MAYFLOWER — Anglers on Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir will again see improved infrastructure to help them navigate its waters safely with a new phase of boat lane renovations later this month. Contractors working with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will use a specially modified barge to cut stumps under the water’s surface that have posed navigational hazards for decades and given the lake the nickname “Ol’ Stumpy,” from its anglers.
Matt Horton, habitat biologist at the AGFC’s Mayflower office, says this year’s work will expand on the boat lane renovations completed last year when contractors widened a 4-mile stretch of trail along the west side of the lake, moving the old boat lane farther away from the shoreline.
“There were places where the boat lane brought people within 100 feet of piers and boathouses, which could make for a dangerous situation,” Horton said. “We had the contractor cut entirely new paths on some parts of the trail to straighten it out and make it safer.”
The stumps are located using forward-facing sonar, and the barge’s underwater saw cuts them about 1 foot from the lake bed or 10 feet deep, whichever is deepest. At this depth, whatever remains is too low to reach the hulls and motors of passing boats.
Horton hopes another 4 to 6 miles of boat lanes can be cleared this spring, this time focusing on the boat trail that runs along the east side of the lake and four lanes that cross the lake.
“The total distance covered will depend on just how many stumps need to be cleared from the old lanes,” Horton said. “We won’t be clearing any new sections of lanes this year, so we are optimistic that we will be able to complete our goal.”
In addition to removing the stumps, contractors will replace the aging metal lane markers with new highly visible PVC poles.
“The PVC poles are easier to see than the old metal posts and don’t create a boating hazard if they fall over in the lake or are struck by a boat,” Horton said. “We received a lot of positive feedback from anglers who used the new section of boat lane and it appears the markers have stood up well to boat traffic and weather over the past year, so we plan to continue using the same materials for renovating the remaining boat lanes. As funding becomes available, we plan to continue renovating sections of the boat lanes until all 24 miles of boat lanes on Conway are completed.”
Horton advises anglers to be cautious when driving in the boat lanes from April 26-May 1, as AGFC and contractor boats will be working within the boat lanes. During this time, newly marked boat lanes could still have stumps and old metal boat lane markers within them as the boat lanes have to be marked prior to stump removal and removal of the old lane markers. Buoys may be placed within the section of boat lane being renovated to provide additional caution to boaters. Call the Fisheries Office in Mayflower at 877-470-3309 for more information.