July 12, 2017
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
The official dedication ceremony for the new weigh-in facility at the Prairie Creek Access on Beaver Lake was held last week.
The entire project was a partnership between local anglers and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. According to Jon Stein, AGFC fisheries biologist for northwest Arkansas, brush piles were created and placed in Beaver Lake from the trees removed for the weigh-in center. Anglers from the Bear Creek Bass Club joined AGFC staff to add the extra habitat to the water after clearing the area in preparation for construction of the facility.
“This is a great example of how anglers have been our partners in this project from the beginning to help out the fish and fishing on Beaver Lake,” Stein said. “They are really excited about the new weigh-in facility and have really stepped up to help make it a reality,” Stein said.
The facility is similar to the one at Lake Dardanelle State Park, which has been extremely popular with tournament directors and anglers.
“Prairie Creek is the most utilized access on Beaver Lake,” Stein said. “It has a six-lane boat ramp and a parking lot that can handle tournaments as large as 190 boats.”
Stein says the project began after local anglers spoke to him and Colton Dennis, the AGFC’s Black Bass Program coordinator, explaining their need and willingness to help in the project. He was able to secure a grant through the federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Fund (collected from excise taxes on hunting, angling and shooting sports merchandise). As a requirement of the grant, the state had to come up with 25 percent of the overall funds or in-kind labor donations needed to match the federal dollars.
“The anglers again came forward, this time to pledge their commitment to the project,” Stein said. “David Frank of Consolidated Improvement Services committed to clear the property and prepare the site for the new facility. Rick Epps of Epps Plumbing volunteered to help with plumbing at the facility. And Aaron Stanfield and Tune Concrete stepped up to help with the new concrete pad needed for the project.” Stein also said that McGoodwin, Williams and Yates Engineering donated the site plan, Harps Food Stores donated the weigh table and sink and Spectrum Paint provided the paint for the tanks.
In all, anglers contributed $32,500 worth of in-kind donations to the project and the AGFC contributed $41,250 of funding. This was enough matching money to secure $221,250 from federal grants to bring the total project cost to $295,000.
The facility has a 24-foot-by-36-foot pavilion facing a 42-foot laminated wood amphitheater. Two holding tanks are for anglers to keep their fish in while they wait to weigh-in. Water from the lake will be pumped into the tanks and an air blower will aerate them to ensure fish stay as healthy as possible during any weigh-ins.
The facility not only will be a great resource for the anglers, but it will help fish survival during tournaments as well.
“Some of the larger tournament organizations have their own mobile set-ups to keep fish healthy during weigh-ins, but many of the smaller ones don’t,” Stein said. “Instead of weighing in their fish on a truck tailgate or table at the ramp, they’ll now be able to check out the facility and really take care of the fish.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office at Beaver Lake will take over ownership of the facility. They will maintain it and check it out to anglers who request it for an event.
“The Corps permits more than 100 tournaments per year out of Prairie Creek Park, so they should be able to roll the new facility into their system pretty smoothly,” Stein said.