The second annual Beaver Lake Volunteer Day (BLVD) saw a significant increase in participants as well as opportunities for volunteering. Last year the inaugural event combined the water education festival of Secchi Day, the Beaver Lake Cleanup, and full release of the Secchi Day data analysis to all those who volunteered to protect Beaver Lake. The combined event was moved to October to be part of the regional “Pick Up Where You Play” NWA series of litter clean ups in conjunction with hopes of cooler temperatures. [Extreme heat had become an issue with the previously separate events happening in August and September.] The second year of the event saw the number of volunteers double and has helped recruit new teams for the Secchi Day data collection.
Some have asked why we call it “Volunteer Day” and not just a cleanup? Trish Ouei, Director of Public Affairs at Beaver Water District said, “The partnering organizations realize that there are so many ways to give back to Beaver Lake. It is not just about celebrating the Secchi Day and litter clean up volunteers; growing other volunteer opportunities is a goal as well.” This year, two new volunteer opportunities were added for special groups of volunteers. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission worked with a group of volunteers from the NWA Water Young Professionals organizations to remove invasive cedar trees from Bear Island and turn them into fish attractors/structures. These attractors provide shelter for the fish and aids anglers with locating fish. (Interested anglers can download fish habitat structure coordinates at www.agfc.com/fishing/where-to-fish/fish-attractors.) The NWA Master Naturalist chapter participated in the educational festival as usual, and also brought out extra volunteers to help revitalize and give some much-needed TLC to the bioswale and rain gardens at Prairie Creek recreational area. These Master Naturalists will come out again in the spring to replant these areas with native vegetation that benefit the water quality of the lake by slowing down runoff and removing pollutants.
Matthew Rich, Environmental Specialist with BWD, spoke about results and data from Secchi Day with the numerous participants at BLVD. Secchi Day boat teams were invited to attend BLVD to hear the lake wide Secchi Day measurements and water analysis results from the 18th annual data collection day. It is not just Secchi depths that are recorded on Secchi Day, water samples are taken as well. The samples are then analyzed by the Beaver Water District (BWD) lab staff for chlorophyll-a, total phosphorus, and total nitrogen to determine algal density and nutrient concentration.
“This year, we had 32 sampling teams collecting Secchi depth data and water quality samples at 35 sites in Beaver Lake,” Rich said. “Each site was duplicated by different Citizen Scientist teams, so it gives us great confidence that Secchi measurements are being accurately collected. With this year’s data, we see that chlorophyll-a (a bioindicator of algae) was again elevated in the War Eagle Creek and White River sections of the lake. Despite these results, long term averages of Secchi Day data indicate that the high level of water quality in Beaver Lake is being maintained.” Rich also pointed out that data from multiple sources has shown higher nutrient levels in the War Eagle Creek subwatershed compared to other subwatersheds, and project work by the Beaver Watershed Alliance will be focusing on the War Eagle area over the next few years. To read this year’s Secchi Day report, go to the Secchi Day data page on the BWD website at www.bwdh2o.org/water-data/secchi-day-reports/ and the report will be in the middle of the page.
The event planning partners, Beaver Water District, US Army Corps of Engineers, H2Ozarks, and the Beaver Lake Foundation, would like to thank all that volunteered or donated to the event. This includes Harps Foods and Signature Bank for food and the grill while the Rogers Optimist Club cooked lunch for the volunteers; Prairie Creek Marina for use of a boat while picking up litter from some of the islands, the Jensen family for driving these boats; and professional angler Greg Bohannan for some of the door prizes.