Corps establishes commercial zones at marinas on Table Rock

Thursday, October 2, 2008

In the interest of public safety and the security of visitor property, the Little Rock District of the Army Corps of Engineers has established "commercial zones" around marinas, which will restrict recreational activities within 50 feet of all marina docks.

Lakes that fall under the new policy include Beaver, Table Rock, Bull Shoals, Norfork, Clearwater, Greers Ferry, Dardanelle and Millwood. Examples of prohibited activities within these zones are boating, fishing, swimming and diving. Commercial zones are being marked with signs and buoys.

Fishing beneath boat storage docks has created the most difficulties because hooks and lures sometimes damage boats or docks. People like to fish under marina docks, because they act as structure that attract fish.

One alternative for anglers is to work with local Corps offices to create fish attractors out of discarded Christmas trees or certain other materials. Many fishing clubs have long been involved with the Corps and state fish and game agencies in creating these.

Boaters sometimes obstruct operations around marinas by boating or fishing too close. Swimming or diving around marinas is always unsafe. Keeping recreational activities away from the docks will also help cut down on thefts and improve safety by reducing boat traffic.

Public access to recreation is still guaranteed at Little Rock District lakes. There are more than 256,000 acres, and the commercial zones constitute only about 1 percent of the total lake area.

It is not unusual for the Corps to restrict recreational activities in certain areas if a need exists. For instance, recreational activities are commonly restricted at locks, dams, spillways, powerhouses, swimming areas and water intakes to help ensure safety and protection of lives and property. The commercial zones have the same intention.

Restrictions at marinas are not new. No fishing zones have been in place since 1986, and commercial zones have been in place since 2007. The new policy formalizes the commercial zones and establishes the means for Corps park rangers and other law enforcement officers to enforce the policy.

The 50-foot buffer will be used whenever possible to provide consistency from marina to marina. However, with a written request to the Corps that demonstrates a special need, a marina operator might be allowed to place some additional restriction on recreational activities that obstruct ingress and egress to marina docks. Posted signs will indicate an extension of the commercial zone.

The Corps discussed and coordinated the commercial zone policy during its development with members of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society and the Missouri-Arkansas Marina Association.

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