Dedicated to the Conservation of Southeastern Fishes
1997 Report of Region 5 - Northwest
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is gathering environmental documentation and developing preliminary plans to construct the White River Navigation Project from the mouth upstream to Batesville, AR, a distance of approximately 255 river miles. The project was re-authorized by the Water Resources Development Act of 1996 and proposes to construct and maintain a 200 foot wide by nine foot deep navigation channel. The White River supports good populations of paddlefish and sturgeon along with a substantial commercial mussel fishery. The proposed navigation project will seriously impact numerous gravel shoals and provide a vector for the increased dispersal of the zebra mussel into the middle reaches of the mainstem White River. Representatives from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas State University, and the Shell Exporters of America (SEA) are coordinating efforts to provide information to the Corps of Engineers, so that all environmental and economic costs/benefits are included in NEPA documentation for the project. As the project develops, the SFC will be asked to make a position statement regarding the project.
Crooked Creek (White River drainage, north central Arkansas), one of the premier smallmouth bass streams in Arkansas and the Southeast, fell just short of receiving designation as an extraordinary resource (ER) stream in Arkansas which would have prevented instream gravel mining in the water body. This came on the heels of an economic analysis provided by a Governor's Task Force which determined that instream gravel mining in Crooked Creek was not cost effective given the adverse impacts to the fishery and other stream resources and functions. The Arkansas Department of Pollution and Ecology promulgated its Regulation 15 during 1996 which provides permitting and controls for instream gravel mining operations. The ADPC&E Commission has decided to delay the ER designation for Crooked Creek until the effectiveness of Regulation 15 on preserving the water body can be evaluated. To date, there have been three applications for instream gravel mining permits to remove aggregate materials from Crooked Creek.
Arkansas fishes are swimming a little easier these days as Neil Douglas of Northeast Louisiana University is retiring this spring. Neil and his students have provided numerous distributional surveys and amassed quite a database of fish distribution and relative abundance within Arkansas.
Henry Robison (Southern Arkansas University) reports that he and Bruce Thompson (Louisiana State University) are continuing to analyze and rewrite their manuscript revising the Percina nasuta complex in Arkansas. Robison reports that they are "almost there". Additionally, Robison reports that Pat Ceas of Eastern Kentucky University continues his work on the Etheostoma spectabile complex in Missouri and Arkansas.
John L. Harris