Caney Lake Community Foundation pays tribute to Woody McDonald

NOTE: The tribute below to 2022 Freedom Flotilla Grand Marshall, Woody McDonald, is a reprint of a Facebook post that was authored by the Caney Lake Community Foundation..

Meet our Grand Marshal!

A Man on a Mission – the Father of Caney Lake

Mr. Woody McDonald was born in Jackson Parish in 1934. In 1957 he joined the Army where he served our country for two years. When he got out of the Army and returned to Jackson Parish, he became an active member of the Jaycees. It was during a Jaycees meeting in the mid 1960’s when he brought up the idea of having a lake in Jackson Parish. And so, his mission began!

His dream was to have a lake that would be an economic boom for Jackson Parish that could be used for recreation and fishing. Several locations were considered for this new lake; one was just west of what is now Westrock paper mill and the other in the middle of the parish just east of Weston.

After studying the two sites the western site was ruled out due to topographical reasons and several cemeteries that would be affected. So, for the next 20+ years, Mr. McDonald was relentless in bringing this lake to fruition. He and his wife made numerous trips to Baton Rouge to meet with officials to secure funding to get this idea off the ground. Once funding was approved for a survey Mr. McDonald personally met with every landowner who owned land in what was to become Caney Creek Reservoir. He negotiated deals with these landowners whose land would be flooded.

After countless meetings in Baton Rouge and here in Jackson Parish he finally convinced the State to secure the funds to start building the lake! Everything was going good until Gov. Edwin Edwards took office in 1972 and cut-off all funding bringing the project to a grindinghalt for the next eight years.

When Dave Treen took office in 1980 Mr. McDonald was back on his mission and got the funding secured again and the building of the lake continued. The DOTD started building the dam and spillway, the site for the State Park was being developed and Mr. McDonald decided that a majority of the lake was to be clear-cut to provide a beautiful lake. In 1986 the spillway was completed, and the filling of the lake was started!

This story about Mr. Woody McDonald and his idea is fascinating. His dream was not fueled by any political ambitions but simply to better Jackson Parish and to provide a lake for people to enjoy! He fought for his idea for more years than most anyone else would ever do.

Thank you to the “Father of Caney Lake” Mr. Woody McDonald, for never giving up. We love our lake!

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