Sometimes a coalition of public agencies can produce positive results. We have Cane Creek Lake for an illustration.
A product of the 1980s, the lake is a few miles southeast of Star City, and it lies in a transition area, where the Coastal Plain meets the Delta. The lake was built by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas State Parks and the federal Soil Conservation Service.
The multiple purposes were for flood control, for fishing and for general recreation.
The lake itself covers 1,675 acres, and Cane Creek State Park on its southern shore covers 2,053 acres.
A quarter-century after they were built, the lake and the park are successes. Flooding of agricultural land in the area has been reduced, fishermen are bringing in some nice catches, and the park has steady users from nearby and far away.
State parks in Arkansas fall into a few broad categories. Most are scenic. Some are historic. Cane Creek State Park doesn’t fit a pattern, but its offerings are as varied as any park in Arkansas.
One example is it has become a kayak center. Yes, kayaks in the flatlands.
The park has kayaks for rent, kayaking classes, and it’s a fine opportunity for beginners to get into this unique form of water travel. With a little instruction, newcomers to kayaking can soon be handling the two-bladed paddles efficiently for quick and easy cruising to fishing spots, to birding areas and just to have fun.
Park personnel lead kayaking tours of the lake in spring, summer and fall, and the tours begin in March. Beginners kayaking classes are for small groups – four to 10 persons.
Fishing was in the forefront of Cane Creek Lake from the time it appeared on planners’ drawing boards. Today, the familiar largemouth bass, crappie, bream and catfish are the lake’s sport fish, and good strings of all four are common for anglers.
Billy Ringo of the park’s staff said, "When they catch crappie here, it is usually good ones," holding his hands a foot or so apart. Seven-pound largemouth bass are not uncommon, he added.
Two handicapped accessible fishing piers are close to the park on the south side of the lake, and boat launching ramps on the lower end of the lake are reached from Arkansas Highway 283 on the south side and Arkansas Highway 11 on the north side.
Extensive standing timber in Cane Creek Lake provides fish habitat, and many of the catches are made close to the old trees. A bait shop is at park headquarters.
When the lake was created, public fishing lakes were scarce in southeast Arkansas. Not any more. After Cane Creek, Lake Monticello was constructed a couple of dozen miles to the south. Both are popular with fishermen today.
Cane Creek is a tributary of Bayou Bartholomew, the stream that wiggles and meanders from Pine Bluff southward into Louisiana and holds the title of World’s Longest Bayou. The creek empties into the bayou about three miles downstream from Cane Creek Dam.
The park has 29 developed campsites, and these include electrical and water hookups plus outside tables and grills. For persons wanting to experience recreational vehicle camping, one is available for rent at a Cane Creek Park site.
Park program offerings are varied, too, and some are unique in addition to the kayak events.
A January long-distance hike is called the Pancake 20. It starts with a pancake breakfast, followed by a 20-mile walk, not run. Several Dutch oven cooking workshops are held each year along with Dutch oven dessert nights. Music nights are scheduled in warmer times, and there is the Stargaze 5K for runners and the Cane Creek timberland for bicycle riders.
Pavilions can be rented for group gatherings.
For more information on Cane Creek Park, phone 870-628-4714 or go online to www.ArkansasStateParks.com.
Joe Mosby is the retired news editor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas’ best known outdoor writer. His work is distributed by the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.