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Butler Chain - Windermere, FL

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Butler Chain of Lakes, Windermere, FL

Windermere: Prior to the 1500s, the area was inhabited by the Timucuan Indians, and by 1564, by the Spanish. The United States purchased the eastern half of the state from Spain in 1821 and Florida became a state in 1845. It was around 1885 that Englishman Joseph Hill Scott purchased 150 acres on the southern shore of Lake Butler for his two sons, Stanley and Douglas.

Eventually, Dr. Stanley Scott homesteaded the property and named the area Windermere, many believe, after Lake Windermere in England. Additional settlers, many from England, came over to the area soon after. During this time, Citrus Groves were planted and the Florida Midland Railway was constructed through the area. By 1920, the population of Windermere was numbered.

Today, with a population of more than 2,300, the Town of Windermere is a quaint mixture of old and new homes with many of the original sand roads that wind through the town still remaining, reminiscent of its rich heritage and character.

This picturesque 4,720-acre chain is made up of 11 interconnected lakes. The Chain of Lakes was formed as a result of a typical Florida occurrence which is known as "karst topography". In this occurrence, limestone (found under the majority of Florida soil) is slowly dissolved by water to form sinkholes. A series of sinkholes formed over time created what is now called the Butler Chain of Lakes (also known as the Windermere Chain). There are areas in these lakes that reach depths of 50 feet and are believed to be the remnants of those old sinkholes which helped form this beautiful chain of lakes.

Many celebrities have homes on the Butler Chain of Lakes. Such people include the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, Ken Griffey Jr., Tiger Woods, Johny Damon, Warren Sapp, and others.

Butler Chain Permit and Application Downloads
Adjacent Homeowner No Objection Vegetation Removal Permit Application:

Download PDF (88k)

Permit Application to Construct a Boat Dock:
Download PDF (192k)

Permit Application for Shoreline Vegetation Removal:
Download PDF (200k)

Waste Disposal System
Wastewater Disposal System Information

Homes around the Butler Chain of Lakes dispose of wastewater in septic tanks. Given enough space between houses and at least 150-foot distance from the lakes, modern septic tanks and drain fields are an accepted method of disposing of bath and kitchen wastewater.

The state of Florida has strict regulations and codes regarding the installation of septic tank systems, and they require regular maintenance to continue functioning properly without despoiling the lakes. Sludge should be pumped as often as required, depending upon the amount of use, and the system should be inspected every three to five years.

Protecting the Water Quality of Our Lakes
Waterfront property slopes to the water’s edge. Some lake edges are steeper than others. The steeper the slope, the faster rain runs off toward the lake, carrying sediment, nutrients, and pesticides with it.

Engineers have shown that a system of swales and berms can slow down the rush of water toward the lake and hold back the solids. A swale is a shallow ditch parallel to the edge of the lake, and a berm is a low mound closer to the lake and parallel to the swale. The swale catches rain runoff, which is held back by the berm. Impurities sink to the bottom of the swale and the cleaner water on the surface spills over the berm when the swale becomes full. The water in the swale evaporates into the air and percolates into the soil, recharging the aquifer and returning clean water to the lake.

Swales and berms ar an important drainage device for protecting the quality of water in the Butler Chain lakes. It may take only a six-inch swale to provide protection for the lake. Swales and berms can also be attractive landscaping feature when planted with colorful, moisture-loving native plants.

Alligators in Florida Lakes
Q: Are alligators dangerous to humans?

A: Yes, large alligators can be dangerous, particularly those that have been fed by people. Feeding alligators and other wild animals is not only illegal, but causes them to lose their fear of humans. They become bold, aggressive and come to expect more food, which can be dangerous to people and ultimately to the animals. A mother alligator protecting her nest or young is very dangerous. In the United States from 1948 to 1995, there were 236 attacks on humans by alligators, 8 of which were fatal.

* Note: Alligators are naturally afraid of humans. A lot of water skiing, tubing, and swimming takes place on the Butler Chain of Lakes and there have been no known alligator attacks on humans.  However, being in the water after dark is not recommended.  If you are towing your child on a tube on the lakes and you spot an alligator--stop and bring your child into the boat.

Marine Law Enforcement
The Butler Patrol
The patrol consists of over a dozen fully empowered State Police Officers. Half of the Officers are from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). FWC being the authority on Florida’s Fish, Wildlife and Boating Safety. The other half of the detail consists of Officers from the Florida Park Patrol (FPP). This is the State agency responsible for environmental resource law enforcement for Florida’s State Parks, Greenways and trails. Collectively, they are the State Police Officers that make up the Butler Patrol providing boating safety and environmental law enforcement specifically for your taxing district, the Butler Chain of Lakes.

The detail has been in service since 1988, providing boating law enforcement on the eleven lakes and canals that make up the Butler Chain. In the late 1980’s the initiation of the Butler Patrol was a response to an overall rising crime rate and boating safety violations that were occurring on the chain of lakes. The Patrol’s primary mission is almost identical to that of the FWC, to provide boating safety and fish and wildlife law enforcement. Law enforcement presence on the Butler Chain is simply more concentrated as the officers are hired in an “off duty” capacity as provided by the taxing district. This solution provides a much safer environment for the people who enjoy the Butler Chain of Lakes. Additionally, the Patrol works with Orange County Department of Environmental Protection to provide information about illegal dock construction dredge and fill violations as well as illegal removal of vegetation. Further, the Butler Patrol works in concert with existing FWC law enforcement officers assigned to the geographic area. Over the past 15 years the Butler Patrol has performed well over 10,000 boating safety inspections, written thousands of warnings and citations, assisted in search and rescues and worked dozens of boating accidents. Officers have made boating under the influence arrests (BUI), drug arrests, arrests for wanted persons, theft and even arrests for disorderly conduct and battery. The Butler Patrol maintains a zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol and careless or reckless operation of boats.

Contact Patrol Officers at 407-448-4744 or 407-448-4746

Fishing in the Butler Chain

The Butler (4,927 acres) Chains of lakes are all very similar in that they are relatively deep for Florida lakes (20 - 40 foot holes), have abundant submerge vegetation and good largemouth bass fisheries. This 4,720-acre chain is made up of 11 interconnected lakes. Boat access is available only at one county ramp (Lake Isleworth just south of downtown Windermere) and public bank access is almost non-existent. Orange County charges a launch fee at the Lake Isleworth ramp and the ramp is not open after dark.

The R.D. Keene ramp at Lake Isleworth (Butler Chain) costs per day or per year for use of the ramp.

The Butler Chain is known for its excellent largemouth bass fishing. Most successful bass anglers pay attention to the bottom contours of the lakes offshore structure where 4- to 5-pound bass are commonly produced. Live shiners free-lined over grass edges, humps, ledges, and drop-offs adjacent to spawning flats is one method to consistently catch quality bass in the winter/spring (Try Lake Butler). Jigging spoons fished over deep-water humps can produce 50-fish days when the water gets cold and fish congregate tightly (Try Little Lake Down). The lakes also have relatively unknown and unstudied black crappie (speck), bluegill and redear sunfish (shellcracker) populations, but anecdotal angler reports and field observations indicate a fishery exists for all three species.

Expect to see schooling fish almost twelve months out of the year. These schooling fish sometime average 3 - 5 pounds, but in most cases are smaller. Carolina-rigging in depths of 8 - 30 feet is a great producer all year.

It is nice place to fish where you can catch big numbers of bass with an occasional big fish, though just being on this Chain for the day is worth the trip. If you enjoy topwater, this is where you'll want to be if you're looking for some fun.

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