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Big Cypress Bayou, Texas & Louisiana

Enhancing interconnected rivers, lakes, and wetlands

In eastern Texas the Big Cypress Bayou flows into Caddo Lake, which was named a globally significant wetland by the Ramsar Convention. Sustainable Rivers Program activities are seeking to re-introduce variability in river flows to regenerate rare cypress forests and fish habitats.

Reduced flow variability has allowed invasive species to impact much of the native ecosystems. Collaborating with many partners, the Corps and Conservancy are aiming to use periodic flood conditions and dry spells to invigorate floodplain and backwater habitats.

Project Site - Slide Show

Big Cypress Bayou - Caddo Lake

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The Caddo/Cypress Sustainable Rivers project is focused around Caddo Lake, located in North East Texas on the Texas Louisiana border, its contributing tributaries, and associated wetlands. The watershed is approximately 2,970 square miles, about a third of which is regulated by Lake o’ the Pines and other upstream reservoirs. Lake o' the Pines is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineer reservoir with the dam and associated infrastructure, as well as all the lake project lands, being federally-owned and administrated by the Fort Worth District, for the primary purpose of flood control and secondary purposes of water supply, recreation, and fish and wildlife conservation. The North East Texas Municipal Water District, which provides for regional water supply, holds a water supply agreement with USACE for 100 percent of the conservation pool or roughly 250,000 acre-feet of water supply. Flow recommendations developed through the Sustainable Rivers process have been implemented since 2012, on a voluntary basis, and guidance language is being developed for incorporation of several components of the flow recommendations in the water control manual. Long term water management and re-operation strategies currently being investigated include extension of the Lake o' the Pines seasonal pool at elevation of 230.0 ft-msl to year-round and development of a watershed feasibility study which may include consideration of control structures on Caddo Lake that would allow management of lake levels that might help reduce the proliferation of exotic aquatic species, such as giant salvinia, water hyacinth, and hydrilla, and improve bald cypress regeneration.

Planning Assistance to States funding has been supporting the Sustainable Rivers efforts since 2007, including short term adaptive management and long-term status and trends monitoring related to riparian and fish community metrics, in addition to flows workshops, incorporation for Sustainable Rivers Program findings with the state regional water planning process, local wetland enhancement efforts, and modeling and analysis to assess long term strategies.

Flexibility within the USACE Water Control Manual and cooperation of the North East Texas Municipal Water District have allowed for the adoption of a voluntary implementation plan which uses water held temporary with the first foot of the flood pool to be released as prescribed high flow pulses or more slowly at wet base flow levels while water within the conservation pool is released to meet the average and dry base flow prescriptions.

KEY PUBLICATIONS

  • Summary Report Supporting the Development of Flow Recommendations for the Stretch of Big Cypress Creek below Lake O’ The Pines Dam. Texas A&M University, 2005
  • Environmental Flow Regime and Analysis Recommendation Report. Trungale Engineering and Science, 2010
  • Application of a Framework for Monitoring, Reporting and Managing Dam Operations for Environmental Flows at Sustainable Rivers Project Sites at Lake O’ The Pines on Big Cypress Creek. Trungale Engineering and Science, 2014

KEY DATASETS

  • Fish Community Indices for Long Term Monitoring in Response to Implementation of Environmental Flow Recommendations in the Caddo Lake Watershed. Trungale Engineering and Science, 2015
  • Installation of the Big Cypress Bayou Monitoring Network: Groundwater, Soil Moisture, and Long-Term Vegetation Plots 2012-2013. Environmental Conservation Alliance, 2013
  • Final Report for Big Cypress Bayou Paddlefish Reintroduction Experiment. US Fish & Wildlife Service, 2015
  • Baseline Assessment of Physical Characteristics, Aquatic Biota, and Selected Water-Quality Properties at the Reach and Mesohabitat Scale for Three Stream Reaches in the Big Cypress Basin, Northeastern Texas, 2010-2011. Braun, Christopher L. and James B. Moring, 2013

Publications

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TitleSiteDate
Big Cypress - Floodplain inundation analysisBig Cypress Bayou2010
Big Cypress - Floodplain inundation interim reportBig Cypress Bayou2011
Big Cypress - Monitoring network for bayou vegetationBig Cypress Bayou2013
Big Cypress - Implementing environmental flow recommendations Big Cypress Bayou2014
Big Cypress - Monitoring strategiesBig Cypress Bayou2014
Big Cypress - Soil moisture response to environmental flowsBig Cypress Bayou2015
Big Cypress - Paddlefish reintroduction assessment Big Cypress Bayou2015
Big Cypress - Fish community indicesBig Cypress Bayou2015
Big Cypress - Summary report on high flow pulsesBig Cypress Bayou2017
Big Cypress - Soil moisture response to environmental flowsBig Cypress Bayou2016
Big Cypress - Monitoring results for forest plotsBig Cypress Bayou2016
Big Cypress - Environmental flows workshop reportBig Cypress Bayou2005
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