Monthly Archives: July 2012

July 15th, 2012 – Van Hollow on Beaver Lake

Back in May, Steve Patterson and I were working on a project to construct floating wetland islands in Lake Fayetteville. Steve is a restoration ecologist from Poteau, Oklahoma. We have a lot in common because Steve conducts the source water protection program for the Poteau Valley Industrial Authority on Lake Wister near Poteau. Steve had a copy of the University of Arkansas’ Graduate Discovery magazine that had on the cover a photo of a cove in Beaver Lake surrounded by bluffs. He wondered if I knew where the photo was taken. I replied that I didn’t know for sure, but had a few ideas. Thus began the search for the photo. June 30 we visited Hogscald hollow. Hogscald was spectacular, but it wasn’t the site of the photo. My second guess of the locale was Van Hollow so we scheduled a trip.

Thad Scott, a limnologist or lake scientist, also joined us on the trip to Van Hollow. Most of my outings to Beaver Lake are either by myself, or with my wife, Sharon, so this trip was special. I was excited to have the chance to listen to two experts discuss the lake. We met at my house 6 a.m. so we could get an early start. The boats were loaded and we were on the road at 6:15 a.m. By 7:10 a.m., we were at the put in ready to go. A lone canoe was paddling up the lake toward the launch. He pulled in and started loading his canoe on his truck. I guess early is a relative term.

Van Hollow on Beaver Lake is a land of cracks, crevices and caves. This is a good example of Karst terrain.

Van Hollow is mid-lake so this trip was out of my regular routine of working down lake from the headwaters. The Hobbs Estate State Park and Conservation Area surrounds the hollow. Van Hollow is named for Peter Van Winkle who moved into the hollow in 1851 and started a sawmill. According to the Friends of Hobbs website, Roscoe Hobbs and his Ozark Land and Lumber Company acquired 12,500 acres from the Van Winkle family in 1912. Mr. Hobbs’ goal was to use the second growth timber on the property to make railroad ties. Through several iterations of the lumber company, Hobbs conducted timber operations on the property into the 1960s. He was, according to the report on the website, a good steward of the land. In the 1970s, the Hobbs’ property became available for purchase. A consortium of 22 Northwest Arkansas banks and The Nature Conservancy came together to purchase the land and put it into a trust until the State of Arkansas could put together finances to complete the purchase. In 1979, the Hobbs Estate State Park and Conservation Area was formed. Thus we are blessed with several miles of protected shoreline along Beaver Lake.

Van Hollow on Beaver Lake is a land of cracks, crevices and caves. This is a good example of Karst terrain.

Thad, Steve, Sharon and I took off down lake. The water was very clear. The water surface elevation was 1114.7, almost 12 feet down from its high for 2012. Although the day was predicted to be hot, the morning temperature was low enough that Sharon donned her jacket for a while. The conversation quickly turned to periphyton, phytoplankton, zooplankton, nutrient uptake, assimilation, internal nutrient loading, nitrogen fixation and such. I commented that the lake water felt warm. We paddled on, Steve and Thad delving deeper and deeper into lake process, Sharon and I watching out for submerged logs.

During the morning, we explored several coves. Van Hollow is a land of cracks and crevices. Rocks and low bluffs surrounded each hollow. Caves were numerous. At one cave, we found point G on the Aquatics Trail. I wondered where points A through F were. With the lake so low, it was difficult to identify birds and plants. I heard Pileated and Red Headed Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Indigo Buntings, and a Red Tail Hawk. At one point, two King Fishers came out of the forest making a racket. One of them left while the other returned to the same spot in the forest. At another point in the back of a cove, the air was full of bird song, most of which I did not know. We couldn’t get close enough to make visual identification.

At 10 a.m., we were nearing the mouth of Van Hollow. It was starting to get hot. We decided to head for the truck. As we started up the cove, we heard a boat approaching from down lake. It was a fairly large ski boat, the kind with speakers the size of a suitcase on a bar overhead. There were five people in the boat and two wake boarders being towed behind. As they passed, we turned the bow of our canoes into the wake to prevent being capsized. These were the biggest waves that I have had to deal with on Beaver. They were bigger than the largest standing waves on the Buffalo River. Our boats bobbed for a couple of minutes and we headed on. Then the ski boat turned around.

A rational mind can be annoying at times. I was really irritated at the boat for disturbing our peaceful outing and making such a big wake. And I wanted to hang on to my irritation. Then as I stewed, I thought that here was a family, together, on an outing, enjoying Beaver Lake. We all have our ways to appreciate lakes. There are 27,000 acres in Beaver Lake. That is plenty of room to share. Besides, skiers rarely get on the lake before 10 a.m. so there is plenty of time to enjoy the lake before they get up.

At 11 a.m. we arrived back at our truck. We were on the lake just shy of four hours. Google Earth says we paddled about 7 miles. Almost all of it was within the state park. We didn’t find the photo spot. I guess that means more trips.

Governor Beebe has declared July to be “Lake Appreciation Month” in Arkansas. To celebrate, I pledge to make at least one more trip to Beaver during July.

July Proclaimed Lake Appreciation Month

On June 20, 2012, Governor Mike Beebe proclaimed July, 2012 as Lake Appreciation Month, encouraging all Arkansans to participate in recreational activities and to enjoy the benefits and scenic beauty of the State’s more than 2, 400 named lakes and reservoirs larger than five acres. Governor Beebe also recognized the importance of protecting these lakes and reservoirs for future generations. As one of the largest lakes in Arkansas, Beaver Lake falls within the scope of those addressed by Governor Beebe’s proclamation. Its goals mirror those highlighted in the official proclamation. Download the proclamation here.

The Beaver Watershed Alliance (The Alliance) was formed in 2010 to establish programming to maintain high quality drinking water in Beaver Lake and improve water quality on the Beaver Lake Watershed.  The Alliance represents a diverse stakeholder group from conservation, education, water utilities, technical and science, business, and local government groups working together for the cause of clean water.

The Beaver Lake watershed is 1,192 square miles in area, and primarily includes portions of Benton, Carroll, Madison, and Washington counties along with 17 incorporated municipalities.  A small portion of the watershed is located in Crawford and Franklin counties to the south.  The lake itself is approximately 44 square miles in surface area, extends approximately 50 miles end-to-end, and has an average depth of 60 feet throughout.

Water quality in Beaver Lake is good, and The Alliance is working proactively to protect it from degradation.  Priority issues affecting water quality on the watershed and in the lake include:

  • Quantity and quality of runoff from new development and construction
  • Degradation of streamside vegetation and stream channels
  • Potential for nutrient pollution and erosion from unmanaged streamside pastures
  • Sedimentation in runoff from unimproved/gravel roads

Major streams in the watershed include the East, Middle, and West Forks of the White River, War Eagle Creek, Richland Creek, and Brush Creek.  These tributaries contribute clean, abundant water for drinking, recreation, industry, power generation and of course the breathtaking scenery that makes our area’s “quality of place” so high.   The Alliance encourages all citizens to recognize Governor Beebe’s Proclamation of July 2012 as Lake Appreciation Month and to take to heart his encouragement to enjoy the recreational activities and scenic beauty of our water resources by planning their personal water activities at Beaver Lake during the month of July.

For more information on the Governor’s Proclamation see attached document. For more information on The Beaver Watershed Alliance, contact Jason Kindall, Executive Director, at 479.966.9391 or

Join the Fun at Secchi Day on August 18th at Beaver Lake!

New activities are in store for the 7th annual Secchi Day on Beaver Lake, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18, at Prairie Creek, five miles east of Rogers on Hwy. 12. Expect to spend time at the mobile aquarium learning about fish and be prepared to have your knowledge of water science challenged as you take part in the onshore scavenger hunt!

“We’re really excited about this year’s event,” said Amy Wilson, Director of Public Affairs for Beaver Water District. “Two new additions include the mobile aquarium, thanks to one of our new partners — the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission — and a fun scavenger hunt with prizes. Participants will visit educational vendors and find clues to water questions that are posed by Randy the Frog and Castor the Beaver. The scavenger hunt is based on an activity we host at the District’s Water Education Center and also on our website and in our K-12 school curriculum. We’ll have Randy and Castor stickers for children, collapsible water bottles, Beaver Lake tattoos, totes, lunch for the first several hundred people, pontoon boat rides, bird walks, rain garden and stream ecology. It’s going to be great!”

 Secchi Day on Beaver Lake, organized by the District and 10 partner organizations, is named for the Secchi disk, a black and white device lowered into the water to measure clarity. In the early part of the morning, citizen science volunteers, using their own boats, will collect water samples and take Secchi disk readings. They will bring their samples and clarity readings in to shore where they will be recorded with great fanfare, something along the lines of a weigh-in at a fishing tournament. Dan Skoff, KNWA’s Chief Meteorologist, will serve as emcee. For more information, call Amy at 479-717-3807, visit, or visit the event on Facebook.

Audubon Arkansas, Beaver Water District, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Beaver Lake, the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Hobbs State Park, Arkansas Master Naturalists, the Association for Beaver Lake Environment, Beaver Watershed Alliance, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, and Ozarks Water Watch are co-sponsors of Secchi Day on Beaver Lake.

Beaver Water District supplies drinking water to more than 300,000 people and industries in Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville and surrounding areas. The District’s mission is to serve our customers’ needs by providing high quality drinking water that meets or exceeds all regulatory requirements and is economically priced consistent with our quality standards.

Board Meeting-July 19, 2012

Beaver Water District’s Board of Directors will meet at noon on Thursday, July 19, 2012, at 301 N. Primrose Road, Lowell, AR 72745.

 Tentative Agenda

 Meeting Call to Order

  1. Approval of minutes of previous regular meeting
  2. Presentation – StreamSmart Program
  3. Presentation – Effects of Drought Conditions – Community and the District
  4. Discussion – Joining Fair Water Users Coalition
  5. Recommendation – FY 2013 Personnel Budget
  6. Other Business

Aug. 7th Rain Garden Academy for Educators

The Illinois River Partnership, in partnership with Beaver Water District, is offering 6 hours of professional development through the Arkansas Department of Education for attendance at its Rain Garden Academy for Educators from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7th, at Holt Middle School, 2365 Rupple Road, in Fayetteville, AR. The workshop will cover watershed education, rain graden introduction including installation and management, classroom teaching strategies, hands-on training and more. To register, call 479-215-6623 or email Download a flyer here.