This week brought the official start to the spring season, which in Arkansas means that lake season isn’t far behind. Arkansas has some of the most beautiful, well-maintained lakes in the United States. I have wonderful memories of spending time with my family on these lakes and they are an important part of our state identity.
For many years, lakes in Arkansas and throughout the United States have been maintained through joint management agreements between local cooperating partners and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. These management programs ensured groups like the Friends of Lake Ouachita could collect user fees and reinvest them directly back in the maintenance of the recreation facilities around the lake.
But despite years of successful operation, the Corps recently determined they lacked the authority to continue these joint management agreements and are in the process of suspending all local partnerships. Previously, there were 10 agreements in place, with an additional 20 agreements in the process of being signed before the process was terminated.
Recently, I introduced the LOCAL Act, a bill that provides the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the authority to continue these joint management programs. Specifically, the LOCAL Act would allow the current agreements to remain in force, and new agreements to be signed, if the local entities meet certain criteria.
Arkansans know better than anyone how to manage our lands and cuts to the Corps’ budget shouldn’t dictate our ability to enjoy these facilities. Arkansas is known as the Natural State—one of our greatest points of pride is access to public lands and water. The LOCAL Act will ensure that facilities like Lake Ouachita and Beaver Lake will remain easily accessible for future generations.