Fisheries and wildlife biologists with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will discuss and gather public input on changes to the water level management plan for Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir. The changes include small discharges from the lake to irrigate moist-soil units in the Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area’s Palarm Creek Waterfowl Rest Area.
The Lake Conway Water Level Management Plan is a document that mandates: (1) how the lake’s spillway gates are operated to manage flood events, (2) what pool elevations the lake is to be managed at annually, (3) who is responsible for monitoring and managing the lake’s water level, and (4) provides restrictions for releases of water into the Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area needed for waterfowl habitat management. The plan was adopted in 1976 and revised in 2003.
Lake Manager Matt Horton said, “Due to changes downstream of the Lake Conway dam and completion of a 2013 hydrology report, it is now necessary to make changes to the plan to ensure the lake’s water level is managed in the most efficient way possible to ensure the safety of adjacent landowners, health of the lake’s fishery, and management of downstream waterfowl habitat,” Horton said.
A PowerPoint presentation will be presented at the meeting by Horton, and will cover the history of water level management on Lake Conway, results of the 2013 hydrology study including recommendations for alternative spillway designs, and an overview of changes that are planned in 2014, which includes less restrictive spillway gate operations.
AGFC wildlife biologists will explain recent changes made to Bell Slough WMA to enhance waterfowl habitat and will explain the need for the small discharges for irrigating moist-soil units in Bell Slough for waterfowl habitat management. Public comments regarding the proposed plan will be received during the meeting and included with the final draft submitted to AGFC’s administration.
Horton said, “We hope people will take advantage of this opportunity to learn about the changes to the lake’s water level management and provide their comments in this important decision making process.”