Corps issues Table Rock Lake Master Plan final draft
LITTLE ROCK -- After a four-month hiatus because of the federal government's shutdown last October, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed the final draft of its Table Rock Lake Master Plan update.
The Corps will present the final draft this weekend in Branson and will answer questions but will not take any more comments on it.
Out of several alternatives for management of the lake and its shoreline, the Corps has selected a combination of Alternative 2, Balanced Use, and 2d, which eliminates a proposed vegetative management plan that creates a 50-foot buffer along the shoreline. This buffer was eliminated for all land classifications after strong public outcry against it.
The master update plan update draft was first presented last July 2013, with public information sessions held in Branson in August.
In addition, the Corps determined that its selected alternative results in a Finding of No Significant Impact, which negates the need for an Environmental Impact Statement. The FONSI determines there are no significant negative impacts to public health and safety; historical and cultural resources; park lands, farmlands, wetlands, wild and scenic rivers or ecologically critical areas; recreation; threatened or endangered species, or other environmental protections.
"The Corps determined that if all current policies were enforced approximately 66 percent of Table Rock Lake's shoreline would have an area that would exhibit the same environmental benefits as the Vegetative Management Area land classification," wrote Corps Little Rock District Commander Col. Courtney W. Paul.
The Corps maintains, however, that a shoreline management plan is a separate consideration and will be addressed at some point.
The plan does change some land classifications from low density to high density use or low density to environmentally sensitive.
The Carroll County portion of Table Rock Lake begins below the Beaver Dam and extends to Eagle Rock, Mo. Incorporated within it are areas of concern to residents of Beaver and Holiday Island and their surrounding areas.
Holiday Island District Manager Dennis Kelly said he had not seen the final draft yet. Holiday Island has some concerns about its use of the Point, across from the marina, which was designated low density recreation. Holiday Island's lease agreement with the Corps for use of this shoreline will reflect this land classification.
"When Becky Short [from the Corps] came down and looked at it one Saturday, she said we need to extend the coverage and make it high density use because of all the people using it down there," Kelly said. "When we submitted our recommended changes, we included making it high density use for recreation purposes. If they don't change it, it should be fine because people will use it anyway. We will maintain the property and cut the grass as we've always done."
The master plan draft leaves the Point as low density but shows the marina parking area and a little beyond it on the east side of the docks as high density.
At the town of Beaver, areas to the north of Beaver Bridge, encompassing the RV park and and picnic areas, are designated as high density, but areas at the end of the walking trail are low density recreation. A large area where Butler Creek flows into the White River is considered environmentally sensitive, which continues upriver on both sides, including the area where SWEPCO wants to cross with a proposed 345 Kv transmission power line.
The Corps addresses public concerns about this line in the "special topics" section of the final draft. It said it had received several comments about the line.
"Easements for public utilities across Federal lands are discouraged unless there is no viable alternative route or the easement is of direct benefit to the Government," the draft states. It said the proposed line would be evaluated with respect to the goals of the master plan and "through a separate NEPA documentation process. Right-of-ways for public utilities are considered in all land classifications, because these utilities serve the greater good of the community as a whole. Requests for rights of way will be reviewed on a case by case basis."
The Corps will hold two public open houses on the final draft plan, on Friday, March 7, from 2 to 4 p.m. and Saturday, March 8, from 1 to 4 p.m., at the Dewey Short Visitor Center at 4600 State Hwy. 165 in Branson, Mo. An informational video will be shown at 15-minute intervals throughout the open house period, and Corps staff will be on hand to answer questions.
To view the final draft and attachments, visit http://www.swl.usace.army.mil/Missions/Planning/TableRockMasterPlanUpdate.aspx.