Floras Lake (Curry)

Reachcode: 17100306000371 | Area: 272.4 acres | Shoreline: 5.5 mi | View on Interactive Map

(From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985)  Floras Lake, a medium-sized lake on the southern Oregon coast, is an embayment which has been cut off from the ocean by low migrating sand dunes. It exhibits a dendritic, or branching, shape typical of many of the coastal lakes formed in this manner. Still active, these sand dunes are steadily encroaching on the west shore of the lake. Surface inflow is derived from four unnamed tributaries and the outflow is into Floras Creek, also called New River, which enters the ocean through a breach in the sand dunes farther north. The water level in the lake is reported to vary as much as five or six feet annually, an unusually large fluctuation in a natural lake of this type. To the east and south of the lake is a timbered plateau, land which is primarily in private ownership; to the north lies a marshy floodplain. On the east shore is the site of Pacific City, an enthusiastic but ill-fated attempt to establish a Curry County seaport early in this century. The shoreline is now occupied by several summer homes and permanent residences. Only about one mile of the shoreline is in public ownership, this being along the west side in undeveloped Floras Lake State Park. The name Floras is presumably derived from one Fred Flora, an early day settler and miner in the region.

Floras Lake is popular with sport fishermen and summer recreationists and is important for salmon and steelhead runs to the upper tributaries. The lake contains several species of fish; both rainbow and cutthroat trout are stocked and there has been some effort to develop a black bass fishery. A paved public boat ramp is at the north end on Floras Lake Road. There is also a private resort at the northeast end of the lake.

In spite of its proximity to the ocean, the concentrations of sodium and chloride in Floras Lake are slightly below average for coastal lakes. Concentrations of other major ions and the alkalinity are also low, especially in winter and spring. One-third of the lake is shallower than 10 feet and about half is shallower than 15 feet. As a result there are extensive beds of submerged and emergent macrophytes along most of the littoral areas. There is also a noticeable decrease in the amount of shoreline vegetation around the periphery of the lake between the high and low water marks. Floras Lake is usually well mixed, explained by its exposure to the strong and persistent winds of the Cape Blanco region. However, weak thermal stratification has been observed, accompanied by a slight amount of oxygen depletion in the central basin.

The slight oxygen depletion and average values of transparency, chlorophyl and phosphorus concentrations indicate that Floras Lake is mesotrophic. Turbidity is frequently high due to heavy wind mixing and the presence of planktonic algae, although the sample collected on 8/3/82 had a low algal density. The ratio of drainage area to lake surface area and volume is above average for Oregon coastal lakes; thus the flushing rate is greater than average and reduces the likelihood of eutrophication.