MOUNTAIN HOME, AR - This weekend marks the final holiday of the summer recreation season, and the Army Corps of Engineers encourages all visitors to Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes to recreate safely on what may be a cooler than normal Labor Day weekend.
Both lakes are back down to near normal conditions after a second summer of high water. Visitors should find most facilities fully open and operational. All boat launches and swim beaches are open, and the Corps would like to remind visitors that the resumption of day use fees began on Aug. 15. An annual or day use permit is required to use facilities in areas where the fee is charged.
All campgrounds are open as well, however, not all individual sites will be available due to high water damage. River Run and Tucker Hollow parks on Bull Shoals Lake will have approximately half of the sites closed because of high water damage or reconstruction work.
The entire A Loop at Tucker Hollow park is under construction and will be unavailable for this holiday weekend. Site demolition is underway, and a completely renovated camping loop is expected to be completed this winter. However, the boat launch and marina are unaffected by this work, as is camping in B Loop.
River Run camp sites 11-28 were heavily impacted by high water and tree damage and will not be open for the Labor Day weekend.
Furthermore, there are only four campgrounds that currently offer reservations. Gamaliel and Quarry parks on Norfork and Lakeview and Pontiac parks on Bull Shoals require reservations, but most sites are already reserved. All other camping is on a first come, first served basis. Reservation scheduling should return to normal for the 2010 camping season.
The Corps would like to remind everyone to enjoy the parks and lakes, but be responsible and safe on this final holiday weekend. Increased visitation and a "last summer fling" mentality can be a dangerous combination if some basic safety rules are not followed.
While on the lake, watch for fluctuating lake elevations and floating or partially submerged hazards. Never operate a boat or vehicle after drinking alcohol. Always wear your life jacket when on the water. Be observant and vigilant when operating a boat. Keep your eye on the sky for possible developing thunderstorms. Never swim alone. Finally, don't become another fatality or injury statistic by jumping from a bluff.