MAYFLOWER, AR (Press Release) – Fisheries personnel from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will begin removing tornado debris from Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir on Wednesday through Friday. The tornado track took it over the lake and rubble from the twister landed in Lake Conway.
Chief of Fisheries Mark Oliver said there's no way of knowing what debris has been blown into the lake until crews are able to get boats out on the lake. “A lot of it will be debris from buildings, roofing materials, insulation, structural materials, household furniture and appliances,” he said. “There could be a variety of household goods and products in the lake. One of our biologists saw freezers and other big appliances in the lake,” Oliver explained.
AGFC District Fisheries Biologist Tom Bly said one of the agency’s concerns are the debris blocking the dam gates and hindering the ability to efficiently manage water levels. “Another fear is the navigation hazard of large debris,” he added.
The 6,700-acre lake is the largest AGFC-owned lake and the largest lake ever constructed by a state wildlife agency. Because of its large size, central location and excellent fishing, it has been one of the state's favored fishing spots since it was built on Palarm Creek in 1948. Lake Conway was the first lake constructed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
An east-side nursery pond permits stocking millions of crappies, largemouth bass and catfish directly into the lake. Fingerling fish from hatcheries are fed until they reach sizes ensuring safety from most predators. The fish are then released into the lake through a canal. Before the nursery pond was constructed in 1968, crappie were almost non-existent in Lake Conway.
The AGFC’s maintenance shed, clubhouse and dog training facilities at the Camp Robinson Special Use Area were destroyed by the Mayflower tornado. Other area AGFC facilities such as the H.C. "Red" Morris Natural Resources Conservation and Enforcement Training Center and the Dr. James E. Moore Jr. Camp Robinson Firing Range were not hit by the tornado.
Due to downed trees and lack of power to the area, all events at the facilities are cancelled until further notice.
In response to the tornado, wildlife officers with the agency’s Disaster Response Team, along with other wildlife officers, have been on scene in support of local enforcement agencies. The DRT consists of about 40 wildlife officers from the AGFC’s Enforcement Division.
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