Wildlife Mississippi began working to preserve Sky Lake soon after the organization was formed in the late 1990s. Wildlife Mississippi’s founder, Clarke Reed of Greenville, was an early promoter of creating public access to Sky Lake. Wildlife Mississippi worked with the governor’s office and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to acquire the core of the property from its owners, Peggy and Mark Simmons. Since then, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has acquired another 3,500 acres around Sky Lake and restored its bottomland hardwood forests.
Funding for the project was provided by the Recreational Trails Program, a cooperative effort of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and the Federal Highway Administration. The Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Levee Board purchased 50 acres for the project, constructed one of the parking lots and funded the development of a paddling trail.
Pryor and Morrow Architects and Engineers designed the boardwalk. David Smith Construction Inc. built it. The boardwalk was built to blend into Sky Lake’s cypress-tupelo swamp as much as possible. The boardwalk is 12 feet above the forest floor. It allows visitors ample opportunities for photography and wildlife viewing and passes by the largest bald cypress trees at Sky Lake.