SHREVEPORT, La. - Caddo Lake is the absolute jewel of northwest Louisiana and east Texas. Laura Ashley-Overdyke oversees the actions and plans of this nature conservancy and is excited about some the initiatives of the board of commissioners.
“To know it is to love it,“ says Overdyke of the Caddo Lake Institute. The lake is a scientific ego-system of research.
The Environmental Flows Project (the Project) was initiated in 2004 by the Caddo Lake Institute and the Nature Conservancy (TNC) in partnership with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others.
The Project was started after the State Legislature made the decision that no new water rights would be granted for protection of flows in rivers, lakes and bays. Instead, the state proposed, and enacted in 2007 a law (Senate Bill 3) to provide a process for setting aside water for instream flows in Texas. That law endorsed the process that was being used by the Project.
Plus, the prehistoric paddlefish have also gotten an additional boost. The “American” paddlefish is now the only surviving paddlefish species on the planet. Historically there were six species, with the second to last remaining, the “Chinese” paddlefish declared extinct in 2020. The “American” paddlefish has inhabited Caddo Lake, as well as other rivers and bayous of the Mississippi River Basin for over 350 million years, making these beautiful fish 50 million years older than the dinosaurs and the oldest living species on our continent. Paddlefish are now rarely found in any rivers in Texas.
The paddlefish’s diet consists primarily of zooplankton. The paddlefish is a filter feeder, capturing plankton on its gill strainers as it swims with its mouth open. Where they do thrive, paddlefish can grow to seven feet, weigh 200 pounds and live for 30 years.
Plus, Caddo Lake has been a safe haven for all types of birds and waterfowl. The bald eagle are among the birds who call the lake home.
Overdyke adds “ "It takes many years of working together like the Caddo Lake Institute worked for 14 years with the Army Corps of Engineers to get more environmental flows, extra water into our system. I’ve seen some the eagles on the lake and I’m always exciting when a fisherman takes a picture and posts the picture on Facebook and we get to see that the eagles are still here."