From Walton Sun Regardless of officials? assurance, some homeowners are still worried about the coastal dune lake levels. ?The whole area is flooded,? resident Jim Rester said about Draper Lake. Rester expressed concern about submerged vegetation surrounding the perimeters of the lake. ?It?s unconscionable to me. [The Department of Environmental Protection] is supposed to protect the environment and they let this happen. I don?t understand why. It?s a constant problem.? Environmental consultant and member of the Lake Powell Community Alliance Katherine Berryman said that since the onset of recent storms Camp Creek is completely closed off. She believes that manmade procedures, such as beach scraping, may have caused the backup. However, she thinks that it would more prudent to let nature take its course. ?[People] opening the lakes could be very harmful,? she said. ?As long as it [the backup], is not caused by manmade materials, it wouldn?t pose a threat. They?re natural and act in response to the natural water table,? Assistant State Geologist Tom Scott said. ?With all of the rain we?ve been having, the lakes should be pretty healthy.? Rester said that many people told him to let nature take its course. However, he believes that recent storm damage has caused an unnatural situation. Many environmental experts disagree. Klaus Meyer ? Arendt, Ph.d., professor of environmental studies, specializing in coastal science, explained that the vegetation should remain relatively unharmed, though the trees might experience some stress. The entire process is part of a larger cycle. ?If you look at the longer term cycle, there?s an equilibrium that comes about,? he said. Gene Chalecki, FDEP Beaches and Coastal Systems program administrator, said that FDEP noted some tree ?die off,? but it had been identified with early storm surges, not current lake elevation. According to Michael Barnett, Chief of the Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Dune Systems, FDEP does not support opening the lakes unless there is an imminent threat to structures. As of now, there are no homes or businesses in any danger. For the past year, the Coastal Dune Lake Advisory Board has been attempting to get a blanket permit for several lakes, including Alligator, Western, Eastern and Oyster. Under guidelines established by DEP, a benchmark would be established where the bodies of water could be opened without going through any federal agencies. ?All we can do is work with the system,? Advisory Board member Meg Nelson said. Barnett explained that FDEP is very supportive of the permit. In recent years, the county has asked for numerous emergency permits. With the blanket permit, the county would not have to work with the agency on caseby-case basis. ?We?d like to help those residents the best we can,? said Director of Public Works John Johnson. ?Our stance is we?ll do all we can through legal constraints.? ?Long term, bigger solutions need to be arrived at,? Chalecki said.