More than 40 trees felled by a January windstorm have a second life as cover for crappie, bass and other fish, thanks to the efforts of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a volunteer student from Calico Rock High School.
According to the AGFC website, Cody Wyatt, fisheries habitat biologist for the commission, said the Corps called the AGFC to see if it would be interested in the project. While checking on docks following the storm, Corps members had discovered several uprooted trees, some of which were blocking access to docks and roads.
“We’ve worked together on many habitat projects in the past, so they gave us a call to see if we could make the best out of a bad situation,” Wyatt said. “The trees could be used to help anglers and fish instead of them going to waste being drug into the woods or burned. It was a no brainer.”
On Feb. 6, three staff from the AGFC’s Mountain Home office, eight from the Corps and a student from Calico Rock High School joined forces to clear the trees with chainsaws, haul the trees to shore with tractors and then sink them using concrete blocks after boats dragged them into position.
Thanks to an ample supply of materials at the AGFC’s Mountain Home office and the teamwork of the 12 workers, the project only took two-and-a half-days, including preparation.
“We are always sinking cover of some sort in our lakes to help anglers have locations to fish, so rounding up the concrete blocks and our special habitat barge was pretty simple,” Wyatt said.
The habitat barge has a rearward-facing outboard that enables it to pull heavier loads than most boats while remaining level in the water.
“We had quite a few cedars that were 10 to 14 inches in diameter, and even one that reached 17 inches; that’s a pretty good chunk of a tree,” Wyatt said. “Without that barge, there’s no way we could have pulled some of those trees into place without cutting them into smaller pieces.”
Feb 5, 2020 - All of the trees were placed in eight new fish attractor locations. GPS coordinates will be added to the 193 other Norfork Lake attractors on the AGFC’s interactive map at www.agfc.com/maps.