Little Rock District is actively engaging the public in its effort to update the 1970s version of the Bull Shoals Lake Master Plan. The agency currently has a comment period open through Sept. 30, and anyone can submit comments by e-mail, fax or regular mail. We have also created a website with complete information about the revision process at http://go.usa.gov/ynYk.
The comment period follows a series of five public scoping workshops the Corps hosted Aug. 22 through 27 in communities around Bull Shoals Lake to collect comments and present details on the lake’s master plan revision process. About 776 lake users and adjacent landowners attended.
“The scoping report captures all the public comments received during the scoping process,” Project Manager Tony Porter said. “The report also provides an analysis of the comments and we’ll use this information to draft the new master plan.”
A master plan is the guidance document that describes how the resources of the lake will be managed in the future and provides the vision for how the lake should look in the future.
The current Bull Shoals Lake Master Plan was developed more than 30 years ago and is outdated. The master plan revision will classify public lands around the lake based on environmental and socioeconomic considerations, public input, and an evaluation of past, present, and future trends.
“At the heart of the draft master plan are the land and water classifications for Bull Shoals Lake. These classifications could affect future recreational opportunities and natural resource management,” Acting Deputy Chief of Operations Dana Coburn said. “A question the team members have been asking as they go through this process is, ‘should areas stay in the current classification or should they be changed to another classification?’”
Classifications of public land and water around the lake are:
· Project operations - Includes land around Bull Shoals Dam.
· High density recreation - Examples are Lakeview Park, other campgrounds, marinas and large scale commercial operations.
· Environmentally sensitive areas - Examples are areas around the lake aimed to preserve the scenic, historical, archeological, scientific, or ecological value.
· Low density recreation - These areas are designed for general hunting and fishing access and are the only areas where private boat docks and mowing permits might be allowed through the shoreline management plan.
· Wildlife management - These areas are managed specifically for wildlife and fisheries habitat. An example is Jones Point Wildlife Management Area.
· Vegetative management - These areas are where vegetative management activities can occur such as timber management.
· Future/inactive recreation areas - Many campgrounds have been closed around the lake; some were never developed.
New Water Surface Classifications
· Restricted Areas could restrict boats near water intake structures.
· Designated No-Wake Areas could be designated near Corps swim beaches.
· Fish and Wildlife Sanctuary Areas could be areas that are considered ‘sanctuary’ to fish and wildlife species.
· Open Recreation Areas are the rest of the lake.
The planning process will include an analysis of potential effects on the natural and social environment, including fish and wildlife, recreation opportunities, economics, land use, cultural and historical resources, aesthetics, and public health and safety.
Once all public comments have been collected and the scoping report is made available to the public, the Corps will begin planning focus group meetings with stakeholders, partners, concessionaires and local interest groups.
“We’ll hold focus group meetings to see if the draft master plan captures the comments and opinions of the public, partners and stakeholders in conjunction with the missions, guidelines and regulations of the Corps,” Porter said.
The draft master plan should be complete by the summer of 2015.
“Once the draft documents are complete, we’ll hold public workshops around the lake to again let the public provide input,” said Coburn. “We had tremendous interest from the public when we started this process and we hope that will continue throughout the process.
The first Bull Shoals Master Plan was published in 1951 after the lake was impounded and was revised in 1975. The master plan is considered a working document that can be supplemented to fit the projects needs and public access demands.
The master plan does not address the details of how and where shoreline use permits may be issued, however, it does set the stage for implementation of the shoreline management program.
After the master plan is revised, the operational management plan and shoreline management plan will be revised to be consistent with the goals identified in the master plan.
Comments can be e-mailed to ceswl-BSmasterplan@usace.army.mil or faxed to 501-324-5605. They can also be mailed to Dana Coburn, Chief, Environmental Branch, Planning and Environmental, USACE, Little Rock District, P.O. Box 867, Little Rock, AR 72203. Comments must be postmarked no later than Sept. 30 to be included in the master plan scoping report.