Lake Wauburg

canoe

After almost a century of management by canoe and paddle on the lake the University of Florida, Lake Wauburg appears much as it did at the beginning of the 20th century: one mile by one half-mile of rippling green fed by spring water and runoff from the surrounding area, teaming with aquatic and avian life.

In 1918, the University YMCA bought 20 acres of land and water on the north shore of Lake Wauburg in Micanopy, Fla. From campus, the journey south along Highway 441 to the lake took half the day—longer, if travelers bogged down in the curvy sand and mud road.

When the YMCA disbanded, the lake property was deeded to the university. "Camp Wauburg” would now operate under the student union, which took over in 1936, Lake Wauburg Director Bill James said.

In 1962, UF Student Government received Lake Wauburg South, a 65-acre lot on the south shore, which the Athletic Association had purchased from a private citizen in 1958.

Student Government funding of $225,000, collected through special request funds, enabled development at the south shore in 1982. Lake Wauburg South has been in continuous use by the students, faculty and staff of the university since 1985.

"We’ve been here a long, long time,” James said. “We’ve made some improvements, but for the most part, we try to keep things as natural as possible.”

Catfish, bass, speckled perch and shellcracker fish mull through the greenish gloom. Wide-winged eagles, ospreys, cormorants, herons and egrets stalk the fish from high altitude. Alligators send up small clouds of water bugs as they glide through tall grass near the shoreline.

Truly, James said, the most radical step taken by the university occurred in the early 1970’s, when Dr. Charles S. Williams, Assistant Dean of the College of Health and Human Performance at the time, altered the original spelling of “Wauberg” to “Wauburg” to include the German word “burg,” which means community.