Public input sought on proposed Okhissa access hours change

by Sean Dunlap

Public feedback is being sought now through early September on a proposal to alter the operating hours for the Homochitto National Forest’s Okhissa Lake Recreation Area in Franklin County.

Homochitto National Forest District Ranger Shaun Williamson said his agency is considering changing daily public access hours from the present sunrise to sunset to 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“This is in response to multiple requests from visitors to access the area — especially later into the evening,” Williamson said.

“The change would also help limit any confusion as to when the recreation area operates based on changing sunrise and sunset times throughout the year.”

Written comments related to the proposal should include the following information:

The name, address, telephone number for the submitting party as well as any organization represented (if any).

Specific facts, issues or concerns about the proposed time change and how it relates to the recreation area.

Correspondence should include a title or heading referencing “time change for Okhissa Lake.”

Comments must be postmarked or received no later than Thursday, Sept. 1 and should be sent by mail to District Ranger, Homochitto National Forest, 1200 Highway 184 East, Meadville, MS 39653 or by fax to 601-384-2172.

Oral or hand-delivered comments will also be taken during normal business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Monday through Friday — excluding federal holidays — at the Homochitto Ranger District offices on Highway 184 near Midway Cemetery.

Additionally, comments can be submitted digitally — in a common format — to

Additional information on the proposed time change can be obtained by contacting Project Leader Michael Everett at 601-384-5876, extension 164.

The Okhissa Lake Recreation Area, operated and maintained by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the agency’s National Forest Service, is anchored by a 1,075 acre lake and features a number of public-use amenities off U.S. Highway 98.

Since late 2021, the area has been closed to the public for a 16-month rehabilitation project that required a draw down of the lake to improve the overall health of the fishery, reduce impacts of invasive species and also to improve visitors’ experiences with improved facilities.

Williamson said the scope of work at Okhissa seeks to boost future fish populations while aggressively treating infestations of giant salvinia, a weed that threatened the health of the man-made lake located near both Meadville and Bude.

Enhancements were also planned during the draw down to extend the existing south boat ramp along with sprucing up or constructing on-site, public-use amenities.

Tentative plans by the Forest Service call for the lake, which boasts 47 miles of shoreline, to reopen to the public possibly by March, 2023.