Lake Ouachita Citizen Focus Committee Meeting Minutes March 2010

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Call to Order:  1900 hours by Arnie Habig

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

Amy Shultz, Park Ranger, Lake Ouachita Field Office

Members Present:

Tom Butler
David Doty
Al Gathright    "Member Hot Springs black bass club"
Arnie Habig
Larry Raney
Buck Rogers
Jerry Shields
Jerry Williams
Howard Wright

Minutes in Review:
The minutes for the 8 February 2010 were approved as written.

Announcements: 

Arnie H. shared the feedback from Colonel Eckstein’s visit with the committee.  Colonel Eckstein had some really positive comments about the “Denby Bay Coalition” and the efforts of the Trail Dogs along with the partnership/relationships we have with the LOCFC who he stated was a very positive group working for the benefit of Lake Ouachita….. “Keep up the Good Work.”

Arnie H. announced there were no indications during Colonel Eckstein’s visit that he has plans to set up additional Stakeholder meetings.  Arnie H. stated that he had received a phone call from Mr. Craig Collins, Operation Franchise, website www.operationfranchise.com, who had been referred to Arnie from the Vicksburg District Office concerning an interview about Lake Ouachita and the Citizen Focus Committee.

Sub-committee Reports:

Lake Ouachita Vista Trail and ADA Trail:

LOViT:
Jerry S. related that the “Trail Dog” volunteers had logged 737 hours on the trail this year with only 10 volunteers working.  Jerry S. stated the “Trail Dogs” had finished the two miles of the new trail into Crystal Springs Recreation Area and the two miles on the Charlton Trail that had been recently re-worked as well.  Both trails are looking really good and the work has been progressing.  Jerry S. related that the “Trail Dogs” will be meeting with the U.S. Forest Service, Mr. Bill Bass, Arkansas Highway Department and Mr. Rick Stokes, Lake Ouachita, US Army Corps of Engineers, on March 23rd to discuss the challenges and issues facing the “Trail Dogs” as the trail progresses from the Crystal Springs Recreation Area onward to Blakely Mountain Dam.  One of the primary challenges is that the planned route traverses through a designated road less area, which will require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) performed instead of an Environment Assessment (EA) in order to dig the trail through the designated area.  Jerry S. suggested to only do one EIS from Crystal Springs to the Dam, due to the increased cost, which can be 10 times more complicated and expensive than an EA. An archaeological and historic review will also be required.  Jerry S. related that it will take two bridges, measuring 75 feet each, to cross Crystal Springs Creek.  The trail’s path will then run over Little Bear Mountain to the top of Big Bear Mountain.  Once on top of Big Bear, a path will be plotted directly to the dam. Jerry S. related that this will be a very hard dig with issues of getting equipment and volunteers into the work area.  The trail will be much more technical with less access. Jerry S. stated contact will be made with the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Commission and seek assistance with the trail and possible grant writing.

Jerry further related the second challenge is the Vista Trail Project has expended all the grant monies that were made available.  Arnie H. made the suggestion that it may be time to start seeking private corporate funding to assist with the completion of the LOViT.  Jerry S. stated that private funds have been obtained in the past.  Arnie H. related that there were three good articles about the LOVIT in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette and Sentinel record in the last few weeks.

Since the LOViT has been extended to the Crystal Springs Recreation Area, Jerry S. requested another set of trail signs be obtained and installed on Hwy 270 at Crystal Springs.

ADA/Watchable Wildlife Trail:
On 9 March 2010, Jerry S., Al G. and Amy S. met with Ms. Kirsten Barlow, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, concerning the information/educational signs to be placed along the ADA/Watchable Wildlife Trail.  The current plan is to have seven educational signs along the ADA trail.  Kirsten provided three Watchable Wildlife highway signs to be displayed, informing the passing motorist of the trail’s availability.  Jerry S. further informed the committee that the display cases have been re-installed under the kiosk and temporary signs have been placed in the display cases.

American Trail Symposium:
Arnie H. proposed that Jerry S. attend the American Trail Symposium, 14-17 November 2010, being held in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Jerry S. stated that although most of the classes were useful, he did not know if it would be beneficial at this point to attend another symposium.

Campgrounds:
Arnie H. related that all the campgrounds re-opened Friday for the Spring/Summer Recreation Season with designated camping loops opened, while other loops remained closed until 1 May, when all the loops will open in the campgrounds.  When a majority of the available campsites are occupied and additional campsites are needed, project personnel will open the additional loops for campers to use.  As the demand diminishes, these same loops will close in order to reduce the need to maintain cleaning/trash collection services in these areas.  Arnie H. also informed the committee that the Crystal Springs Boat Ramp parking lot has been re-striped and the designated parking spots were increased in size to accommodate the larger boats and vehicles.

Pick a Winner:
Arnie H. brought the CFC’s Customer Survey Cards that were distributed last summer.  In discussion, the Committee could not remember whether they were to choose a winner for each lake or just one for the entire area.  Arnie H. stated he will review the minutes when the drawing was discussed and a winner will be chosen based on that decision.

Fisheries:
 
Al G. stated that every member had been sent a copy of the Arkansas Game and Fish (AG&F) Fisheries Management Plan for Lake Ouachita.  The Black Bass Coalition (BBC) is monitoring the AG&F to ensure they are following the proposed plan. Tom Butler stated that before the formation of the Black Bass Coalition, the AG&F were stocking too many stripers in Lake Ouachita.  Since the formation of the BBC, the AG&F have reduced the number of stripers being stocked in Lake Ouachita and have formulated better scientific methods to achieve a balance of the fish stocked.

Al G. requested that Arnie H. write a letter to the AG&F inquiring about the status of the proposed handicapped/ADA fishing pier that was planned at the Twin Creek Recreation Area as part of their agreement with the Corps.  Al G. stated the AG&F Commission are about to start their budget process and this would be a good time to inquire whether the fishing pier has been included in their new budget.  Arnie H. suggested that the CFC write a letter and request Rick Stokes to also write a letter to the AG&F requesting status of the proposed fishing pier.

Jerry S. stated that the AG&F Commission have produced maps indicating the locations of the “Crappie Condo’s” that were placed in Lake Ouachita.  Arnie H. related that both Mena and Mount Ida High Schools are working on the condos and as soon as they have them constructed, arrangements will be made to coordinate the installation of the condos in the lake. Tom B. stated that he sent 25 buckets to the schools for the condos.

Lake Ouachita Cleanup:

Larry R. stated that due to a conflict with a “Cash-For-Trash”, Mr. Adam Robertson, Garland County Beautification Commission, was unable to attend the CFC meeting. Larry R. related that the program at Lake Cumberland also has a “Cash-For-Trash” event and Judy Daulton, Park Ranger, Lake Cumberland will provide a point of contact and the forms they are using for the event this week.

Larry R. stated that the Garland County Beautification Commission are supplying vests, gloves and trash bags for their volunteers. Larry R. also discussed the need to review the various program documents to ensure the CFC has the desired wording in the agreement for the proposed “Adopt-A-Shoreline/Island” program.  Currently, the examples provided include, “Adopt-A-Spot/County Road/Shoreline/Highway”.  Larry R. is concerned about liability issues.  Under the Lake Cumberland program, they have been able to establish corporate sponsorship and receive grant money for their various programs to keep Lake Cumberland clean and litter free.  Arnie H. asked if Lake Cumberland ever has problems with visitors who adopt a shoreline thinking they have ownership to that area. Larry R. stated that Lake Cumberland has not had that problem, but that we need to have that understanding up front with our visitors who adopt an area.

Comments:
Committee members requested the link to the Corps of Engineer webpage be e-mailed to each member. Amy S. stated she would send this out.

New Business:
Jerry S. requested to have the CFC meeting dates moved to another night of the week due to the scheduling conflict with the Montgomery County Quorum Court meetings scheduled for the same night.  After some discussion, the committee decided to move the meetings from the second Monday night of each month to the second Tuesday night of each month, with 7:00 pm being the same start time for the meetings.

Beginning in April, the CFC meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 13th, 7:00 pm.

David D. brought in some picture products of Lake Ouachita given to him from an artist in Utah.  The artist would like the CFC to sell these products. A few of these were placed in the display case at the project office for storage.  No decision was made regarding the sale of these products.

FOLO Financial Report:

Jerry S. provided the financial report as of 28 February, 2010:

Beginning Balance

$12,952.76

Monthly Receipts (bench sponsors)

 $500.00

Monthly Expenditures (Trail Dog dinner)

 $85.13

Monthly Ending Balance

$13,367.63

 

 

Accounts

 

Vista Trail

    Bench Sponsors-$7,519.59

    Grant Matching-$3,578.19

 

 

$11,097.78

Lake Cleanup

 $2,204.81

Miscellaneous

 $200.17

Total

$13,367.63

Adjournment:  The LOCFC adjourned at 8:25 PM.