Southeastern Fishes Council
Dedicated to the Conservation of Southeastern Fishes

1996 Report of Region 5 - Northwest
Henry Robison and Bruce Thompson continue to work on the description of the longnose darter form in the Ouachita River system, Arkansas. Robison and Thompson hope to complete their description and submit a manuscript in 1996.

Henry Robison has completed his status survey and report on Notropis ozarcanus in the Arkansas portion of its range. Bill Pflieger has also completed a similar survey in Missouri.

Jim Johnson and students continue to work with Amblyopsis rosae in the Logan Cave system in northwest Arkansas. Two M.S. theses involving population dynamics and movement, and population dynamics and growth have been completed. A third thesis studying metabolic rates of both cave crayfish and the Ozark cavefish has just been started. The Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport is under construction. Clearing and grubbing of the airport site is underway, and a contract has been let for water and sewer lines. Johnson feels there is a strong possibility of adverse impacts to cave systems from petroleum and deicing components in runoff.

A Little Rock environmental consulting firm (Ford, Thornton, and Norton, Inc. = FTN, Inc.) is coordinating efforts of the Arkansas Mercury Task Force. Mercury advisories continue to be in effect for lakes and streams in portions of south and central Arkansas. Some Lower Ouachita River Work Group reports regarding: 1) water and sediment quality, 2) ambient toxicity screening, 3) surveys of fish communities, and 4) instream monitoring of sediment-associated impairment are now available in Executive Summary format.

Business interests and citizens groups continue to promote development of commercial shipping on the White River upstream to Newport, Arkansas. Currently the Corps of Engineers maintains a 100-ft wide, nine-foot deep navigation channel. Proponents of additional improvements are promoting a 200-ft wide navigation channel, which in some upstream would encompass almost the full channel width. Several public information sessions and promotional literature have been provided by the White River Valley Association and the Arkansas Waterways Commission to citizens in the proposed project area.

The Grand Prairie Pumped Storage project is being developed to remove White River water during high stages for storage and use in irrigation. Eastern Arkansas has experienced chronic groundwater level depletion over the last 20 years due to withdrawals for irrigation. This project is sought by the agricultural community, and EIS information is being developed by the Corps of Engineers. Fish community impact concerns voiced by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission include: 1) withdrawals might reduce spring water levels to flooded bottomland hardwood spawning/feeding grounds; and 2) introduction of the zebra mussel, which occurs in the White River, to tributary streams which will receive runoff from fields irrigated with stored water.

The Arkansas Legislature passed Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Regulation 15 which prohibits instream gravel mining in 24 high quality Arkansas streams. These streams have been designated as extraordinary resource waters and include many of the Ozarks least disturbed water bodies. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas Department of Pollution Control and Ecology are advocating inclusion of Crooked Creek, a long-time premier smallmouth bass stream, as an extraordinary resource water. Opposition from gravel miners and locals is intense, and a state Gravel Mining Task Force has been established to bring a recommendation to the Governor's Office.

John L. Harris