LWF: 2024 D’Arbonne Drawdown Up for Discussion

A long-awaited federal reimbursement check for funds Union Parish spent nearly seven years ago is in the mail, the Bayou D’Arbonne Lake Watershed Commission announced at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday.

Also during the meeting, LWF biologist Ryan Daniel told the commission that Lake D’Arbonne is in such “great condition” that the drawdown scheduled for next year may not be necessary. One indicator, he said, is that the largemouth bass coming out of Lake D’Arbonne are some of the largest ever recorded since LWF began surveying the lake.

The Lake Commission received word last week that $13,000 in parish funds spent coping with the 2016 flood will be reimbursed by the federal government by next week, commission President Terry Morris said.

“We were on them about this for so long but with nothing happening, we finally stopped putting it on the agenda,” Morris said.

The news was a welcome surprise, Commission member Richard Royal said. There is no shortage of projects on the commission’s to do list, he said, only a shortage of funds to do them.

“This is the best news we’ve had in a long time,” Royal said.

Other good news did come from LWF’s Daniel when he presented his annual report on LWF activities on Lake D’Arbonne in 2022.

Daniel said the fish survey from last Spring showed improvements in the stock, quality and size of the lake’s largemouth bass population.  While fish surveys target specific species, Daniel said, the health of one species can, generally, be extrapolated to indicate the health trend of all species in the lake.

LWF’s survey’s use a rather complex formula to turn survey numbers into a rating for the lake, but in simplest terms, Lake D’Arbonne’s fish population is the second best on record in both quality and quantity, Daniel said.

Daniel also told the commission that the vegetation levels in the lake seem to be contributing to the lake’s overall health.

“We’re seeing all the right vegetation in all the right places and depths,” Daniel said. “We’re also not seeing a problem with giant salvinia at the moment, although the next couple of months will give us a better idea of what to expect there.”

When Commissioner Steve Cagle questioned Daniel about the drawdown scheduled for the winter of 2024, Daniel responded that LWF – normally a strong proponent of maintaining a strict drawdown schedule – might support cancelling the drawdown. 

“If,” Daniel emphasized, “the lake looks as good next year as it does now.”

The commission agreed without a vote to take up the drawdown matter early next year.

In other business, the commission reported that it is still waiting on the arrival of 80 lighted bouys to be used to replace pylon channel markers.  The commission expects to receive and install the bouys before the end of the summer, Morris said. Forty unlit bouys have already been placed on the lake, and those will be retrofitted with lights, bring the total number of lighted channel markers to 120, he said. 

Commissioner Royal reported that boat launch fees have generated $13,237 in 2023.

The commission also discussed redesigning the concrete ramp at the Terrell Island boat launch, but tabled the idea because a project of that scope can only be undertaken during a drawdown, which may or may not occur as scheduled in 2024.

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