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AGFC advises boaters to stay off Arkansas River during Memorial Day weekend

BY Randy Zellers

ON 05-23-2019


May 23, 2019

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

LITTLE ROCK — Memorial Day weekend is synonymous with fun in the sun, fishing, and enjoying time on the water, but the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is warning everyone to steer clear of the Arkansas River this year, due to the massive amount of water being released from reservoirs throughout Oklahoma that have nearly reached capacity from spring rainfall.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has already issued a release stating the flow is likely to exceed flows that caused major flooding in 2015 and in 1990,” said Keith Stephens, chief of the AGFC’s Communications Division. “To put it into perspective, small craft advisories are issued when the flow gets to 70,000 cubic feet per second; they expect flows on most pools of the river to peak at or near 500,000 cubic feet per second in the next week.”

Stephens says there are many lakes in Arkansas that provide excellent opportunities to fish and enjoy a day on the water, and boaters should avoid the river until the water levels have dropped to safe levels. 

“We can’t legally keep anyone from going out on the river during this time, but anyone who tries to go out would be risking their lives and the lives of anyone who attempted a rescue during these conditions,” Stephens said. “If the current is too fast and the water is too high, we simply cannot get to someone if they attempted to go out on the water.”

When choosing a lake to enjoy the weekend, Stephens says its important to call ahead if possible to determine if high water has impacted some of the facilities at their location. 

“We’ve also seen high-water level warnings for Beaver, Dierks, Greers Ferry, Nimrod, Blue Mountain, Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes in the last week,” Stephens said. “Many of these warnings include information about campground closures and warnings that submerged objects may be in the water near shallow water. If you’re going to a Corps reservoir, you can find contact information at their district office’s webpage. Many state parks also have marinas and visitors centers onsite that can help with up-to-date information on water conditions for Memorial Day Weekend as well.”

Visit the Little Rock District Corps of Engineers web page at for information on the following reservoirs:  Beaver, Blue Mountain, Bull Shoals, Dardanelle, De Queen, Dierks, Gillham, Greers Ferry, Millwood, Nimrod, Norfork, Ozark and Table Rock.

Visit the Vicksburg District Corps of Engineers web page at for information on the following reservoirs: DeGray, Greeson and Ouachita.

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