It’s not every day trout anglers set out to fish and see a dump truck in the river.
That’s been the scene a lot of days at the White River below Beaver Dam with major work going on to keep the stream bank from washing away. A crew from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is placing tons of big rock along the shore from the dam boat ramp to nearly one-half mile downstream.
Tim Burnley with Game and Fish has been spending his days in a track hoe placing rocks, some the size of cars, along the river bank. Over the last decade, the seven floodgates at Beaver Dam have been opened frequently, he said. That sends high water racing downstream, eating away chunks of shoreline.
Beefing up the banks aims to stop the erosion.
“At some places, we’ve lost over 40 feet of river bank in sections 800 to 1,000 feet long,” Burnley said during a break from his work. “That’s significant erosion.”
The rock should keep the stream from getting wider and also give anglers more area to fish from shore. The stacked rock has created a sidewalk of sorts that allows access to more of the shoreline for fishing.
“Parts of it were slick mud banks that no one could even walk on,” Burnley said.
The Northwest Arkansas chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Bella Vista Fly Tyers are partners in the project, providing some of the funding.
“It’s sorely needed and about time,” said Ron Blackwelder, who’s a member of both groups. He came to the river to fish on Oct. 9 and watched the progress before casting a line.
Planning started in 2015, Burnley said. Work began on Sept. 16 of this year. He expects the project will be finished the first part of November.
“I want to be done before gun deer season,” he laughed.
Work takes place Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to noon, but times may vary depending on rainfall and power generation needs at Beaver Dam.
Stable banks mean less sediment washing into the tap-water-clear tailwater stream. That’s good for water quality and the trout that fin in the stream. It’s ideal for trout, which thrive in cold water. Water comes from deep down in Beaver Lake and emerges at about 50 degrees from the base of the dam. Trout can’t live in water much warmer than 70 degrees.
A stack of giant rocks sat on shore recently at the boat ramp 200 yards downstream from the dam. One rock alone might weigh tons, “and these are just babies” compared to some of the rock already in place, said Eli Powers, trout habitat biologist with Game and Fish.
Rock is hauled from the ramp downstream to banks where it’s needed. To get there, Jordan Lindaman with Game and Fish drives a gargantuan dump truck through the water close to shore along river left.
The commotion didn’t seem to bother the trout on this chilly morning, Oct. 9. One fly fisherman caught and released a 17-inch rainbow while Lindaman drove through the water. Trout splashed at the ends of fishing line all morning during the work.
It’s a major project, but a bargain, Burnley said, with Game and Fish doing the work.
“I think we’re going to come in at around $150,000,” he said. “If we hired a contractor, it’d be about a million.”
A tailwater is a stream that emerges from the base of a dam, such as the White River emerges from the base of Beaver Dam. The river flows for about seven miles downstream to Houseman Access. From there, it begins to flow into Table Rock Lake.
Source: Staff report