Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Opposition Voiced To Plan For Lake Monticello Draining

Photo courtesy of Google Maps
A good crowd was on hand Tuesday, July 25th for the Monticello City Council meeting.  The reason was a discussion of the merits of draining Lake Monticello to improve the "trophy bass" fishing, which according to officials of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has declined and will get worse. Staff of the Commission were present to make a presentation outlining their belief that the only way to adequately return the Lake to the status of an outstanding bass fishing lake is to drain it totally and make improvements to the lake bed and habitat.  This includes getting rid of undesirable species. The majority of those present voiced opposition to the plan and suggested that less drastic options are available and in some cases stated that the lake is doing fine as is.

Lake Monticello is owned by the City of Monticello and is managed by a partnership agreement with Game and Fish.  Any final decision on how the lake will be managed rests with the Monticello City Council.  Game and Fish staff told the council they would continue to work with the city regardless of any decision made by the city.  It was obvious from the statements made by Game and Fish personnel that they believe it would be beneficial in the long run to drain the lake.  It is estimated it would take 4 years to refill after improvements are made. No exact time table can be guaranteed.

Lake Monticello is a 1500 acre lake, constructed to be used as a recreational lake and available as a water supply in the future.  Should it ever become a water supply source, changes as to it's usage would be required.

A representative of SEARK Boats was present and stated that the company uses the lake to test boats and for other purposes and does not favor the lake being drained.

The vast majority of those in attendance indicated they thought the lake was fine as is or that modest actions can be taken to make improvements.  At least one person seemed to indicate he did not want any action taken that would encourage people from outside the region to use the lake.

Throughout the meeting, members of the Monticello City Council asked questions and it became obvious that Game and Fish wants the lake to return to being a hot bed of "trophy bass" fishing, as they say it once was, while many anglers in the area are satisfied with the lake as is, or desire only minor actions be taken.  The discussion was civil on all sides.

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