(Courtesy of Beaver Watershed Alliance)
July 2019 has been proclaimed by Governor Asa Hutchinson as Lakes Appreciation Month in Arkansas. With over a half-million acres of reservoirs in Arkansas, summer is a great time to encourage all Arkansans to appreciate the lakes of our Natural State. By participating in recreation and stewardship activities, we can all enjoy and contribute back to support the benefits provided by our lakes, including drinking water for much of the state, as well as community and economic growth.
In addition to Lakes Appreciation Month being a time to appreciate lakes, it is a time to think about where we would be without high-quality water, and the importance of partnerships to protect natural resources from threats such as excess sediment and nutrients and invasive plant and animal species that put stress on waterbodies. The importance of protecting these lakes and reservoirs for future generations is critical to our quality of life, communities, wildlife, and potential for future growth and economic development, not only in Northwest Arkansas but across the state.
Letters of support for Lakes Appreciation Month have been signed by the Beaver Water District, American Water Works Association- Arkansas Chapter, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Hobbs State Park Conservation Area, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, Lake Fayetteville Watershed Partnership, and Central Arkansas Water. Beaver Lake, one of the largest lakes in Arkansas, is the drinking water source for over 500,000 people in the NWA region.
The Beaver Lake watershed (area of land that drains to Beaver Lake) is 1,192 square miles of land and water, including rivers, streams, lakes, prairies, and forests, and is home to 17 incorporated municipalities. The landscape is woven together geographically by the White River, with the headwaters starting in the southern portions of Washington County and western parts of Madison County, flowing northerly into Benton and Carroll counties to form the lake. Beaver Lake also generates 142 million kilowatt hours annually for energy consumption and brings over $43 million to the local economy through recreation and tourism.
Lakes Appreciation Month is a signature program of the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) whose mission is to foster the management and protection of lakes and reservoirs for today and tomorrow. Many free, public, outdoor activities, including canoeing and kayaking on local lakes, volunteer monitoring programs, stewardship cleanups, and a rain barrel workshop, will be happening throughout the month of July.
Visit www.beaverwatershedalliance.org or call 479-750-8007 for more information and to RSVP for events. To learn more about the national Lakes Appreciation program, visit www.nalms.org. The Beaver Watershed Alliance is formed of a diverse stakeholder group representing agricultural, recreation, conservation, water utility, business, and private landowner perspectives who all work together for the benefit of Beaver Lake and its watershed.