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Cypress Lake

Habitat History 

Cypress Lake was originally a grove of cypress trees, but was flooded during World War II in the 1940's as a water reserve that could be used to extinguish possible fires from air attacks. Before the cypress tree grove was flooded, it was used as open-air theater for Shakespeare’s plays, music and dance programs. Today, it is a beautiful lake unique to our campus. The 2-acre lake contains alligators, bullfrogs, 50-pound snapping turtle, yellow- and red-bellied turtles, soft-shell turtles, garfish, bass, carp and bream along with an abundance birds and cypress trees. UL Lafayette is the only university in the United States with a managed wetland on its campus. 

In 2017 a new plaza was constructed around the union next to Cypress Lake, and this year a second phase of the plaza was completed with the addition of pergolas and a pedestrian pier out to the center of the lake.

Cypress Lake Fun Facts:

  • Geographically, it was originally a bison wallow, going back to ancient times when bison herds wandering through the area stopped in the shade of the cypress grove, pawing and stomping at the ground. Eventually a depression in the ground formed. The grove was called a trou de taureau in Cajun French, or “bull hole”.
  • Mating season for alligators happens every year in May or June, causing an increased presence of female alligators building their nests along the perimeter of the lake. Eggs, if deposited, are expected to hatch in mid-August through early September.
  • In 1962, Life magazine photographed students skating on Cypress Lake when it froze.
  • The large Oak Tree, south of the lake, was planted in honor of Edwin Stevens, the first and youngest president of the University, for his efforts as president, ecologist, and visionary.

Cypress Lake Events

Each year, UL Lafayette holds a few of their campus traditions in Cypress Lake, Lagniappe Week and the Louisiana Ring Ceremony.

  • Lagniappe week includes events such as comedy shows and dive-in movies at the Student Aquatic Center, plus everyone's favorites: the crawfish boil and canoe races in the swamp. Start practicing now for the next Lagniappe Week so you don’t fall in!
  • The Louisiana Ring Ceremony celebrates the bond between all UL graduates. The Louisiana Ring tradition dates back to 2012. The rings are placed into a UL-customized canoe and spend the night in Cypress lake, guarded by the alligators and UL Lafayette personnel.