April 1, 2020
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
BENTONVILLE – Anglers and paddlers residing in or visiting Northwest Arkansas will soon find a much larger Lake Bentonville.
The Walton Family Foundation is providing the funding to the city of Bentonville and Bentonville Airport to complete a large expansion of the lake. The work will increase the lake size by 6 acres and will create several new shoreline fishing locations. Plans are for the lake to open later this year.
“The Lake Bentonville expansion will be a great improvement for anglers fishing from the bank and from small boats (kayaks and canoes),” Jonathan Stein, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission District Fisheries Supervisor in Rogers, said this week. “The lake is being expanded by 6 acres and this will lead to more fishing access on the lake. The project will also benefit anyone who enjoys being outdoors, going on nature hikes and viewing wildlife.”
Lake Bentonville is among the 40-plus lakes enrolled in the AGFC’s Family and Community Fishing Program. Plans are to stock the lake each month in the spring with catchable channel catfish and in the winter with rainbow trout.
The lake expansion is part of Walton Family Foundations plans announced last fall for Osage Park, an adventure-based outdoor destination and urban park in Bentonville designed to “engage and excite visitors of all ages, interest and abilities,” according to a press release by the Foundation. Osage Park, situated on 64 acres on I Street near the Thaden Field aviation center, is envisioned to offer opportunities to fish, explore wetland and enjoy local music and will help Bentonville meet the demand for recreational greenspace west of Walton Boulevard, an area where 58 percent of the city’s residents live.
“Osage Park will deliver a unique outdoor experience for visitors by creating a gathering place near Thaden Field and Lake Bentonville Park,” Steuart Walton of the Foundation said last fall. “Our community’s environment also stands to benefit as the park will preserve additional greenspace and improve water quality in the Illinois River Watershed.”
The added acreage to Lake Bentonville will enhance kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding on the lake as well, Walton said, along with the addition of multiple piers and platforms for fishing.
Also, an aviation-themed play active zone, pickleball courts, multi-use trails, an open-air pavilion for concerts, and floating boardwalks for a close-up look at the 12-acre wetland system are being constructed. Osage Park and the expanded Lake Bentonville will also have ADA-compliant parking lots.
When the project originally was announced last fall, David Wright, Bentonville’s director of parks and recreation, said, “The renovation of Lake Bentonville, when paired with the seamless connection to the new Osage Park, will prove more than the traditional park opening. These next-generation parks will provide our citizens public spaces that will have an immediate impact on our community. From preserving wetlands to providing areas for social and passive recreation, Osage Park and Lake Bentonville will offer something everyone can enjoy.”