Funding secured to repair St. Francis Lake erosion

Friday, May 6, 2016

For the last few years, erosion between Ditches 60 and 61 has made it difficult for the St. Francis River Basin to hold water. During the St. Francis Lake Association's annual meeting last November, they heard from representatives with the U.S. Corps of Engineers who said the only thing holding up the repair of the washout was funding, which would cost several million dollars. At the time, Regina Kuykendoll Cash, Supervisory Civil Engineer with the Memphis District of the Corps, told those gathered that the Corps has a limited budget for maintenance projects but that she had tried to be a voice for the district to get funding. Now, it seems the funding has been approved and repair work may finally be a step closer to getting underway.

SFLA member and Trumann Chamber of Commerce Director Neal Vickers said he had received a call from the engineer on the project who indicated they had received the necessary funding. "I verified it with our contact in the Corps of Engineers, Regina Kuykendoll Cash," Vickers said. "Her words were: the contract will be awarded in late summer or early fall. From what I can tell, it will be a big a project."

According to Mark Mazzone, Operations Project Manager with the Corps of Engineers, the repair will involve plugging the washout at Ditch 61 with large stones and fixing the gravel road between Dam 10 and Ditch 61 to have a uniform grade around elevation 212.

The inability to hold water due to the washout has taken a toll on recent hunting seasons in the St. Francis River Basin. Vickers has also proposed promoting the St. Francis River Basin as part of a water trail to bring in more tourism. Getting the washout repaired would greatly help both of those.

Vickers credited Congressman Rick Crawford with being a huge asset in securing the funding. "I can't say enough for Rick Crawford. He was very instrumental in originating this process at the Washington level to get the Memphis district the funding," Vickers said. "He was responsible for initiating the funding process for us and pursuing it from beginning to end."

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