Shared from the 2016-09-29 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette eEdition

Flooding of greentree reservoirs put off

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission announced Wednesday plans to postpone intentionally flooding greentree reservoirs at Henry Gray Hurricane Lake Wildlife Management Area near Bald Knob until Nov. 15.

According to a news release from AGFC, the current forest health at the WMA is of major concern to biologists. Water begins to flow into the greentree reservoirs of the WMA when the White River reaches 21 feet at the Augusta gauge.

Average river levels exceeded this height in August more times in the past eight years than in the previous

25. These prolonged floods during the growing season before the trees have become dormant have inundated areas of beneficial oaks during late summer for three years.

A similar situation during the 1990s caused die-off of oaks across much of the Dave Donaldson Black River WMA between Corning and Pocahontas.

“Several years of growing-season flooding caused the trees to leaf out as usual one spring, then suddenly ‘brown out’ and die,” Martin Blaney, the AGFC’s statewide habitat program coordinator, said in the news release. “We can’t predict when such mortality may happen again, but the recent conditions on Henry Gray Hurricane Lake are alarmingly similar to those that led to the brown out at Black River. In my opinion, if we do not act now to let these trees go completely dormant before putting more water on them, we’re going to lose them and the food they provide for waterfowl.”

Water-control structures on the WMA’s greentree reservoirs normally would close Oct. 1 to begin intentional flooding, but the structures will remain open until Nov. 15 to provide relief of the stress on red oak species from growing-season flooding.

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