POINSETT COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - A fishing attraction in Region 8 will not be open to visitors late this summer.
Brett Timmons, Northeast Arkansas fishery supervisor and district biologist, told Region 8 News the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission plans to drain Lake Poinsett located in Poinsett County in Harrisburg on July 10.
Several residents have mixed feelings about the entire project.
"I've enjoyed what fishing I've done out here," said Maxine Parker, a 90-year-old resident who has lived in Poinsett County all her life. "But I think if it is necessary, it should be done."
"I personally don't like it," said one fisherman. "This is the only lake that is usually really successful. I don't know, I'm just not too happy about this."
Timmons said the reason behind draining the lake includes several factors.
One of the factors is starting a project that was proposed more than a decade ago which plans to repair the bank erosion at the lake.
The second factor is to repair or replace the water control structure under the lake. Timmons said this must be done to control the functionality of the waterways and levels.
A third factor in draining the lake is to improve the fishing habitat at the lake.
"I've talked to a very few people that are in favor of it but I also understand this is something that has to be done," said Harrisburg Mayor Randy Mills.
Mills also said this lake has a major impact on the economy.
"We'll lose that tourist revenue and that fishermen revenue but hopefully, for future generations, it will be here," said Mills.
The lake has functioned since 1961 and needs to be looked at closely to identify any further issues due to its age, according to Timmons.
He said the AGFC projects it will take three to four months to drain the lake.
However, the projects and experiments planned for Lake Poinsett will take a few years.
Timmons said if all goes to schedule the lake would start to be naturally refilled by 2020 or 2021.
Because it is a fishing destination in Region 8, Timmons said in May they plan to allow patrons to harvest fish from Lake Poinsett without limits.
He said that allowance will continue through July as they drain the lake.
Parker said, though many are not happy about this project, she is more optimistic about the lake's future.
"We lived when they built it, it was a good thing but it will be again when they restock it and you know rebuild it," said Parker.
During the process of the project, Timmons said visitors to the state park will be allowed to look around and see what is going on, but the lake will not be open.
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