Cooperatove Conservation Project

Okhissa Lake

Partners Close the Valve on Mississipp Dam Project

Location: Southeastern Region: Mississippi

Project Summary: Building an earthen dam for a 1,000-acre lake for water and land recreation.
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Closing of the Valve on Okhissa Dam NRCS, USFS and Franklin Co. employees. NRCS and USFS, Public Affairs Offices
Resource Challenge

NRCS designed and administed the construction of the earthen dam, which will create Okhissa Lake.

Over 35 agencies and entities are involved with the dam, recreation and fisheries of Okhissa Lake Project.  Utilizing partners has ensured "ownership" and the needed long-term support of this project.  Challenges were identified and partners solicited to hlep address the issues. 

Challenges have included land exchanges, mineral exploration within the lake site, water and sewar infrastructure, roads into and within the recreation site and lack of immediate fish habitat due to steep terrain and lack of rock within itn lake site.

To overcome barriers, expedite timeframes and facilitate implementation, the Forest Service will utilize a private partner, through a special use permit to construct, maintain and operate the recreation facilities surrounding Okhissa Dam and Lake.

Examples of Key Partners
a.  Natural Resource Conservation Service   --  NRCS is the contract administrator to build an earthen dam in the Porter Creek Watershed in Franklin County, Mississippi on National Forest lands.

b.  Franklin County, MS  --  With a fifty-year history of local Franklin County support for the construction of a recreation reservoir in southwest Mississippi , Okhissa Lake project was officially launched in 1999.  Economic diversity and rural development was a major factor considered when making a decision to begin this project on National Forest lands. 

c.  USDA Forest Service  --  The Forest Service is constructing a 1000-acre lake and recreation area that will provide water, land and nature-based recreation opportunities.  Okhissa Lake will have 39 miles of shoreline, all on National Forest lands.






d.  Others  --  Federal and State and local elected officials, "Bill Dance", utility companies, local grassroots groups, and others
Results and Accomplishments
World-renowned bass fisherman "Bill Dance" has sanctioned Okhissa Lake as his first "Bill Dance Signature Lake" as he was involved in the fish habitat from the planning stage.  Natural spawning sites are limited in Okhissa Lake because of steep slopes and no rocky areas.  Placement of spawning beds enhance the productivity and fisheries habitat of the lake and will improve the quality of fishing experiences. To improve the lake fishery habitat, fish structures were installed before the lake bottom was flooded.

The Okhissa Dam Lake Project was built upon the need for economic diversity and rural development for southwest Mississippi, as this area's economy is based almost totally on timber.

Project Contact
Mary Bell Lunsford
Public Affairs Officer
Homochitto National Forest
1200 Hwy 184 East
Meadville, MS 39653
Jeannine May
Public Affairs Officer

Jackson, MS


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