With the abnormally cool weather we’ve seen in Arkansas this year, now’s the time to get out and enjoy all the state has to offer with low-impact water activities! Arkansas is home to some of the most beautiful rivers, lakes and waterways–here are a few ways to enjoy them while keeping the state clean and green!
Camping and enjoying natural watering holes on the weekend are great ways to end the summer! Areas like Crowley’s Ridge State Park at the Chalk Bluff Natural Area are ideal, as the spring-fed lake offers cool and calm waters. The Crowley’s Ridge area also houses two swinging bridges, pedal boat rentals and kayaks throughout the year. Each of these activities are low-impact on the environment, creating little waste and a lot of fun! Plastic is one of the greatest forms of waste that affects a lake’s ecosystem, and is primarily due campers to disposing of waste and trash improperly. “Pack-in and Pack-out,” is a program created by Leave No Trace and utilized by Arkansas Parks to encourage campers and visitors to essentially carry out everything that they have brought into the campsite. If considered waste, these items should also be disposed of properly when leaving the area.
If it’s adventure you’re looking for, low-impact sports like kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding are a great start! Cossatot River State Park – Natural Area boasts clear waters. This scenic adventure is for the more experienced kayak and canoe enthusiasts. When the water level is normal, the river’s rapids are usually considered Class II-III whitewater. Guests can swim, fish, and float through riffles and small rapids as they relax and enjoy the mesmerizing waters near the Sugar Creek area. The natural area’s 5,401 acres emphasize outdoor recreation, river preservation and environmental education. Arkansas State Parks and the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission manage the park.
It is important to remember that while on the river, all trash should be kept in mesh bags and tied to your kayak or boat. Arkansas boating laws now include laws regarding litter and do not allow materials such as glass and Styrofoam on Arkansas waterways. For more information about Arkansas Boating Litter Laws, please visit the Litter Laws page from Arkansas.com.
For the advanced sportsman and fisherman, a new trend is popping up over at DeGray Lake: spearfishing! Spearfishing has become quite popular on DeGray Lake’s clear waters with a season that runs through the fall. The park offers over 1,000 different programs from snorkeling and swimming tours, to kayak, scuba, and spearfishing lessons. The environmental low-impact of spearfishing versus hook-and-line fishing is tremendous. Spearfishing requires no fishing line, which is the biggest source of litter left by fishermen and one of the most lethal for Arkansas wildlife.
These activities produce little to no waste; fishing, however can do more harm than good at times. The most dangerous form of water pollution is typically caused by “ghost gear,” or, fishing gear that has fallen off of the vessel or has been disposed of improperly. Improperly discarded fishing line is not just an inconvenience for fisherman and boats, it is a real danger to fish, birds and other wildlife that can easily ingest the line or get tangled. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has set out to defeat this issue by offering fishing line recycling bins at various public access sites, boat ramps, and commercial docks across The Natural State. These “recapture” bins gather used fishing line on a regular basis and are then sent to Berkely, a monofilament line manufacturer. Berkely recycles these materials into underwater habitat structures that attract fish and encourage plant growth. By helping reduce the amount of waste during summer water activities, you are helping preserve the intricate ecosystems in The Natural State.
To help further combat these issues, Keep Arkansas Beautiful encourages all Arkansans to volunteer in the Great Arkansas Cleanup this fall. The cleanup yields thousands of volunteers looking to help improve their communities by clearing trash from our state’s roadways, shorelines, parks and public areas. To learn more about the Great Arkansas Cleanup and how to get involved, click here.