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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discusses land acquisitions at Beaver Lake

Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 4:34 PM CDT
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EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. (KY3) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has been working with the public to discuss acquiring private land along Beaver Lake that frequently floods.

The USACE has been conducting surveys around the lake for several months. It hopes to acquire parcels of land to help them best operate the lakes reservoir. The majority of land “slivers” are around the White River and War Eagle Creek, where water routinely floods privately owned property. If continued plans of the acquisitions up to the elevation of 1128 feet, the corps estimates it could affect 500 landowners around the lake, who generally see effects of flooding.

Ralph Langemeier and his wife Joyce have lived on Beaver Lake for more than 30 years. Recently accessing their dock has been more difficult.

”We were having trouble navigating the shoreline so we put in steps to help deal with that for our own sake and for our guests,” said Langemeier.

The steps sit below the elevation of 1,128 feet. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking to buy to better control flooding when lake levels are up.

”When Beaver Lake was impounded they used an older survey technique that didn’t buy all of the land to operate the reservoir,” explained Jay Townsend, Chief of Public Affairs for the USACE Little Rock Divison. “We now have improved survey techniques and we can buy the correct land to operate the reservoir needed to manage flood risk management, drinking water, environmental stewardship, and recreation.”

Many residents wonder why the corps is wanting to purchase land now.

”We’ve realized for quite some time now that we are story water on private property,” said Townsend. “What it boils down to is funding, we’ve been seeking funding for quite some time.”

Affecting 500 owners, each case is unique, like Langemeier who doesn’t want to see his steps removed if he’s to sell the land it sits on to the corps.

”My wife cannot get down to our dock without those steps,” he said. “We’ll still have access but won’t be able to get to the dock in a safe way (if they’re removed).”

While some think the corps is looking to profit off of previous surveying mistakes, it says the primary goal is conservation and to improve the capabilities of accessible drinking water.

”We don’t want an overdeveloped shoreline because one in seven Arkansans get their drinking water from Beaver (Lake), there is the capacity for more there,” said Townsend. “It’s the fifth fastest-growing region in the United States. So this is an effort to purchase all the land that is required to operate the reservoir and own it to make sure we can operate it the way it’s supposed to for the next 50 years.”

The USACE has encouraged community comment. That will happen on April 15.

Click here to see more or leave a comment on the proposed land acquisitions.

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