Lake Chicot State Park Remains Open During Scheduled Drawdown
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will conduct a six-foot drawdown of Lake Chicot to improve the fishery and allow lakeside property owners the opportunity to repair boathouses and docks on the waterfront. Lake Chicot State Park will remain open during this time. Visitors can expect to see a difference in terms of what the shoreline looks like. Other than that, all park activities will not be affected.
“Lake Chicot State Park will be open seven days a week during the drawdown,” said Arkansas State Parks Regional Supervisor Marcel Hanzlik. “We will be renting boats and the boat ramp will be operational. Everything will be the same at the park.”
The drawdown begins July 8, and the lake is expected to reach the drawdown level of 100 National Geodetic Vertical Datum by August 19, depending on rainfall in the watershed. The drawdown ends on January 1, 2020, to allow the lake to refill to normal pool by spawning season.
According to Kris Nault, regional fisheries coordinator at the AGFC’s Southeast Regional Office in Monticello, the scheduled drawdown is part of the fishery management plan to increase productivity in the lake.
“The lower water level concentrates predator and prey species,” Nault said. “Game fish can feed on forage more easily, so they will see increased growth. The thinning of the prey species also can benefit them, as the remaining prey will have less competition for food and will see increased growth.”
A drawdown also offers a chance to recycle nutrients tied up in the lakebed. As the shallow flats where bass, crappie and bream normally spawn are exposed and dry out, vegetation will sprout from the nutrients available in the soil. Once the water level returns to normal, the vegetation will serve as spawning and nursery habitat for bass and crappie. As the vegetation begins to deteriorate, it also will be taken up by invertebrates and baitfish, refreshing the food chain the lake.
In addition to the benefits to the fishery, drawdowns enable landowners time to make repairs to boat docks, boat houses, seawalls and other structures under the surface at normal water levels. For more information on the drawdown and procedures needed to establish or maintain structures on shoreline property, contact the AGFC at 877-367-3559.
About Arkansas State Parks
Arkansas state parks and museums cover 54,400 acres of forest, wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation facilities and unique historic and cultural resources. The system includes 1,100 buildings (including 183 historic structures), six National Historic Landmarks, a National Natural Landmark and 16 sites on the National Register of Historic Places.
The state parks have 1,800 camp sites, 1,050 picnic sites, 208 cabins, five lodges, and 415 miles of trails. Eight million visitors annually come from all regions of the country. Park staffs provide over 42,000 education programs, activities and special events to more than 700,000 participants each year.
Established in 1923, Arkansas State Parks preserve special places for future generations, provide quality recreation and education opportunities, enhance the state’s economy through tourism, and provide leadership in resource conservation.