Lake Wichita

Lake Wichita, Texas

Lake Wichita

Purpose of the project:

Lake Wichita is the third oldestreservoir in Texas, completed in 1901. Historically Lake Wichita was known as
the “Gem of North Texas”, and served as a recreation destination social mecca,
a driving economic force, as a haven for the wise-use and conservation of fish
and wildlife resources, and as a foundation for community growth by serving as
a drinking water source. Having surpassed its expected 100-year life span, Lake
Wichita is no longer able to provide significant social, economic, ecological,
or recreational benefits to the community. Having recently gone through a
historic drought, we were able to see first-hand the fisheries habitat
impairments that plague Lake Wichita. Siltation, degraded shoreline areas, loss
of connectivity, excessive nutrients, lack of structural habitat, and lack of
water coming from the watershed combine to cause Lake Wichita to cease to meet
any of its intended purposes.

The Lake Wichita project is a holistic project that addresses all of these habitat issues and intends to galvanize
community support for the restoration effort, improve the quality of life of
the citizens of Wichita Falls, and provide major economic impacts to the local
and regional community.

Details of the project can be found at www.lakewichita.org but the majority of this nearly $55-million project
includes the removal of approximately 7-million cubic yards of sediment. Over
200 acres of wetlands and aquatic vegetation plantings are planned, invasive
salt cedar and mesquite control on private property (in conjunction with
willing land owners) on the 134 mile2 watershed, addition of
structural habitat in the littoral zone, amenities that include boat ramps,
fishing jetties, wildlife viewing areas, walking trails, ADA paddling trails,
camping areas, and a boardwalk that includes reconstruction of a historically
significant pavilion. These amenities are intended to create an environment for
retail development along the shoreline and provide for a “destination” for the
community and an opportunity to see first-hand what a healthy and vibrant
aquatic system can mean to the quality of life.

The Lake Wichita project will serve as a model of the type of projects with community support that the Reservoir
Fisheries Habitat Partnership envisions as the Partnership matures. The
“vision” for Lake Wichita has been already been presented at several RFHP- and
NFHP-sponsored symposia at scientific meetings and showcased as the type of
restoration effort that collaborative partnerships can create.

Human Interest/Community Benefit:

A project of this magnitude requires the support of the community and to achieve this a massive outreach effort is
ongoing. The project has conducted 69 public presentations to a total 2,230
people, participated in 20 public events with their trade show booth reaching
more than 20,000 people, and has an active following on Facebook by more than
2,200 people. Additional outreach efforts include a website, www.lakewichita.org that has garnered
1,000s of visits since being launched in May 2015, a Facebook page www.facebook.com/ourlakeourlife with
more than 1,500 followers, a promotional video that has been viewed more than
100,000 times since being unveiled in May 2015, a kiosk in Sikes Senter Mall
displaying informational materials, donated ad space in the local newspaper,
Public Service Announcements being run on local television and radio, the
project being a pillar of an ongoing newspaper series entitled “Imagine Wichita
Falls,” more than 250 yards signs and banners posted throughout the local
community, the yard sign artwork being utilized on multiple digital billboards
throughout the community, promotional t-shirts and pint glasses, coasters,
table tents, and posters being utilized by local business to promote the
project, rack cards with pertinent project information are being distributed,
and a steady stream of television, radio, and newspaper stories continue to be
developed and distributed. All of these public outreach efforts have included
recognition of our principle partners, including the Reservoir Fisheries
Habitat Partnership and the Friends of Reservoirs. To evaluate the
effectiveness of the outreach efforts, the Lake Wichita Committee conducted a
public opinion survey. In that survey, 96% of respondents said they felt that a
“developed Lake Wichita would be an economic benefit to the community,” and 97%
said they would “take advantage of a viable Lake Wichita.” In that same survey,
respondents listed fishing as the number one activity they wanted to be able to
enjoy at Lake Wichita, followed by walking/jogging, boating, picnicking,
swimming, wildlife observation, camping, personal watercraft, beach activities,
and cycling respectively. All of these efforts result in a more environmentally
literate community with an emphasis on understanding the importance of
fisheries habitats and watershed connectivity.

Project Timeline: January 2014 through December 2020

Economic Calculator
results

As per a model developed by the Genter Consulting Group, the habitat enhancement aspects of the project alone
will result in creation of 816 jobs and an $81-million increase in economic
activity. In another economic evaluation conducted by Midwestern State
University’s Dillard College of Business Administration, completion of the
“vision” outlined for revitalization of Lake Wichita is expected to annually
support 11,800 jobs in the MSA, increase annual retail sales in the MSA by
$300-million, and provide an increase to annual City, County, and ISD (within
the MSA) revenue of $27.5-million.

Partners:

Reservoir
Fisheries Habitat Partnership

Texas
Parks and Wildlife Department-Inland Fisheries Division

Texas
Parks and Wildlife Commission

City of
Lakeside City

City of
Wichita Falls

Lakeside
City (Lake Wichita) Chapter of Friends of Reservoirs

Hoegger Communications

Local businesses

2016 Waters to Watch