Restoring Trout to Little Rock Creek
(i) $1,250,000 the first year and $1,500,000 the second year are for targeted nonpoint restoration technical assistance and engineering. At least 93 percent of this amount must be made available for grants. (2011 - Restoration Technical Assistance)
This Clean Water Fund grant will be used to hire local staff to work with residents to install measures that will help restore Little Rock Creek and Little Rock Lake.
Benton SWCD developed and promoted an irrigation scheduling program. SWCD staff collected local daily high and low temperatures, Evaporation Transpiration rates (ET), rain amount, and irrigation amounts and conducted weekly soil moisture testing. A weekly soil moisture graph was provided to the irrigator to assist in accurate irrigation scheduling. Over three summers we provided this assistance for 63 crop fields covering 3,581 acres.
Little Rock Creek is the only trout stream in the Benton and Morrison County area. The creek has supported a wild brown trout population since they were introduced into Little Rock Lake in 1908. A population assessment done in 1992, however, failed to document the presence of brown trout suggesting that population may have become critically low during the drought years of the late 1980's and early 1990's. The stream has since been listed as impaired due to the low abundance of trout and other cold water fish. A subsequent study of Little Rock Creek identified low flows, specifically flow originating from groundwater, as the primary stressor to the fish. Little Rock Lake itself is severely degraded with toxic blue green algae levels during some years. In 2007, a severe algae bloom caused officials to advise lake users to avoid contact with the water. This Clean Water Fund grant will be used to hire local staff to work with residents to install measures that will help restore Little Rock Creek and Little Rock Lake. A major effort will include working with farmers who irrigate their crops. The employee will assist with assessing irrigation systems and irrigation management strategies so that water and nutrients are supplied to crops at an appropriate rate and time. These measures will use less groundwater and reduce the chance of contamination, resulting in a larger volume of cool, higher quality groundwater flow to Little Rock Creek and Little Rock Lake. Several other best management practices designed to provide sufficient cool baseflow in the creek and improve water quality installed in cooperation with lake and creek residents.