Category Archives: Recreation

Norfork Lake Celebrates 75th Anniversary

Norfork Lake is celebrating its 75th anniversary. The lake is one of the most desired fishing destinations in Arkansas. Its remoteness allows you to really lose yourself in the natural beauty and splendor it provides.

Beautiful sunset over Norfork Lake.

Norfork Lake is rich with history dating back to WW II. The dam was originally created to be one of six dams built to accomplish flood control in the White River Basin. However, it ended up being used for so much more.

House of Representatives member Clyde T. Ellis and others, knew that the lakes and rivers of Arkansas could be powerful sources for creating electric power for the war effort. For years prior to the war, Ellis had been pushing hydroelectric power. He knew that Arkansas retained the necessary resources to provide electricity to the defense industries, and in 1941 his efforts paid off. The Flood Control bill passed the House, granting full authorization for power facilities at Norfork Dam.

It was completed in June 1943, and power generation starting in June of 1944. Congress also approved construction of three additional Arkansas dam and reservoir projects in 1938 for flood control. These included Nimrod, Blue Mountain, and Clearwater.

President Truman at the Norfork and Bull Shoals Dedications circa July 2, 1952.

Norfork and Nimrod were the only two dams that included power generating equipment. Although Nimrod was fitted with penstocks for power turbines, it was completed in 1942 without the remainder of the equipment needed to allow for hydroelectric power generation. The other two dams, Blue Mountain and Clearwater were tabled until after the war, but Norfork Dam received military priority status and became the Little Rock District Corp of Engineers’ first war project because of its categorization as a power source for future defense projects. As a result, Arkansas ended up becoming became a vital resource in war effort contributions.

Today, Norfork Dam and Lake provide a multitude of benefits to the state of Arkansas. In 2017, Norfork created revenue amounting to approximately 6.5 million to U.S. Treasury. “The lake is an integral part of the White River System which was designed for flood risk management to help protect homes, businesses and properties across a large part of Arkansas from the flooding” said Chief of Operations for the Little Rock District, Kevin McDaniels. And in 2017, the dam prevented 4.5 million dollars in damages based on the dam’s flood control prevention mechanisms.

However, flood management is not the only benefit Norfolk offers Arkansans. McDaniels goes on to discuss how the dam and lake also provide, “Hydroelectric power to thousands of homes, abundant recreational opportunities, outstanding hunting and fishing and high quality habitat for fish and wildlife.”

Fishing is still king here. Almost all varieties of fresh water fish are found in the lake, and it also contains one of the best striped bass fisheries in Arkansas. Numerous state record setting catches have come out of Norfork Lake here such as a rock bass, weighing in at 1 pound 8 ounces.

 


Whitney Lake Park Ranger recognized for saving drowning victims

Whitney, TEXAS – Park Ranger Jarod Briscoe received the Fort Worth District Castle Hero Award Nov. 16 at Whitney Lake.

The Castle Hero Award was established at the request of former District Commander Colonel (ret) Christopher Martin, to recognize district employees who in the course of their duties, have taken direct action which resulted in saving a life.

Based on Briscoe’s actions during a recent drowning incident at Soldier’s Bluff Park at Whitney Lake, demonstrates why he is deserving of this award.

On July 31, 2018, Park Ranger Jarod Briscoe responded to a local law enforcement dispatch on the radio for a drowning in progress at Soldier’s Bluff Park, Whitney Lake. Ranger Briscoe was near the park and arrived in less than three minutes, well ahead of any other first responders.  He took a rescue throw bag and two personal flotation devices and responded to the shoreline where the incident was occurring.  When he arrived, one male – who later was confirmed as a fatality, had already gone under and two more men were struggling in the water.  Two of the individuals had been swimming and cliff jumping, and the other jumped in to help. The shoreline is a sheer rock bluff, approximately eight feet above the waterline, with no way up for hundreds of feet in each direction.

Ranger Briscoe threw a life jacket to the individual who jumped in to help, and he was able to put it on and stay afloat.  Another bystander was trying to help the other young man, who was struggling to stay afloat in the rough water, as he pounded against the cliff. Ranger Briscoe threw him the rescue throw bag, but he was too fatigued and panicked to hold on to it. Briscoe then threw the second PFD and he was able to hold onto it and regain some composure.  He was not able to pull himself up with the rope, so Ranger Briscoe pulled him up the cliff face and onto shore.  First responders then arrived and assisted the young men up the cliff and onto shore.

Ranger Briscoe is relatively new to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District.  He is a former Army Ranger and responded very well to an emergency situation.  Despite one tragic loss, without Ranger Briscoe’s timely and effective response, the event would have almost certainly involved three fatalities.

Park Ranger Jarod Briscoe received the Fort Worth District Castle Hero Award Nov. 16 at Whitney Lake.
The Castle Hero Award was established at the request of former District Commander Colonel (ret) Christopher Martin, to recognize district employees who in the course of their duties, have taken direct action which resulted in saving a life.