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Dry Run Creek Ribbon Cutting

Dry Run Creek Ribbon Cutting April 10, 2010

Young and mobility impaired anglers had already been fishing Dry Run Creek for weeks when the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was held. But it was pleasant spring day for the all who attended.
There were dignitaries from the Baxter County government, from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

DRC In-Stream Work Starts - September 9, 2009

Tons of boulders were delivered to the hatchery in July. But they just sat there. Until September 9, 2009 when Tim Burnley, AGFC's Manager for Trout Habitat, and his crew showed up. Along with a huge track hoe and a beatup ex-US Army 5 ton truck. They were ready to go. And go they did!


The work started at the upper end of the creek.


DRC Bank Stabilization Complete - October 1, 2009

During September 2009, the AGFC crew completed the bank stabilzation part of the in-stream work. No further in-stream work could be done after October 1 because of the brown trout spawn in Dry Run Creek. The habitat improvement work remains to be completed. The AGFC plans to start the habitat improvement on March 1, 2010

During the past year there has been a lot of activity on the Dry Run Creek Project. This project was initially proposed, and requested by Ken Boyles, the Manager of the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. The hatchery owns and is responsible for land by which Dry Run Creek is accessed. He was concerned by the erosion on the stream bank and slopes caused by fishermen as they try to take shortcuts to the creek side.  In 2007 the main activity for the Dry Run Creek Project was fund raising. By January, 2008, the Friends of the Norfork National Fish Hatchery had raised about $25K.


Dave Whitlock's Plan for Dry Run Creek Enhancements - 2008


In January the Friends submitted a proposal for a Challenge Grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  When an organization receives a Challenge Grant, USFWS agrees to match 1 for 1 any money spent by the receiving organization or match in dollars labor expended by volunteers or for contributions received in kind. The Friends had high hopes for this proposal. It was rejected by the USFWS. Fund raising continued. In March, Overlook Estates lawsuit was settled. Parts of the settlement included funds for local organizations to use to enhance the watershed of the Norfork River. The Friends made a proposal for Dry Run Creek. They were awarded $50K! The Friends currently have $72.5K in its budget for the project.


In the meantime, certain members of the local fly fishing community raised concerns about the initial proposal to extend the boardwalk up the complete length of Dry Run Creek.  They felt that such a board walk would impact the “wildness” of the creek and reduce the fishing experience for kids. Others were not even certain if handicapped access should be an issue! There were informal meetings with some of these individuals. 


As a result of the issues raised in these meeting and from others in the community, the Friends decided to hire Dave Whitlock as a consultant on the project. Dave, in addition to his skills as writer, fly tyer, and conservationist, is a professional designer of trout stream habitat improvements.  The Friends felt that Dave’s involvement and expertise would both greatly improve the results and would allay many of the concerns about the project.


During the week of June 2nd, Dave Whitlock visited Dry Run Creek to form an assessment. He made an analysis based on two items: how can we improve habitat at the creek for the benefit of the trout and invertebrate organisms; and what structure can we add to control erosion and any further shoreline degradation?


The spring floods resulted in large amounts of silt, gravel and rock being deposited in the stream bed resulting in the loss of depth and suitable habitat. The plan of action to improve the resources at Dry Run Creek is: to introduce rock structure to back-up stream water, to increase depth where levels are way below that which is suitable habitat for trout and to remove from the creek gravel and rock to widen and increase depth within the existing stream bed. This would provide the resources for both the fish and the angler use of the creek.


Rock structure would be staged bank side to eliminate any further erosion and backfilled both with the removed gravel from the creek and soil. This will enhance growth of vegetation and cover the exposed tree roots to reduce the loss of more trees. We will also provide a walkway from the lower to the mid- point upstream.


The lower end of the creek will see the resources for handicap access constructed both from rock wall and lumber constructed boardwalk.


In all there are 11 sites along the creek that were determined to provide the best options for in-stream habitat work to be undertaken. This will be subject to the survey work by the AGFC that will provide the information for stream water levels and location of stream structure.


AGFC has completed the survey work. Once this data is massaged, Dave Whitlock will be able to work from the data and provide a detailed plan of action. This plan will include artwork to demonstrate what we will achieve with DRC.


The current plan is to perform the first state of the restoration and stream access work near the existing handicapped access area.  After the handicapped area is in good shape, further work will be performed from the upper end of the creek down.  The process may result in some additional work at the lower end of the creek, but we felt that we need to have something positive to show for everyone’s contribution and efforts early on. Actual work will start after Dave Whitlock completes his planning. At that time there will be plenty of need for volunteer workers!


In late August, as all of this was happening, the Fish and Wildlife Service contacted Ken Boyles and said “By the way, we have a spare $32.5K Challenge Grant for you!"


The Dry Run Creek project will be accomplished through a collaboration of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Friends of the Norfork National Fish Hatchery and its members, other members of the community.