In the 1970s, a group of amazing Arkansans banded together and stopped a 232-mile channelization plan for the Cache River and Bayou DeView in the heart of the Delta’s Big Woods. Only seven miles of the lower Cache were ditched before the project was halted. Now, some of the same people who saved the river back then are working together to restore what was lost.
Supported by many generous donors, The Nature Conservancy and its partners broke ground on the restoration in June 2013, and boy has there been progress!
“Thanks to the Corps of Engineer’s contractor, Riverside Construction, and some great weather, things are moving even faster than we had hoped,” said Jason Milks, the Conservancy’s Delta projects manager.
The restoration involves removing earthen plugs between the historic meandering channel and the current straight ditch, and constructing rock weirs to direct water from the ditch back into the historic channel. As of November 2013, crews had constructed all riverbank protection structures, removed the first of two channel plugs, built a quarter of the first weir, and finished preparation work for the next steps.
When finished, this stretch of the Cache River will once again teem with native fish. And the soil that has been washing from the ditch and clouding waters downstream will instead stay put and nourish the surrounding bottomland forest.
A special thank you to all the project’s donors and partners including the City of Clarendon, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Ducks Unlimited, Audubon Arkansas, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and local landowners who have worked closely together to make this vision a reality.