Table Rock Lake, Missouri (2012)

Purpose of the project:

Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo are located in the White River Hills region of the
Ozark Plateau along the Missouri-Arkansas border. At conservation pool, Table Rock Lake
encompasses 43,100 acres with 745 miles of shoreline, and Lake Taneycomo covers
just over 2,000 acres. Table Rock Lake is the second largest of five
reservoirs in the upper White River drainage basin which covers over 5,000
square miles in both Missouri and Arkansas. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
estimates the recreational use of the lake at between 40 and 50 million visitor
visits annually with the economic value of the fishery estimated at $41 million
(1997 estimate). Along with the Branson tourism industry, Table Rock and the
other White River impoundments are responsible for hundreds of millions of
dollars pumped into the local economies.

This high-profile recreational development has come with an environmental cost. The
large number of visitors, increases in confined animal production in the
watershed, and population growth have created water quality issues in Table
Rock Lake. According to USGS, water clarity at Table Rock Dam decreased by more
than 2.5 feet from 1974 to 1994. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) identified
municipal sewage discharges, residential wastewater treatment systems and
livestock and poultry wastes as the likely causes of nutrient loading. In
response to declining water quality issues, the Table Rock Lake Area Chamber of
Commerce formed Table Rock Lake Water Quality (TRLWQ), a 501(c)(3) non-profit
corporation, in 1998. TRLWQ is focusing its efforts on failing onsite
wastewater treatment systems and other decentralized wastewater treatment
systems in the watershed. Estimates are that 75 to 90% of existing systems over
5 years old are failing. MDC has pledged full support of TRLWQ’s water quality
improvement programs.

TRLWQ received $2 million in federal funding and along with $667,000 in local match
funded a demonstration project to determine which advanced wastewater treatment
systems were best suited for local conditions, along with installation and on-site
testing. The project also tested the feasibility of a Responsible Management
Entity (RME) to own, operate and maintain the wastewater treatment system so
property owners had only to pay a monthly maintenance fee. TRLWQ identified
Ozarks Clean Water Company as the RME and expects active service connections to
number in the thousands.

Lack of structural habitat in Table Rock Lake was identified by MDC as a limiting
factor of fish community stability. The Reservoir Fisheries Habitat
Partnership’s reservoir habitat assessment has also identified “lack of
structure” as a major impairment of reservoirs in this region. In 2007, the
Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), in cooperation with Bass Pro Shops,
the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the Arkansas Game &
Fish Commission (AGFC), began working on a five-year project to maintain and
enhance the fish habitat in Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo. This project is part of the NFWF’s National
Fish Habitat Initiative (NFHI) and More Fish Campaign and is designed to be a
pilot project in a broader national program focusing on habitat restoration
within reservoirs. A total of $4.5 million was earmarked to spend on the 5-year
project.

The project began in October 2007 and continued through December 2013 with funding
totaling four million dollars. During this timeframe, a total of 2,024 fish
habitat structures were installed in Table Rock Lake; including 1,797 brush
structures, 114 rock piles, 76 stump fields, 11 rock and stump combination
structures and 26 shallow water rock fence structures. Structure
locations are recorded by GPS and are available to the public on the MDC
website. In addition to the structural habitat portion of the project, eight
cost-share projects for erosion control and sediment reduction in the Table
Rock Lake watershed were initiated.

Habitat improvements to the upper portion of Lake Taneycomo began in November 2011 and
will include large rock structures designed to increase holding areas for trout
and other fish, as well as increase locations for anglers to fish. Project
publicity has been a success, with the cooperation of our various partners and
other media outlets and businesses.

Evaluation and monitoring of the fish habitat structures began in 2010. Four evaluation techniques are utilized,
three of which are underway: electrofishing surveys of habitat treated coves,
SCUBA observations of selected habitat structures and radio-telemetry tracking
of largemouth bass in the Kings River Arm. The fourth evaluation technique, an
angler creel survey, is set to begin in 2012.

The Table Rock Lake NFHI project builds upon a long-standing public/private
partnership in southwest Missouri to improve and restore fish habitat in Table
Rock Lake, Lake Taneycomo and their watersheds through cover augmentation,
watershed management and other water quality-related projects. This
project has proven to be an excellent opportunity to proactively maintain and
enhance fish habitat in and around two of the Midwest’s most popular sport
fisheries and is providing a national example for sustaining and improving
reservoir sportfish populations through large-scale habitat improvements.

Human
Interest/Community Benefit:

The Table Rock Lake NFHI
project builds upon a long-standing public/private partnership in southwest
Missouri to improve and restore fish habitat in Table Rock Lake, Lake Taneycomo
and their watersheds through cover augmentation, watershed management and other
water quality-related projects. The MDC, NFWF, BPS, AGFC, USACE, the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, Southwestern Power Administration, TRLWQ, various
non-government organizations, angler groups and private citizens all worked
cooperatively to ensure the success of this project. This project was an
excellent opportunity to proactively maintain and enhance fish habitat in and
around two of the Midwest’s most popular sport fisheries. This project has
proven to be a national example of sustaining and improving reservoir sport
fish populations through large-scale habitat improvements.

Project Timeline:

The project began in October
2007 and continued through December 2013

Economic Calculator:

Jobs:

66.1481 Total Sales:
USD 5,223,201.41 Value Added:
USD 2,776,592.56 Income:
USD 1,964,128.54

Partners:

Missouri Department
of Conservation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Bass Pro Shops, Arkansas
Game and Fish Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, Table Rock Lake Water Quality, Inc. and various other
non-government organizations, angler groups and private citizens are working
cooperatively to ensure the success of this project.

2012 Waters to Watch