Dedicated to the Conservation of Southeastern Fishes
2000 Report of Region 5 - Northwest
The White River Navigation Project was reauthorized by the Water Resources Development Act of 1996 and proposes to construct and maintain a 125-foot wide by nine-foot deep navigation channel from the mouth upstream to Batesville, AR (approximately 255 river miles). A notice of intent to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was published by the Corps of Engineers in the Federal Register (Volume 64, No. 5, p. 1181) on January 8, 1999. Corps Waterways Experiment Station personnel spent several weeks in the field in late 1998 gathering data to assess the possible impacts of the navigation project on littoral and demersal fishes, including paddlefish and sturgeon. Several public and agency meetings regarding the project were held during 1999. WES personnel (Jan Hoover, Jack Killgore) presented preliminary findings of the fish studies to regulatory agencies in October 1999 and a HEP team meeting was held in St. Louis in January 2000. Several irrigation projects have surfaced which will be competing for White River water use. The Grand Prairie Irrigation Project is planned to alleviate pressure on east Arkansas aquifers, which have been severely depleted during the past decade of withdrawals for irrigation. The proposed Grand Prairie Irrigation project will pump water from the White River into a series of canals, natural streams, and holding ponds. Several hundred miles of new canals are planned to distribute water to holding ponds within the Grand Prairie region. Two other similar projects are in the planning stages, and both are also in the White River Basin. The Fish and Wildlife Service and Environmental Protection Agency have called for a "unified assessment" of these development projects to determine potential impacts to the stream biota of the White River basin. A Draft Supplemental EIS for the navigation project was originally scheduled for distribution in early spring 2000. The demand for the unified assessment has delayed the completion of the navigation project Supplemental EIS.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station personnel are evaluating the feasibility of diverting water from the Arkansas River near Little Rock into the Bayou Meto drainage for agricultural irrigation, commercial withdrawal, and duck management. WES personnel are determining potential losses of larval fishes from the Arkansas River during water diversion and estimating fish benefits of increased water level in receiving streams and canals.
Henry Robison (Southern Arkansas University) is working on the distribution and life history of Notropis ortenburgeri in the Ouachita National Forest. Also, Henry has been working with the Ouachita National Forest, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission to digitize and geo-reference all major fish collections in the state.
Charles Gagen (Arkansas Tech University) has been studying fish movements at Forest Road stream crossings on six Ouachita River drainage streams in the Ouachita National Forest. Downstream species numbers averaged 12.3 for the six streams and upstream species numbers averaged 6.3. Three of the crossings have been modified in an attempt to improve fish passage, and the study continues for the next year.
Dan Beckman (Southwest Missouri State) has been working on age/growth studies for Noturus exilis and N. albater in Bull Creek, (White River drainage), MO. They have also been comparing different techniques for aging the madtoms.
Matt Winston (Missouri Dept. Conservation) reports they are continuing their statewide, baseline data surveys with concentration during the past year in the Missouri bootheel. As a result of these surveys, Fundulus chrysotus, has been rediscovered in two channelized streams. Also, Cyrstallaria asprella was collected at several sites in the Black River. Matt also reports that Notropis topeka apparently has disappeared from one of three creeks that it was known from in Missouri.
John L. Harris