Vicksburg District to temporarily close visitor centers, field offices, recreation areas to the public
VICKSBURG, Miss. --
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District will temporarily close its visitor centers, interpretive centers, field offices and select recreation site attractions across Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas to the public beginning March 19.
The affected visitor and interpretive centers include the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway Regional Visitor Center in Shreveport, Louisiana; the Grand Ecore Visitor Center in Natchitoches, Louisiana; the Grenada Lake Visitor Center in Grenada, Mississippi; and the DeGray Lake Visitor Center in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. These centers will each close March 19.
The affected field offices include those at Arkabutla, Enid, Sardis and Grenada lakes in Mississippi; Lake Greeson, DeGray Lake and Lake Ouachita in Arkansas; Bayou Bodcau in Louisiana; and the Louisiana Field Office in Monroe, Louisiana. These offices will each close March 19.
The public will be unable to receive in-person customer service or purchase recreation passes from all of the district’s visitor centers, interpretive centers and field offices beginning March 19. The public is encouraged to contact the offices and centers via telephone for customer service and to purchase recreation passes online at the following link: https://store.usgs.gov/pass.
All district campgrounds will be closed March 23. Visitors to the campgrounds must depart no later than 4 p.m. March 22. All scheduled campground reservations after March 22 will be canceled. Refunds will be provided through Recreation One Stop, which is available online at Recreation.gov or via telephone at 1-877-444-6777.
All district day use areas will be closed as soon as possible but no later than March 23. All scheduled pavilion and special event registrations will be canceled. Visitors who had registrations should contact the appropriate field office for refund information.
At this time, the recreation sites’ boat ramps and nearby amenities, including restrooms and fish cleaning stations, will remain open.
For more information about closures, cancelations and other operational changes, the public may contact the following:
• Arkabutla Lake: 662-562-6261
• Enid Lake: 662-563-4571
• Grenada Lake: 662-226-5911
• Sardis Lake: 662-563-4531
• Bayou Bodcau, Caddo Lake, Wallace Lake: 318-949-1804
• J. Bennett Johnston Waterway Regional Visitor Center: 318-677-2673
• Grand Ecore Visitor Center: 318-354-8770
• Louisiana Field Office: 318-322-6391
• Lake Ouachita: 501-767-2101 (extension 7-3006)
• DeGray Lake: 870-246-5501 (extension 6-4021)
• Lake Greeson: 870-285-2151 (extension 5-5005)
These closures and cancelations are due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) concern and recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and USACE guidance to avoid large gatherings of people. As of 9 a.m. CDT March 18, 34 COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed in Mississippi, 22 in Arkansas and 196 in Louisiana.
“Based on the need to combat the spread of COVID-19, the Vicksburg District has decided to temporarily close our visitor centers, interpretive centers, field offices, and select recreation areas and to cancel events at our recreation sites in the coming weeks,” said Vicksburg District Commander Col. Robert Hilliard. “The health and safety of our team, our community and our visitors remain our top priority, and we are committed to doing our part to reduce risk. We thank our recreation site visitors for their patience, and we will continue to provide updates as they become available.”
The Vicksburg District owns and operates more than 100 recreation areas across Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana where millions of visitors enjoy fishing, camping, hunting, boating, hiking, swimming, geocaching and more every year. The district’s 10 flood control reservoirs across Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana provide numerous benefits to the region, including flood risk management, hydropower, water supply, wildlife management and recreation.
The Vicksburg District is engineering solutions to the nation’s toughest challenges. The district encompasses a 68,000-square-mile area across portions of Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana that holds seven major river basins and incorporates approximately 460 miles of mainline Mississippi River levees. The district is engaged in hundreds of projects and employs approximately 1,100 personnel.
Two Recreational Policies Change at North Mississippi Corps Lakes
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District announces the update of two recreational policies at Arkabutla, Sardis, Enid, and Grenada Lakes effective June 1, 2018.
Policy updates are for the length of stay in campgrounds and the use of low speed vehicles in campgrounds. The length of stay for camping at Arkabutla, Enid, Grenada, and Sardis lakes is 14 consecutive days. At the end of a camper's 14-day stay, the camper may apply for an extension for up to 14 additional days. During the peak season of March-October, one extension may be granted per visit for a total stay of 28 consecutive days. In non-peak season, November-February, up to two extensions may be granted per visit for a total stay of 42 consecutive days.
At the end of the campers' stay, they must leave the campground for 14 days before returning, but may move to another campground at the same lake during this time. Prior to this, the lakes had different peak seasons and length of stay policies differed from lake to lake and sometimes campground to campground.
The low speed vehicle policy will primarily affect golf cart users within campgrounds. For many years, campers have been allowed to operate golf carts within campgrounds at these lakes. This policy update will limit golf cart use to only persons with permanent disabilities. Persons who wish to operate a golf cart in campgrounds at Arkabutla, Enid, Grenada, or Sardis will be required to obtain a free permit from the field offices at each of these lakes. Each permit may be used for a period of one calendar year, and permit holders will be given a decal to affix to their golf carts.
Safety plays a key role in the update of the low speed vehicle policy. Many of the roads at these campgrounds are narrow, which makes navigating difficult for the numerous large vehicles and campers. Reducing the amount of cart traffic will significantly decrease the likelihood of a serious accident. Updating these policies will ensure a more consistent visitor experience, not only among the North Mississippi Lakes, but also within other Corps projects in the state.
FISH STRUCTURE PLACEMENT REGULATION
All persons placing structure(s) in Sardis, Arkabutla, Grenada, and Enid lakes must abide by the terms outlined in the following regulations according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) Title 36.
The placement of untreated, wooden structures in the lake basin for the purpose of fish habitat is authorized. Artificial wooden "grabbling structures" are also authorized. Natural structures may not be altered and used to "hand fish" from. Other structures made of plastic, PVC, metal, and other non-biodegradable materials are NOT allowed. Any person(s) installing a structure not in compliance with this regulation may be subject to a citation under Title 36.
The placement of trees are allowed along with an appropriately sized anchoring device which may be made of concrete, brick, or stone. Any anchor(s) other than these approved materials will be in violation and subject to fines and penalties.
Structures may not be placed within 300 feet of any designated swimming area or beach. These structures should not be placed in any areas where they may become boating hazards such as directly below or adjacent to any boat ramp.
Cultural Resource Protection- Visitors are reminded that the removal of historical and archaeological features (material from old house sites, arrowheads, human remains, etc.) is PROHIBITED.
If caught, looters face arrest, fines up to $20,000 and imprisonment for disturbing these areas.
Life Jackets are Mandatory at MS Lakes
The following life jacket rules are being enforced at all four of the Vicksburg District-North Mississippi lakes at Arkabutla, Sardis, Enid and Grenada.
All persons must wear a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times:
- while swimming outside of designated swimming areas.
- while skiing or being pulled by a vessel, regardless of vessel length.
- on powered vessels 16 to 26 feet in length whenever under power by the main propulsion unit.
- on powered vessels less than 16 feet in length or on non-powered vessels regardless of length.
For more information, contact the Sardis Lake Field Office at 662.563.4531 or the MS Project Management Office at 662.578.3873
Rules for Sardis Lake Archery Area
The following rules are in effect at the Sardis Lake Archery Area. All hunters must have a permit prior to engaging in any hunting activity within the archery area. Permits must be picked up in person at the Sardis Lake Field Office. A hunter survey is included on the back of the permit form. It must be filled out and returned to the Sardis Lake Field Office or placed in a drop box at one of two check-in stations at the conclusion of each season.
The archery area is located near on either side of Sardis Dam and offers over 1,000 acres for archery only hunting. Hunters may use long bows, recurves, and compound bows. Seasons, bag limits, and other regulations are set by the MS Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. For more information please contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sardis Lake Field Office (662) 563-4531.