The Flooded Forest: Reelfoot Lake State Park, Tiptonville, Tennessee

One of the iconic symbols at Reelfoot Lake in northwest Tennessee is its cypress trees. The 15,000 acre lake was created by a series of violent earthquakes in 1811-1812 that caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards for a short period of time, creating Reelfoot Lake. Tall and majestic, the cypress trees where there before the earthquakes of 1811-12. They were there when Davy Crockett roamed the area in search of wild game.

Reelfoot Lake is a flooded forest.  While Majestic Cypress trees rise above the water, below the surface are many submerged Cypress stumps. A variety of aquatic plants and flowers occupy the shoreline and saturate the shallow water. The lake harbors almost every kind of shore and wading bird as well as golden and American bald eagles.

The unfortunate reality is, these majestic trees may not be around for much longer. Reelfoot Lake is losing more habitat each year than it can generate due to Cormorants (also know as water turkeys by the local folk) ruthless nest-builders that can strip a tree’s bark in days and their acidic feces (sorry we’re talking about bird poop here, but, it’s important to understand the devastating effects it has on the ecosystem for the survival of these trees and other inhabitants in and around the lake). The damage to some of the huge cypress trees (some as old as 600 years old), on the lake is already devastating the scenic beauty of the lake.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resourse Agency are trying to have the Cormorants classified as a nuisance, like the invasion carp, and secure permits from the federal goverment to eradicate, as well and should be a great move to help save this region’s most beautiful natural resources. But it isn’t just this region. Cormorants are a hot topic from coast to coast. Let’s hope they can find a solution sooner rather than later before it’s too late.

These cypress trees are truly a beautiful sight to see and I am so glad I got a chance to see them in all their majesty while they are still around.

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