A public meeting to discuss suggested changes to the Lake Conway Water Level Management Plan is scheduled for Thursday, March 20, in Conway.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Faulkner County Natural Resources Center conference room.  The center is at 110 South Amity Road in Conway; about a mile north of Exit 129 off I-40.

Fisheries and wildlife biologists with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will discuss and gather public input on changes to the management plan for Lake Conway.  The changes include small discharges from the lake to irrigate moist-soil units in the Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area’s Palarm Creek Waterfowl Rest Area.

The Lake Conway Water Level Management Plan is a document that mandates: (1) how the lake’s spillway gates are operated to manage flood events, (2) what pool elevations the lake is to be managed at annually, (3) who is responsible for monitoring and managing the lake’s water level, and (4) provides restrictions for releases of water into the Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area needed for waterfowl habitat management. The plan was adopted in 1976 and revised in 2003.

Lake manager Matt Horton said, “Due to changes downstream of the Lake Conway dam and completion of a 2013 hydrology report, it is now necessary to make changes to the plan to ensure the lake’s water level is managed in the most efficient way possible to ensure the safety of adjacent landowners, health of the lake’s fishery, and management of downstream waterfowl habitat.

A PowerPoint presentation will be presented at the meeting by Horton, and will cover the history of water level management on Lake Conway, results of the 2013 hydrology study including recommendations for alternative spillway designs, and an overview of changes that are planned in 2014, which includes less restrictive spillway gate operations.  

Wildlife Management biologists will explain recent changes made to Bell Slough WMA to enhance waterfowl habitat and will explain the need for the small discharges for irrigating moist-soil units in Bell Slough for waterfowl habitat management. Public comments regarding the proposed plan will be received, then a final draft will be presented to AGFC’s administration.  

Horton said, “We hope people will take advantage of this opportunity to learn about the changes to the lake’s water level management and provide their comments in this important decision making process.  If you have any questions about the meeting, contact me at 877-470-3309, ext. 1212.”