Sutton Lake (Lane)

Reachcode: 17100205005558 | Area: 114.0 acres | Shoreline: 3.5 mi | View on Interactive Map

(From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985).  Sutton Lake on the central Oregon coast is one of several lakes concentrated in an eight mile stretch of dunal topography north of Florence and the Siuslaw River. It is part of the same ancient stream system that includes Mercer Lake directly to the east. Both lakes were formed as a result of coastal submergence following the Pleistocene Epoch, a period in which the lower reaches of coastal steams were inundated by rising sea level. Subsequently, the mouth of this system was buried by advancing sand dunes and by the infilling of sediments from streams descending from the Coast Range. Sutton and Mercer Lakes both represent ponded portions of the headwaters of these streams with water surfaces above present sea level and the bottom of the lake basins below sea level; at Sutton Lake the bottom is approximately three feet below sea level (Cooper 1958).

Sutton Lake is, in fact, two distinct basins of about equal size, connected by a 200-foot long narrow channel which is about four to five feet deep. Surface inflow to the northeast (upper) basin is from Rock Creek and other small surface streams. Mercer Creek enters the southwest (lower) basin through Sutton Lake Marsh, a dense willow and peat bog which separates the two water bodies. The marsh is a valuable natural habitat, of substantial value to fur bearers and waterfowl. Privately owned, it has been classified by the Nature Conservancy as a "significant natural area" and its protection is encouraged. Fairly extensive marshes, in fact, exist around much of the lake. The outflow from Sutton Lake is into Sutton Creek, which enters the ocean two miles distant. The eastern shore of the northeast basin abuts the steep slopes of the Coast Range. The west side is partially flanked by dunes, separated from larger dune forms to the west by U. S. Highway 101.

Fishing is good in the highly productive lake; there are both rainbow and cutthroat trout. Native cutthroats have made up most of the catch in past years, but the lake is stocked fairly heavily with hatchery rainbow trout. There are also a few bass, perch, and bluegill. A Forest Service Campground and a good day use facility with a boat ramp and dock are located near the outlet in the Sutton Lake Recreation Area, an administrative unit of the Siuslaw National Forest. Most (more than 90 percent) of the shoreline of the lake is privately owned and there are numerous houses, the largest concentration being on the east side of the northeast basin.

The water quality in Sutton Lake is typical of coastal lakes, i.e., low in mineral concentrations and slightly influenced by sea spray. Both basins develop thermal stratification in the summer; oxygen is typically depleted in the hypolimnion from June to September. Water transparency is above average for coastal lakes, but has declined in recent years. The Secchi-disk range in this survey, 1982, ranged from 5.6 to 9.2 feet (1.7 to 2.8 meters); but Kruse (1962) reported a range from 9 to 11.8 feet (2.7 to 3.6 meters). Bryant et al (1979), stated that this lake has become more productive in recent years, when compared to data from a 1973 study (Larson 1973). Total phosphorus, chlorophyl, and nitrogen are more concentrated than in many other coastal lakes, thus making it eutrophic. This may perhaps be due to nutrient contributions from Mercer Creek.

Net phytoplankton samples were collected from both basins on 6/4/79 and showed the following:

Southwest Basin:   Dictyosphaerium pulchellum, Staurastrum pinque, Ankistrodesmus falcatus, Fragilaria crotonensis, Volvox spermatopshaera, Sphaerocystis schroeteri, and Dinobyron sertularia.

Northeast Basin: Staurastrum paradoxum, Fragilaria crotonensis, Melosira granulate, Tabellaria fenestrata, Asterionella formosa, and Synedra radians.

Nannoplankton samples collected during the 1981/82 survey showed a spring bloom of Asterionella formosa, lower densities in the summer, and an increase in the fall. It is interesting to note the presence of Dinobryon sertularia which is often associated with oligotrophic lakes, but as shown here it may also be common in lakes of higher trophic states.

Since both basins drop off steeply around their perimeter, shoal areas are minimal and macrophyte problems are less severe than in many other coastal lakes. However, macrophytes are abundant in some of the littoral zone (especially Potamogeton, Nuphar, and Lemna) and appear to have increased in the last two decades. Kruse (1962) reported in 1960 that there were several small beds of water milfoil along the shore andbeds of water lilies and water shield. The 1982 survey showed more extensive macrophyte beds around most of the shoreline. The channel between the two basins is weed-choked, but passable for small motor boats. This channel may be receptive to one or more macrophyte control techniques, such as installation of macrophyte screens or applications of herbicides. In summary, Sutton Lake is by all indications eutrophic.


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The list below includes results of zebra and quagga mussels surveys conducted by the Center for Lakes and Reservoirs and other agencies. The results "non-detect" and "results pending" indicate that surveys for zebra and quagga mussels were conducted, but none were detected or results are pending. For more details on zebra and quagga mussel monitoring, please visit the Online Mussel Monitoring Map.

Date Status/Species Source
June 17, 2010 non detect Portland State University

The list of plants below includes results of aquatic plant surveys conducted by the Center for Lakes and Reservoirs as well as aquatic invasive plant species detections that have been reported to iMap Invasives: an online, GIS-based invasive species reporting and querying tool.

Plants listed in the table below are categorized as native to Oregon, on the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s (ODA’s) Noxious Weed List, on the Federal Noxious Weed List, or non-native but not listed as noxious. Federal Noxious Weed List plants are plants determined by USDA to be serious threats to U.S. agriculture, irrigation, navigation, public health or the environment (7 C.F.R. 360.200). The ODA Noxious Weed categories are:

ODA Class A - weeds either unknown or with small enough infestations to make eradication or containment possible; targeted for eradication or intensive control.

ODA Class B - regionally abundant weeds (may have limited distribution in some counties); targeted for local/regional control on case-by-case basis.

Download the complete dataset as a CSV

Date Species Status Source
- Utricularia vulgaris (common bladderwort) Native CLR
- Elodea canadensis (common elodea, Canadian waterweed) Native CLR
- Najas flexilis (common naiad) Native CLR
- Myriophyllum spicatum (Eurasian watermilfoil) Non-native ODA Class B CLR
- Cabomba caroliniana (fanwort, Carolina fanwort) Non-native CLR
- Potamogeton robbinsii (fern leaf pondweed) Native CLR
- Potamogeton natans (floating leaf pondweed) Native CLR
- Nymphaea odorata (fragrant waterlily) Non-native CLR
- Schoenoplectus acutus (hardstem bulrush) Native CLR
- Potamogeton amplifolius (large-leaf pondweed) Native CLR
- Callitriche hermaphroditica (northern water-starwort) Native CLR
- Potamogeton epihydrus (ribbonleaf pondweed) Native CLR
- Potamogeton pusillus (slender pondweed) Native CLR
- Egeria densa (South American waterweed, Brazilian elodea) Non-native ODA Class B CLR
- Schoenoplectus subterminalis (water clubrush) Native CLR
- Brasenia schreberi (watershield) Native CLR
- Myriophyllum hippuroides (western watermilfoil) Native CLR
- Nuphar polysepala (yellow water-lily) Native CLR
Sept. 8, 2003 Cabomba caroliniana (fanwort, Carolina fanwort) Non-native IMAP