Welcome to the Ouachita Project Office

Based next to Blakely Mountain Dam at Lake Ouachita, the Ouachita Project Office oversees the operations of Lakes Ouachita, DeGray and Greeson.  Within area of responsibility are 5 critical missions:  Flood Damage Reduction, Hydropower, Environmental Stewardship, Water Supply and Recreation.   These lakes and the missions they fulfill have a powerful impact on the people and economy of Arkansas. 

No one mission is more important that another.  All work together in a delicate tapestry to benefit the people of this state, and the Nation.  We welcome visitors to our lakes, and urge them to keep in mind the multiple missions and responsibilities of our projects and staff.

Today, we face the difficult task of matching service to funding, amid a growing list of critical maintenance items for our facilities.  We are working closely with our stakeholders, the Arkansas Congressional delegation and local officials to find long term solutions to those problems.  Together we will succeed in keeping these lakes and facilities open and operational for generations to come.

Ouachita Project Office Information

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 Common Misconceptions
Misconception # 1: The campgrounds are closed.

FALSE.  The campgrounds are open.  The schedules were reduced over the winter season in order to maximize service during the busier summer months.  Campgrounds are also open during spring and fall under limited schedules.  See the “Tentative Campground Schedule” for specific dates.

Misconception # 2: This is only happening to Arkansas.

FALSE. Other districts throughout the Corps of Engineers are experiencing the same difficulties due to critical infrastructure maintenance issues.  Many of our facilities are decades old and in need of upkeep and maintenance. Other districts like St. Louis and Ft. Worth are also looking into options on how to keep their campgrounds open year round.

Misconception # 3: the Corps can take money from Mississippi lakes and keep the campgrounds open.

FALSE.  Moving money across state lines and appropriations takes Congressional level action.  The Corps cannot do this on its own.

Misconception # 4: The Corps can pay for its campgrounds with the user fees it collects.

FALSE.  The money collected from user fees does not go back into the project.  It goes to the Treasury Department.  In addition, while being allowed to retain those fees would help, the revenue would not be sufficient to cover the actual cost of doing business.

Misconception # 5: Recreation is the main mission of these lakes.

FALSE.  While extremely important to the people and economy of Arkansas, Lake Ouachita, Greeson and DeGray have multiple missions.  Those include Hydropower, Flood Damage Reduction, Environmental Stewardship and Water Supply.   Recreation is an important mission, but we must balance the success of all missions within existing funding.

Misconception # 6: The Corps took money from Recreation to pay for Hydropower maintenance.

FALSE.  Its actually the other way around.  Over the years, the Corps has deferred maintenance in order to keep Recreation as fully funded as possible.  However, we have come to a critical juncture where certain maintenance items cannot wait any longer.  We have spread the funding as best as we can to assure maximum mission accomplishment in all of our areas of responsibility. 

Misconception # 7: The Corps will be able to fix this without assistance.

FALSE.  The Corps rarely if ever does anything alone.  We need the support and cooperation of our stakeholders to find long term solutions.

Misconception # 8: The only solution is more funding.

FALSE.  We are looking at other solutions that include cutting back on more services, balancing infrastructure maintenance with other project priorities, working with stakeholders to maximize campground openings during peak seasons, prioritizing services provided to fit within funding, and leasing campgrounds to non-Corps entities among others.

 What you should know about the Arkansas Lakes
A combination of increasing cost and an extensive and growing list of critical backlog maintenance items has forced the Vicksburg District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to cut back on some campgrounds schedules.  We are making changes across all missions in our properties in order to provide the highest level of service within existing funding. Before you do, there are some things you might not know about the Corps of Engineers mission in Arkansas.
  1. THE CAMPGROUNDS ARE OPEN, just on a different schedule.
  2. Lake Ouachita, Blakely Mountain Dam and surrounding facilities are more than 50 years old.  As with any aging structure they must be maintained.  There is now a growing list of critical and non-critical maintenance items that must be resolved within the next few years.  Some of those require action now; some can be deferred for a short time.
  3. Recreation is only one of the several missions at these lakes.  Others include Hydropower, Water Supply, Flood control and environmental.
  4. A failure in hydropower would affect tens of thousands of Arkansas residents immediately and dramatically.  One of the maintenance items is repair to hydropower generating equipment.  That repair alone will cost 3 million dollars.  If we wait for failure, it will be even more expensive to repair.
  5. We seek a balanced approach to fulfill all of those missions to the greatest extent possible. 
  6. We are deferring some less critical maintenance to shift money to recreation, but we are seeking a balanced approach to the overall mission.
  7. The changes have not only been in closing campgrounds.  For example we have decided not to hire 24 seasonal rangers as part of cost saving, deferring some maintenance is also a way of saving money.  All missions are sharing the burden.
  8. The problem is not isolated to Arkansas.  Other Corps districts are considering closing campgrounds and taking other actions to manage their budgets.  While other campgrounds are fully operational, it takes congressional level action to move funds across state lines.
  9. The final FY 08 Budget was 19.9 million dollars.  A small increase over last year’s budget. However, the priority shift to focus on critical maintenance means that work items involving maintenance received a greater share of the budget this year than last, thus reducing the total amount available for recreation.
  10. Looking to the future there are many options open to prevent this problem from reoccurring.  Among those options is the possibility of leasing the campgrounds to concessions.

Contact Info

Ouachita Project Office
Blakeley Dam Rd
Mountain Pine, AR
Phone: 501-767-4844
FAX: 501-767-4947

Ouachita Project Office Location