In Vernon Parish, Louisiana, there are two decent size man-made lakes that have been the source of a lot of confusion for me.
Vernon Lake I have thought for years was Anacoco Lake, while Anacoco Creek I thought was Vernon Lake or maybe Anacoco Lake, and Anacoco Lake… well, I realized I had no idea of its actual location for the past umpteen years. Now, through the joy of the Internet and lengthy government-created .pdf reports, I have a clear idea of which lake is which and where and why and even how. I think.
The two lakes are closely related, and by more than just geographic location, I found.
Following is some information on both lakes.
In the year 1948, the Louisiana State Legislature passed Act 277 which established the Anacoco Prairie Game and Fish Preserve, and setting aside some 5,379 acres of land for the construction of recreational waters and lands.
In 1951, Anacoco Lake was created by impoundment of the Anacoco Creek, Caney Creek, Prairie Creek, and Sandy Creek.
In 1963, Vernon Lake was created by the impounding of Anacoco Creek.
Both lakes were created for the explicit purposes of water supply and recreation.
The State of Louisiana owns the water bottom and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries manages the fish and wildlife resources. The Department of Transportation and Development have authority and maintenance over the levees and associated structures.
The watershed for Vernon Lake comprises 112 square miles (approximately 72,o00 acres) of area, and the watershed to lake ratio is 17:1. The watershed for Anacoco Lake is much greater– with a total of 209 square miles of surface area (including the 112 square mile watershed of Vernon Lake) draining into Anacoco Lake. The watershed to lake ratio is rather large at 50:1.
For both lakes, the watershed is an eastern tributary of the Sabine River basin.
Anacoco Reservoir is located 10 miles west of Leesville, in western Vernon Parish, while the dam and spillway are located two miles south of La. Hwy. 8. Vernon Lake is located five miles west of Leesville, also in western Vernon Parish. The dam and spillway are located five miles north of La. Hwy. 8.
- SURFACE SIZE: Anacoco Lake is 2,600 acres (24,000 acre feet storage with maximum capacity at 82,500 acre feet). Vernon Lake is 4,200 acres (56,700 acre feet storage with maximum capacity of 99,500 acre feet)
- DAM SIZE: Anacoco Lake has a 4,700 feet long earthen dam wtih a 12 ft. crown at elevation 206 ft mean sea level. Maximum embankment height is approx. 37 ft and constructed of a homogeneous earth fill with stone rip rap shore protection. Vernon Lake has an earthen dam of 4,900 feet with a 15 ft. crown at elevation 257 ft. mean sea level. The embankment is constructed of homgenous earth fill with stone rip rap shore protection and maximum embankment height is approximately 43 feet with landslide slopes of 3:1 nad 30:1.
- POOL STAGE: 194′ mean sea level for Anacoco; 245′ mean sea level for Vernon
- DRAWDOWN: At Vernon Lake, there are two 6 ft. by 6 ft. spillway gates placed in line (one in front of the other) and under ideal conditons, the lake can be drawn down about 4 inches per day with the gates opened to maximum height. For Anacoco, there is one 6 ft. by 6 ft. spillway gate and under ideal conditions, the lake can be drawn down at a rate of about 4 inches per day with the gate opened to maximum height.
- SHORELINE: There are 49 miles of shoreline around Vernon Lake. About 40 percent of the shoreline is developed with homes and camps. There are 21 miles of shoreline around Anacoco Lake. Approximately 40 percent of the shoreline is developed with homes and camps.
- DEPTHS: The average depth of Vernon Lake is 23 feet. Maximum depth is 53 feet. Natural seasonal water fluctuation is a half foot to 2 feet. The average depth of Anacoco Lake is 9.2 feet, while the maximum depth is 35 ft. Natural seasonal water fluctuation is a half foot to 2 feet.
Vernon Lake features deep boat channels and open waters near the dam, and more shallow waters and timber on the upper end of the lake.
Near the damsite and spillway, Vernon Lake offers improved boat lanes and deep and open waters for wide stretches, giving the opportunity for water skiing and the like. Powerboaters want to avoid the upper end of the lake, where water is shallower and tree stumps abound.
Vernon Lake sees depths up to 50 feet, and most channels run between 15-22 feet. Boaters can find boat launches at the spillway off Vernon Lake Road, and smaller launches on Hickory Ridge Road, Lakeview Landing, Vernon Park Road, and Bivens Landing.
There are more than 12 miles of improved, marked boat lanes on Vernon lake. There are eight boat ramps available for public use on Vernon Lake… five are publicly owned and maintained by Vernon Parish authorities while two are privately owned and require launch fees and one is privately owned and requires an annual membership for ramp privileges. There are two public fishing piers located on the east side of Vernon Lake where it is crossed by U.S. 171 and at the east fork of Anacoco Creek.
Four improved concrete boat ramps are located on Anacoco Lake– three on the west side of the lake at Spillway Park landing, Sandy Creek landing, and Methodist landing, and one on the east side, the VFW landing. There are two public fishing piers located at the VFW Park and Anacoco Spillway Park.
It is interesting to note that when Vernon Lake was created eight miles upstream from Anacoco Lake, the potential fertility of Anacoco Lake was substantially reduced, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. When several reservoirs are serially placed on a stream, the fertility in downstream reservoirs suffers as nutrients are assimilated by aquatic organisms and sediments in the upstream reservoirs. The Vernon Lake watershed covers about half of the Anacoco Lake watershed.