What is Fish eating Creek?
A fifty-two-mile long river running from headwaters in Highland’s county passing through cypress knee-studded forest, pasture land, and marsh finally reaching Lake Okeechobee, one of the nation’s largest freshwater, lakes.
The history includes travel for trade by Claus Indians, traveling west as far as Punt a Gordy. Early settlers used the river for travel until roads became established. The Lakes Brothers settled in the area and soon became the owners of the lands surrounding the creek. Over the years, the creek became a focal point for the local community.
Many courted, married, and baptized their children there. They also depended on the Creek for much of their daily sustenance and most of their recreation. People from all walks of life and every section of the state camped along the banks and fished the waters for many years. The Likes families were guardians of the creek and fortunately for Florida allowed no development or defacement of the environment. The Lakes Company ran a large camping and canoeing business headquartered at the Palmdale Campground.
More than 250 campsites were maintained with little or no damage to the exceptional beauty surrounding the campground. In 1989 the creek was closed to the public. Trees were felled across the creek and gates were erected. Armed deputies threatened attempted users of the creek. Emotions ran high. Demonstrations were organized and a ten-year-long battle featuring a local group, Save Our Creeks, and the Environmental Confederation of So. West Florida, along with the Florida State Attorney General, Bob Butterworth. The Army Corps of Engineers filed suit against Lakes, striving to prove the navigability of the creek.
Years of litigation confirmed the state’s ownership of those lands below the mean high water line (sovereign lands) and restored the rights to use the creek back to the people (that story will be found elsewhere on this site), but for now, the campground at Palmdale has reopened and enhances the Fish eating experience. Daily guided two-hour eco tours are available for a minimum of four canoes and livery service is provided for one, two, or three-day trips.
Camping under hundred-year-old oaks is an unforgettable experience, as is star-watching with NASA ambassador Ky Ewing and astronomy buffs from around the state. Full moon circles with a Native American theme and early morning hikes through the misty cypress will often be led by staff or campers.
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