Sept. 28, 2022
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
BALD KNOB – The road leading to Big Hurricane Lake in the Henry Gray Hurricane Lake Wildlife Management Area was closed Tuesday, Sept. 27, and will not reopen until completion of work on a new Glaise Creek water-control structure. The structure is essential to renovating bottomland hardwood forests within the WMA, which saw substantial die-offs beginning in 2018.
The road closure will begin at the intersection of Glaise Creek Road and Hurricane Lake Road (where Glaise Creek and Whirl Lake meet). The latitude/longitude of the starting point for the closure are 35.20015 degrees North, 91.43331 degrees West. This will be the only section under construction but will be impassable until work is finished on the new structure. Areas accessed through Hurricane Lake Road north of this construction also will be inaccessible by vehicle during the construction.
The WMA has already seen major changes to water management within the previous greentree reservoirs, and a substantial project last year reestablished many drainage points along Mallard Pond Road on the south side of the WMA to allow water to flow to and from the Little Red River when conditions allowed. This next step of the renovation will widen and replace the existing pinch point at Glaise Creek to enable more flow through the WMA to the White River downstream.
“You have to start at the bottom and move up the system,” Jason “Buck” Jackson, AGFC statewide wetlands program coordinator, said. “The water has to have a place to exit, then you have to continue finding those pinch points.”
Advanced LiDAR mapping and surveying revealed many shortcomings of the WMA’s current drainage that will need substantial infrastructure changes to remedy.
“We estimate that at least 10,000 cubic feet per second of water needed to flow through this point for the WMA to drain effectively,” Jackson said. “The current structure was well short of that capacity.”
The Glaise Creek Project is work undertaken in a partnership between AGFC and Ducks Unlimited to improve water management in Henry Gray Hurricane Lake WMA to restore the habitat and set the stage for sustainable long-term management. A contractor hired by DU is working on the project, which received a federal North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant to help offset some of the renovation costs. The AGFC also has contributed more than $3 million to the Glaise Creek renovation, with the recent approval of a $1 million budget transfer within the AGFC’s existing budget to complete the construction and installation of the new water-control structure.
“We’re about to pour 1,500 cubic yards of concrete starting at the bottom of Glaise Creek,” Jacksonsaid of the new water-control structure. “It’s a massive structure. After all, it has to handle 120 feet of water up to 13 feet deep. That’s a lot of force to withstand. It’s going to take some time to complete. And the current site conditions are perfect now to begin.”