Sugar Creek Water Trail Restoration (HELP!)

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tomOzarkVideo
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Sugar Creek Water Trail Restoration (HELP!)

Post by tomOzarkVideo » Mon Aug 11, 2014 7:26 pm

We have an opportunity to come together as a club and do one of the things that we are here for!

After months and months of emails, phone calls, film screenings, demonstrative paddle trips, more emails, meetings….etc;
Greg Van Horn finally has the ears, eyes and hearts of the Bentonville City Council aimed in our favor.

The aldermen are (tentatively) ready to present a restoration plan to the Mayor, that could possibly replace Lake Bella Vista with a community garden/trail enhancement/rain garden… and most importantly a FREE FLOWING Sugar Creek to go with it. :crossed:

Now for the help part. We need help with consultant, design firm, trail designers, non profits or whatever force can help to get a real, viable plan in place to make this a reality.

The battle is almost won on this… lets make it happen.
"My favorite rapid was Boogie Water" - kru

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tomOzarkVideo
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Re: Sugar Creek Water Trail Restoration (HELP!)

Post by tomOzarkVideo » Mon Aug 11, 2014 8:16 pm

We want to make sure that this is an aesthetic upgrade for the local citizens. A win win win.
"My favorite rapid was Boogie Water" - kru

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Re: Sugar Creek Water Trail Restoration (HELP!)

Post by greg vanhorn » Mon Aug 11, 2014 8:27 pm

upstream after dam release.JPG
This letter and pictures were sent to the City of Bentonville. It is intended to counter the "historical" importance of Lake Bella Vista and instead support the benefits of Little Sugar Creek. Recently, there was an extremely bad algae infestation that nearly covered the entire lake. The City opened the gates and released the algae downstream.
Both Ward 1 Aldermen in the City of Bentonville are interested in a plan that will allow our waterway to run free!a
We are making headway!

Whether a new dam is built to replace the failed Lake Bella Vista dam or Little Sugar Creek is restored and allowed to run free will have a profound effect on the largest watershed in this part of Northwest Arkansas, and also on our community as a whole.

A growing number of people believe the best answer for our waterway is the natural answer – a free-flowing, Ozark waterway. There are, of course, differing points of view on this issue, which is all the more reason to give our democratic process an opportunity to work.

Bentonville’s City Council has had ample opportunity to meet with and hear from "pro-dam" representatives, but I'm not aware of any meetings to discuss the benefits associated with a free-flowing waterway.

If all facts were fully presented, public opinion would overwhelmingly support a waterway restoration plan for Little Sugar Creek – and not a dam reconstruction plan. We are blessed to have a clear, clean, spring-fed waterway running through our community! That kind of natural wonder is rare and is the true history of the Ozarks.

Lake Bella Vista was created in 1915, when a poorly-engineered dam was constructed to quickly and cheaply create a lake to support a real estate development. That effort failed, and the owners sold the property less than two years later. Its new owners raised the dam slightly and began work on a resort in 1917.

In 1921, a flood overtopped and nearly destroyed the dam. The new resort's dance hall, dining hall, and several other structures suffered severe damage.

By 1925, guests were complaining that the water in the lake had become murky and was no longer suitable for swimming. The resort owners responded by building a swimming pool just north of the lake – an alternative to a lake no one wanted to swim in.

In an attempt to generate interest in the resort in the 1930s, its owners created a brochure that promoted the lake as a great fishing destination. The owners failed to disclose that they had had to catch fish downstream for the brochure's photographs. Because the dam had blocked fish migration, small-mouth bass populations had plummeted and the lake was "fished out."

Over the next 20 years, Little Sugar Creek would rise quickly during the Ozarks’ frequent heavy rains. The dam trapped large trees, silt and debris floating downstream. The Linebarger Bros., owners of the resort since 1917, finally sold the property in 1952.

By this time, the lake had silted up, and its new owner, E.L. Keith, had to deepen the lake – then known as “Lake Keith” – for boating activities. (He still found it necessary to modernize the swimming pool.) Keith also constructed a new hotel. Ultimately unsuccessful, it was sold and became a boarding school. After 13 years of frustration, Keith sold the lake and surrounding property to John Cooper, Sr.

Cooper, effectively, abandoned the lake and the old resort and developed “New Bella Vista” to the north of the lake. Cooper could have invested more money in Lake Bella Vista and the dam on Little Sugar Creek, but he recognized the mistakes of his predecessors. He had also learned that lakes receive much more effluence from floodwaters when they are located lower in the valleys and on larger creeks – as is Lake Bella Vista – instead of higher up in the valleys and on smaller streams. That is why the other six lakes in Bella Vista are located higher and on smaller streams than Little Sugar Creek.

Cooper Communities, Inc. (successor to John Cooper, Sr.) didn't want to retain the potential liability of a poorly-constructed dam, but also didn't want to expend the resources to make the dam safe either. The Bella Vista POA declined to take over the lake. Cooper finally convinced the Trail Blazers Association to take ownership of the lake and the surrounding land. The Trail Blazers Association then "gifted" it to the City of Bentonville.

In 2008, after more heavy storms and another dam overtopping, the dam was finally classified as a “failed” dam by the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, listing the cause of failure as “hydrologic deficiencies and faulty material.”[1] Since 2008, the dam has been overtopped more than six times. Dam overtopping is the number one cause of catastrophic dam failure. The dam was overtopped three times in 2013 alone!

Since long before Little Sugar Creek was first dammed in 1915, Northwest Arkansas has attracted visitors because of its springs and flowing waterways and not because of this shallow man-made reservoir. And history has proven that the dam was a mistake. It was not built to generate power or control flooding. It was built to create a lake that might attract real estate investment and holiday travelers, and it was ultimately an economic and ecological failure. The “new” Bella Vista is a resort community despite Lake Bella Vista – not because of it.

Allowing Little Sugar Creek to follow its natural path would:

● allow opportunities for developments such as river walks, water gardens, and walking bridges;

● eliminate harmful algae blooms, which de-oxygenate water and kill aquatic animals and plants;

● create new, varied opportunities for family recreation – float fishing, paddling, canoeing, kayaking; and

● recreate a living, flowing, spring-fed Ozark waterway!

The days of dam building in the Ozarks are decades behind us. The porous limestone in this area necessitates deep (and expensive) footers for safe dams. The cost of building and maintaining a safe dam for the sole purpose of re-creating a recreational lake that was never successful is a waste of community resources – and not just tax dollars. A failed dam has deprived four generations of Arkansans and our visitors of the beauty and recreational possibilities of an Ozark stream that was created over thousands of years.

I appreciate your interest and your concern. Allowing Little Sugar Creek to run will have a long-term positive impact on our community.
Below is a link[2] to a short video about towns that were faced with similar situations with dams that are past their useful life. The photos were taken on July 23rd and then on July 26th after the flood gates of the dam were opened to send the algae infestation downstream. The photos show that Little Sugar Creek still lives beneath this reservoir.

Thank you,

Greg Van Horn
Attachments
Upstream end of Lake Bella Vista before dam release.JPG
upstream after dam release.JPG

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Canoe_Codger
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Re: Sugar Creek Water Trail Restoration (HELP!)

Post by Canoe_Codger » Mon Aug 11, 2014 8:47 pm

I have little to offer but my heartfelt thanks to those who have struggled for a long time to make this opportunity possible.

If the restoration and attendant park improvements become reality, the local residents will indeed be winners. There will be a new destination close at hand for healthy recreation, a perfect replacement for a failed developer's project which resulted in a white elephant, a fetid green lagoon where swimming was not only ill-advised, but forbidden by ordinance.

Then we get to the health of the watershed and the creek itself. Restoration of the creek to it's natural flow will provide a lot of habitat for indigenous stream life. I predict that since nature abhors a vaccume, the fish, mollusks and other creatures which belong there will inhabit it in short order. Who does not remember chasing minnows and crawdads in a clear cool creek as a child in the Ozarks? I certainly do. And I hope that my children's children have that opportunity. Thanks Greg. And thanks Tom.

Michael

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Re: Sugar Creek Water Trail Restoration (HELP!)

Post by panicman » Tue Aug 12, 2014 12:36 pm

Looks like a nice mosiquito breeding area. throw that out there also with all the west nile and stuff going around

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Re: Sugar Creek Water Trail Restoration (HELP!)

Post by Deuce » Wed Aug 13, 2014 10:21 am

Way to go, guys! Tom, what kind of help are you looking for exactly?
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Re: Sugar Creek Water Trail Restoration (HELP!)

Post by Smo_Off » Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:17 pm

Has the anyone reached out to Illinois Watershed Project.
My Favorite River is the one that I'm paddling.

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Re: Sugar Creek Water Trail Restoration (HELP!)

Post by greg vanhorn » Wed Aug 13, 2014 8:52 pm

I have not talked to anyone at in Illinois Watershed, but it might not hurt. There are so many agencies and organizations that could probably lend support to this. Since Little Sugar Creek and Big Sugar Creek are in the Elk Watershed, a citizens group might be interested since dams are harmful to watersheds. We are going to need all the support we can get.

At this point, we have support from two of the eight Aldermen on the City of Bentonville City Council. Both are from Ward 1 where the park and dam are located. Our most recent support is coming from Alderman John Skaggs, formerly Judge John Skaggs. He believes that a plan or design will attract others to this and has expressed interest in presenting a plan and/or design to our pro-dam mayor, Bob McCaslin.

Thank you for you interest in this important issue. If we don't try to conserve places like this, we won't have them to enjoy the activities that we love.

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Re: Sugar Creek Water Trail Restoration (HELP!)

Post by Smo_Off » Wed Aug 13, 2014 9:11 pm

Thanks Greg for the info
I have a couple contacts to reach out to about this.
My Favorite River is the one that I'm paddling.

Cory

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Re: Sugar Creek Water Trail Restoration (HELP!)

Post by tomOzarkVideo » Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:23 am

Deuce wrote:Way to go, guys! Tom, what kind of help are you looking for exactly?
Most of all, we need some organization or group to step in and help with a vision for rain garden, community garden or some other amenity that could bring a positive change to this location.

And by help, I mean the organization would hire someone that designs this kind of stuff and put a real plan together.

I know that we are in no position to ask the WFF for anything. But, there are more amenity focused groups than the WFF in NWA.. right?

This is right next to the greenway too. I'm not sure if that sparks any ideas.
"My favorite rapid was Boogie Water" - kru

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Re: Sugar Creek Water Trail Restoration (HELP!)

Post by Deuce » Thu Aug 14, 2014 8:06 am

Has anyone contacted Master Gardeners? http://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/master-gardeners/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Sugar Creek Water Trail Restoration (HELP!)

Post by Half Ton » Thu Aug 14, 2014 8:00 pm

AWESOME WORK Greg ant Tom!!!!!!

Watershed Conservation Resource Center is who you want http://www.watershedconservation.org/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; They do the best stream restorations in the state.
"The challenge goes on. There are other lands and rivers, other wilderness areas, to save and to share with all. I challenge you to step forward to protect and care for the wild places you love best"

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Re: Sugar Creek Water Trail Restoration (HELP!)

Post by greg vanhorn » Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:44 pm

John,
Thank you! I will contact the WCRC tomorrow. I'm excited that Alderman Skaggs has requested a plan for stream restoration on Little Sugar Creek. It seems obvious that we needed a plan, but I wasn't sure when or if we'd actually get a strong supporter on the Council. We still have a long way to go. There will be differing viewpoints, which is all the more reason to discuss the issue and let democracy function. We have some young, mountain biking enthusiasts that are running for City Council in Bentonville this November. I'm hoping they also like creeks!

With John Skaggs on the City Council, I just don't think the City of Bentonville will re-build this dam without reviewing the natural plan of letting the creek run free. His background as the District Judge carries too much gravitas.

I just read that the average dam costs 95 percent more than estimated to complete and takes 44 percent longer to build than estimated. I think the numbers are in our favor on a stream restoration plan.

I'm excited that we have a local resource for this. Float on!

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Re: Sugar Creek Water Trail Restoration (HELP!)

Post by Deuce » Fri Aug 15, 2014 7:56 am

You guys are rock stars. :clap:
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Re: Sugar Creek Water Trail Restoration (HELP!)

Post by tomOzarkVideo » Fri Aug 15, 2014 9:28 am

Deuce wrote:You guys are rock stars. :clap:
Greg is the rock star on this one. So far, I've only been good for suggestions and moral support.
"My favorite rapid was Boogie Water" - kru

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