the northeast Florida region and is in need of the additional protection afforded by Outstanding Florida Water status.
A part of Kingsley Lake's recreational significance comes from its popularity as a lake for catching bass and bedding panfish. While fishing activity occurs year around, it is more frequent during the fall, winter and early spring when there is less competition with boaters, skiers and other summertime activities.
Because Kingsley Lake is an oligotrophic lake, with its clear water and sandy bottom, it has a lower level of microscopic plants and animals which determine the number of fish that can grow there. These smaller organisms provide the base of a food chain and the lower number of these organisms in Kingsley Lake produce fewer fish than in the more popular fishing lakes in the region which are classified as mesotrophic and eutrophic (Florida, Report on Fish).
The Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission has conducted a number of surveys on the fishing population of the lake. Electrofish sampling shows low numbers and weights of fish taken from the lake and this is compatible with Kingsley's classification as an oligotrophic lake.
The survey goes on to conclude "Kingsley Lake has no major pollutant concerns from man. It is a lake that is naturally low in fertility also characterized by its clear water and sandy bottom. It produces the amounts of fish that are indicative to its chemical and physical makeup" (Adams).
While fishing is not the most significant aspect of Kingsley Lake it does add to its uniqueness within the region in that it offers good fishing for the residents of the lake who know how to fish it and visiting anglers who come for the thrill of trophy size bass and the excitement of catching bedding panfish in the spring.
BIBLIOGRAPHY and WORKS CITEDAdams, Steve, Fishery Biologist. Report on Condition of Fish in Kingsley Lake. Div. of Fisheries, NE region, Fla. Game and Fresh Water Commission. Lake City, Fla., June, 1989.
Bray, R. E., Director, Environmental Health, Clay County Health Dept., Green Cove Springs, Fla. Letter. July 25, 1989.
Canfield, Daniel E., Jr., Assoc. Prof. Dept. Fisheries and Aquaculture, U of Florida, Gainesville. Letter. June 19, 1989.
Clark, William E., Rufus H. Musgrove, Clarence G. Menke, Joseph W. Cagle, Jr. Water Resources of Alachua, Bradford, Clay and Union Counties, Florida. Rpt. 35. Tallahassee: Fla. Geologic Survey, 1964.
Clay Co. Chamber of Commerce. Chamber of Commerce Guidebook. Orange Park: Maikinkoff, 1988.
Fisher, Sandy, Project Dir., Florida LAKEWATCH, Dept. of Fisheries and Aquaculture. U of Fla. Gainesville. Personal interview. June 10, 1989.
Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Bureau of Wildlife Land Management, Div. of Wildlife. A Conceptual Management Plan for the Camp Blanding Wildlife Management Area. Clay County, Jan. 1985.
Garrison, Jim, Wildlife Biologist. Wildlife Management Activities and 198687 Season Results on Camp Blanding Wildlife Management Area. Bureau of Land Management, Div. of Wildlife, Fla. Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. Camp Blanding, Fla., July 22, 1987.
Imeson, C. V. Report on the Black Creek Municipal Water Supply Project for the City of Jacksonville. City Water Department. Jacksonville: n.p., Feb. 25, 1925.
Kenner, W. E. Maps Showing Depths of Selected Lakes In Florida. Tallahassee: Florida Geologic Survey, 1964.
Lackey, James B. Report on the Condition of Kingsley Lake. Gainesville: Water and Air Research, Inc., Dec. 3, 1970.
Laughlen, Sean. "A Data Base on Florida Lakes Being Compiled." Gainesville Sun. 1 Aug 1988: Sec. B.
Marcus, Robert B, Edward A. Fernald. Florida A Geographical Approach. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt, 1975.
Mathews, Gene, Publisher, Bradford County Telegraph, Starke, Fla. Report. April 18, 1989.
Pritchard, Peter C. H., Series Ed. Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida. Prepared by Robert K. Godfrey, Herbert W. Kale, II, Ray W. McDiarmid, Daniel B. Ward, Lovett E. Williams, Jr.) 5 vols. Gainesville: U of Florida P,
Prucha, Francis P. Guide to the Military Past of the United States. Madison: The State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1964.
Raisz, Edwin, John R. Dunkie. Atlas of Florida. Gainesville: Univ. of Fla. Press, 1964
Vanderhill, Barke, G. Florida Historical Quarterly. "The Alachua Trail: A Reconstruction." 55.1 (1976).
Weeks, Wayne G., Clay County Property Appraiser. Clay County, Fla. Letter. June 2, 1989.
Wood, Clarice Thomas. "History of Kingsley Lake." Paper by Wood Thomas. Gainesville, Fla.
A CONCEPTUAL MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE CAMP BLANDING
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA [click HERE to continue]
home events FACTS photos talk people docks rentals about