12 reasons to visit the Little Rock District

by Jay Townsend
Little Rock District
Public Affairs Office

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District is among the most visited Corps districts in the nation. The district operates nearly 150 public parks and access areas in Arkansas and southern Missouri. The district’s 25 multi-purpose lakes and navigation pools, combined with project operations lands, provide almost 500,000 acres of public land and water that offer a full range of outdoor recreation opportunities. The Corps manages these public resources to benefit fish and wildlife and to serve present and future generations. Major activities include sightseeing, camping, boating, swimming, skiing, hiking, fishing, hunting, picnicking, scuba diving, and more. Little Rock District Map The district’s central location and the region’s natural beauty draw visitors from Kansas City, Mo., Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas and Oklahoma City, not to mention visitors from every state and several foreign countries. Consider the fact that the country’s population center is only about three counties north of Bull Shoals Lake at Edgar Springs, Missouri, and you get a full realization of just how central it is.

1. Beaver Lake, Rogers, Arkansas Beaver Dam With about 487 miles of natural shoreline and 31,700 surface acres of water at top of flood pool, Beaver Lake offers the best recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Beaver Lake is a nature lover’s delight during all seasons. Towering limestone bluffs, natural crevices, a wide variety of trees and flowering shrubs, and a diversity of wildlife and birds afford shutter bugs, hikers and nature lovers many hours of enjoyment throughout the year. Crystal clear waters beckon boaters, campers, fisherman and scuba divers alike. Naturalists and hunters can enjoy the public lands bordering the lake as well as the Hobbs State Park Conservation Area, which covers 12,055 acres along the southern shores of Beaver Lake. Beaver Lake is also the largest supplier of water for Northwest Arkansas, serving more than 400,000 customers.

2. Blue Mountain Lake, Havana, Arkansas Blue Mountain Lake Located in the shadow of Mount Magazine, Arkansas’s highest peak, Blue Mountain Lake has offered many recreational opportunities since its completion in 1947. Modern campgrounds provide tent and trailer spaces, electrical and water hookups, showers, boat launching ramps, parking areas, fish cleaning stations, and many other amenities.  The excellent fishery in the lake includes largemouth and white bass, crappie, bream, and catfish. Other water sports, such as water skiing, swimming, and boating are also very popular activities. A shady, cypress tree-lined swimming area in Waveland Park provides a relaxing respite from a busy day at the lake. The Blue Mountain Wildlife Demonstration Area is located on the west end of the project property.  It is a world class bird dog field trial area that attracts visitors from throughout the United States and several other countries. The abundant public forests around the lake are open to in-season hunting, hiking, birding, sightseeing, and other outdoor activities. Blue Mountain Lake’s location between the Ozark and Ouachita National forests compliments the natural beauty of the area. There are plenty of activities available to keep any Blue Mountain Lake visitor busy.

3. Bull Shoals Lake, Mountain Home, Arkansas Bull Shoals Lake Seeking a clear, clean and uncrowded water playground? Set in the scenic Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri, Bull Shoals Lake has hundreds of miles of lake arms and coves perfect for boating, water sports, swimming, and fishing. Twenty-three developed parks around the shoreline provide campgrounds, boat launches, swim areas, and marinas. Sixty thousand acres of public land provide a variety of other opportunities. With more than 100,000 acres of land and water combined, this is the place to meet all of your recreation needs. With more than 45,000 surface acres of clear, blue water for boating, skiing, fishing and relaxation, twenty-two boat ramps located around the lake provide ready access for all.

4. Clearwater Lake, Piedmont, Missouri Clearwater Lake Whether it is boating, swimming, water skiing, camping, picnicking, sightseeing, hunting, or fishing, Clearwater Lake in southern Missouri can meet your recreation needs. The absence of private boat docks appeals to those seeking a “wilderness lake,” permitting boaters freedom to find a bit of unspoiled shoreline nearly anywhere on the lake. Boating enthusiasts and skiers have acres of smooth, deep water for sport. Whether you are an experienced sportsman or a beginner, Clearwater Lake has a place for you to cast lines. Bass, crappie, bream and catfish lurk beneath the sparkling clear waters of the lake. The vicinity is noted for the grandeur of its hills, natural springs, and general outdoor beauty. The shoreline is studded with high picturesque bluffs covered with sweet williams flowers, indented bays and coves. Oak, hickory, and maple trees are numerous, and the beauty of the area is enhanced each spring by the sight of flowering shrubs and trees, such as redbud, hawthorn, dogwood and wild plum.

5. DeQueen Lake, DeQueen, Arkansas DeQueen Lake Located on the Rolling Fork River in Sevier County, Arkansas, DeQueen Lake offers outdoor enthusiasts excellent opportunities for year-round enjoyment of the project. DeQueen Lake provides 32 miles of shoreline for visitors to enjoy. Whether you enjoy boating, fishing, skiing or canoeing, Dequeen Lake has everything you need. Fish species available for the angler include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, hybrid striped bass, black and white crappie, channel and flathead catfish and various species of sunfish. There are three campgrounds, six boat ramps, three swimming areas, many picnic areas and three picnic shelters for visitors to enjoy. Opportunities for hunting on project lands are as equally good for the hunting enthusiast. Principal game species include bobwhite quail, mourning dove, turkey, squirrel, cottontail rabbit, and deer.

6. Dierks Lake, Dierks, Arkansas Dierks Lake The Dierks Lake dam site is located at river mile 56.5 of the Saline River in Sevier and Howard counties in west-central Arkansas. The site is about 5 miles northwest of the town of Dierks and 30 miles from the only active diamond mine in the United States. The 1,360 acre lake can provide an enjoyable experience for boating enthusiast looking to swim, fish or water ski. Blue Ridge, Horseshoe Bend and Jefferson Ridge campgrounds, open year-round, are all tucked back in secluded wooded areas with access to the lake.

7. Gillham Lake “The Bright Spot on the Cossatot,” Gilliam, Arkansas Gillham Lake “The Bright Spot on the Cossatot” Whether you enjoy boating, canoeing, fishing, swimming, picnicking or hiking Gillham Lake has an activity for you. Gillham Lake has five recreation areas around the lake, five boat ramps, three campgrounds, two picnic shelters and one designated swim area. Canoeing and fly-fishing on the Cossatot River is a popular attraction for visitors. The river can be paddled from a point below the dam to U.S. Highway 71 South, a distance of about 16 miles. For shorter canoe trips, there are access roads to the river at Mize Crossing and Ladd Bridge. Need a waterless activity? Gillham Lake has the Coon Creek Walking Trail which is located on the entry road to Big Coon Creek Park. The trail is about two miles and makes its way through rolling hills and offers breathtaking views of the lake. The best time to enjoy the Coon Creek Walking Trail is during the spring when dogwood and redbud trees bloom or in the fall when the autumn colors are peaking.

8. Greers Ferry Lake, Heber Springs, ArkansasGreers Ferry Dam At the foot of Round Mountain in the beautiful Ozark Mountains of north-central Arkansas stands Greers Ferry Dam. Behind that structure dedicated in 1963 by the late President John F. Kennedy, glistens one of the foremost recreational areas in the central United States. More than 30,000 acres of water surface, the lake serves as a playground for all kinds of water sports. Eighteen parks around the shoreline provide modern campgrounds, boat launches, swim areas and marinas. Greers Ferry Lake is widely known as a record-producing fishery. The lake is currently home of the state record walleye weighing 22 pounds 11 ounces, hybrid-striped bass 27 pounds 5 ounces and lake trout 11 pounds 5 ounces. No trip to Greers Ferry Lake would be complete without a visit to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers William Carl Garner Visitor Center. The exhibit area setting begins in prehistoric time and moves visitors through local history to the present. Visitors learn the history of early exploration of the area, the events that led to the building of Greers Ferry Dam, and detailed information on the purpose and history of the lake, dam and power plant.

9. Millwood Lake, Ashdown, Arkansas Millwood Lake  Located in southwest Arkansas Millwood Lake has some of the best fishing in the country along with a wide variety of wildlife viewing opportunities.  With an abundance of food and varied habitats, multitudes of birds are attracted year-round to Millwood Lake. Birders from across the nation come to Millwood to get a glimpse of a wide variety of birds that include over 333 species reported within a 7.5-mile area. A flock of white pelicans reside year-round on the lake, while bald eagles, golden-winged warblers, gulls, and several species of ducks are among the birds making an appearance throughout the year. Millwood Lake has 12 recreation areas around the lake. There are 12 boat ramps, eight campgrounds, three picnic shelters, and one designated swim area. Millwood more than 150 campsites available for all types of campers. Some are primitive campsites for “getting back to nature” while others are equipped with water and/or electricity. Seasons vary for each campground generally running from spring to fall. Alligators are a part of the natural habitat at Millwood so be cautious and keep safety in mind while boating or fishing. There is no swimming in Millwood Lake.

10.  Nimrod Lake, Plainview, Arkansas Nimrod Lake Cradled between the Ouachita and Ozark mountains, Nimrod Lake has proven popular with fishermen and hunters since its completion in 1942. It is home to the oldest Corps of Engineers dam in Arkansas. The most popular sporting activity on Nimrod is fishing. The lake has an abundance of crappie, largemouth bass, bream, catfish and white bass. Other water sports such as water skiing, swimming, and boating are also very popular activities. In-season hunting is permitted throughout the lake area except in or near parks. A 2400-acre “green tree” public duck hunting area is available on project lands as well as a mobility-impaired hunting area.

11.  Norfork Lake, Salesville, Arkansas Norfork lake With wide open, breezy stretches for sailing and quiet secluded coves for skiing and swimming, the clear uncrowded waters of Norfork Lake are ideal for water sports.  Scuba diving is excellent, attracting divers from throughout central United States.  With 22,000 surface acres of water, Norfork Lake is also known as a great place for fishing.  The wooded and mostly undeveloped shoreline allows for ample room to enjoy the hills and hollows. Developed parks offer campsites that range from rustic to modern with electrical hookups, playgrounds, group picnic shelters, designated swimming areas and boat-launching ramps. The 32,000 acres of public land around Norfork Lake provides the hunter with good opportunities for white-tailed deer, wild turkey, squirrel, rabbit and quail. Migratory birds and waterfowl, such as doves, ducks and geese are also found here. Some areas are cooperatively managed with state and volunteer organizations to provide maximum benefits for both game and non-game wildlife.

12. Table Rock Lake, Branson, Missouri 12. Table Rock Lake Winding down through the valleys and hollows of the Ozark Mountains, from Branson, Missouri to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, Table Rock Lake reaches out for your attention with water as blue as the sky. Table Rock Dam and Lake has become a paradise for boaters, scuba divers, campers, nature enthusiasts and fishermen. Boating is a popular activity on Table Rock Lake. Fourteen marinas, twenty-four public boat ramps and sixteen public campgrounds are located around Table Rock Lake. No trip to table Rock Lake would be complete without visiting the Dewey Short Visitor Center. The visitor center has exhibits about the White River watershed, local habitats, Table Rock Dam, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well as several interactive exhibits including maps, power generation stations and water safety. It also features an overlook which allows visitors to view Table Rock Lake, the dam, and Lake Taneycomo from one viewing deck. On the grounds, you may enjoy picnicking or fishing along the shoreline. Don’t forget to make use of the beautiful Table Rock Lakeshore Trail, which is located adjacent to the visitor center’s parking lot.  ________________________________________________________________________ Wherever your recreational interest lies, please play it safe at the lake.  Leave the area in a better condition than you found it.  Avoid damaging trees and plants.  Properly dispose of all refuse. Take only photographs and memories; leave only footprints. We’ll see you soon!

Col. Richard Pannell

Col. Richard P. Pannell
Col. Richard P. Pannell
District Engineer and Commanding Officer, USACE Galveston District

Fellow Coastal Custodians,

The summer season has flown by quickly! But while summer may be coming to a close, the workload for the Galveston District continues to increase. As we enter the end of the fiscal year, we remain committed to the completion of many key milestones including contract awards, sponsor agreements and study updates. Over the summer we’ve remained laser focused on our Texas Coast strategy. The results of your efforts have been significant to our sponsors, stakeholders and to the American taxpayer. I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of the Galveston District and want to highlight a few examples of what I consider to be important projects, programs and activities in support of our nation’s goals and strategies.

The district continues to deliver on its mission to support navigation in the number two maritime state in the nation. Despite the challenges of unanticipated shoaling from flood events, the entire team has delivered the best maintenance dredging program in the country. Our sponsors up and down the coast are beyond satisfied with the level of service our channels provide the many industries that ensure economic vibrancy and energy security for the United States. There are still a few dredging contracts to award, but we have attained a high level of execution in our program all the while supporting small business goals and being excellent stewards of federal funds.

One great example of stewardship is our Beneficial Use Program. We are partnering with the Galveston Park Board, City of Galveston and the Texas General Land Office to support a major beach expansion representing the largest sand nourishment project on the Texas Gulf Coast this summer. The project will use 725,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from the Galveston Ship Channel to create 20 blocks of additional beach along the Galveston seawall between 61st and 81st streets. This project allows the Corps to work with a cost-sharing sponsor to place dredged material along the coastline supporting a long-term strategy to build public beaches, protect community assets from storm damage and protect coastal resources.

Another key effort for the district is protecting resources in the coastal zone to include reducing risks to infrastructure and lives through our Flood Risk Management (FRM) program. As you know, the team has been working hard to deliver on one of the biggest FRM projects in the nation: the Addicks & Barker Dam Safety Mega-Project. We look to award a contract that will kick off the five-year construction project at Addicks and Barker beginning as early as September 2015. Work will include installation of a new outlet structure and intake tower, steel-lined conduits, a parabolic chute slab, stilling basin, cutoff wall and downstream filter. This project significantly reduces the risk of flooding to central Houston – the fourth largest city in the country.

As we plan for the future, the district is heavily engaged on building and expanding a portfolio of interagency projects that support navigation improvement, reduce coastal storm damage and place emphasis on restoration of ecosystems. Several of our largest studies delivered on key milestones this month to include Sabine Pass to Galveston Bay, Coastal Texas and the Houston Ship Channel study. These studies represent three of the largest scale projects in the feasibility study portfolio of the entire Corps. All eyes are on the Galveston District as we seek to gain policy exemptions from both the Army and Congress to move forward on two enormous projects: Coastal Texas and the Houston Ship Channel Study. Coastal Texas will deliver a comprehensive plan with implementable recommendations to reduce the threat of storm damage across Coastal Texas and the Houston Ship Channel study will improve the efficiency and economic competiveness of the number one port in the nation for foreign tonnage.

For our projects and studies to be successful, we must have strong partnerships with our sponsors and stakeholders across the region. In late August, we hosted a one-day Stakeholder Partnering Forum to provide non-federal sponsors, customers and agency partners an avenue to collaborate on best practices regarding programs ranging from environmental to flood risk management, dredging the Texas coast and regulatory oversight of U.S. waters. This semi-annual partnering forum enables us to build on previous workshops. It allows us to hear directly from our sponsors and stakeholders on issues that are critical to the successful execution of projects and to move forward with integrated solutions. This forum also afforded stakeholders a venue to understand and interact on the latest information about our programs, projects, business processes and capabilities.

Not only do we need the support of stakeholders for our projects, but we also need the support of the public. We have many forms of public outreach, but one of our best examples is our Water Safety Program. Recently our team at the Colorado River Locks coordinated a project together with Bay City High School students to create signs to alert the public about the need to wear life jackets when they are in, on or around water. The signs are located in Matagorda, Texas, to warn the public that they are entering a “Life Jacket Zone.” With the Corps being the leading provider of outdoor recreation on all federally managed public lands in the United States, we’re working diligently to promote an increase in water safety awareness and to prevent drowning. These safety signs will remind mariners traversing the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to be safe on the water and to always wear their personal flotation devices. As I mentioned earlier, all eyes are on the Galveston District and there is keen interest in the work we are doing in Coastal Texas. In the first week of September, we have the honor of hosting the 92nd Coastal Engineering Research Board for USACE. This is an incredible opportunity for the district to showcase our efforts on delivering innovative solutions to some of the nation’s toughest challenges. This year’s theme is Coastal Navigation: Driving the U.S. Economy by Integrating Transportation Infrastructure with Natural Coastal Systems, and there is no better place to demonstrate this than Coastal Texas.


Col. Richard Pannell
District Commander, USACE Galveston