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    Greers Ferry Lake sits on the northern portion of the Fayetteville Shale area.  The lake was formed after a dam was completed on the Little Red River in 1962.  The following year, President John F. Kennedy dedicated the dam in one of his last public appearences before his assination.  The lake covers about 40,000 acres or about 63 square miles.  

    The lake is great for boating, swimming, fishing, and scuba diving which makes it the most visited tourist attraction in the state.  The lake draws tourists from all over the world and the 15 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers parks around the lake alone receive more annual visitors than the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty.   There are also numerous popular hiking trails around the lake including one on Sugarloaf Mountain, a 500 foot tall island in the middle of the lake.  

    The lake is renowned for great fishing as every native Arkansas game fish has been stocked in the lake by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.  The lake holds the state records for walleye and striped bass and is nationally recognized for these two species of fish.  The lake is also a prime lake for smallmouth, largemouth, and hybrid bass as well as crappie, lake trout, catfish, brim, and other popular game fish.  The Little Red River flows from the lake below the dam and is one of the most popular trout fishing destinations in the country.

    The lake is not only the economic engine for the area, but it also supplies drinking water for over 100,000 people, some as far away as Little Rock.  The lake has always been a pristine lake, with clear water that made for good recreational diving and provided clean drinking water.  In the last few years, the turbidity of the lake has increased greatly.  

    Turbidity is a measurement of how clear the water is.  Scuba divers who have been enjoying the lake for decades are now reporting the lowest underwater visibility they have ever seen at the lake.  Community water systems that are supplied by the lake have seen increases in the amount sediment and manganese in the water that they pull from the lake.  This has led to a large increase in the cost to treat the water and the city of Clinton has been experiencing dramatic water problems.  Heber Springs and other water suppliers in the area have also had similar problems.  Both Heber Spings and Clinton are spending millions of dollars to upgrade their water treatment facilities to handle the extra amount of sediment and manganese.  The U.S. Department of Commerce has already given these cities $2.4 million in grant money and the cities themselves will foot a large part of the cost as well.

    The problems stem from an increase of sediment that is washing into the lake.  Any development around the lake can lead to an increase in sediment, however the bulk of the problem over the last few years has stemmed from the sediment runoff due to the tens of thousands of acres cleared around the lake for natural gas development.  Although companies have performed seismic testing on the lake, no wells have been drilled under the lake.  The Bureau of Land Management controls the minerals under the lake.  Many wells surround the lake and companies may try to frack under the lake in the future.
Greers Ferry Dam with Greers Ferry Lake (background) and the Little Red River (foreground)
President John F. Kennedy at the dedication ceremonies for Greers Ferry Dam
Sugarloaf Mountain in the middle of Greers Ferry Lake
Greers Ferry Lake and the gas wells that surround it
Water in Van Buren County from Greers Ferry Lake (Aug. 2011)
Diving cliffs and swimming area at the popular Dam Site Park in Heber Springs