Significant changes are in the works for privately owned boat houses and piers on many Arkansas Game and Fish Commission lakes.
A new land use policy has been drafted by the Fisheries Division of the AGFC.
It will be presented to the agency's commissioners at their July meeting, and if approved, the new rules will go into effect Jan. 1. Persons holding permits to structures on AGFC land around the lakes have been notified by mail of the proposed new rules.
The policy is for all AGFC lakes in the state, but Mike Armstrong, AGFC's fisheries chief, said, "Lake Conway has by far the most structures around it. There are close to a thousand structures (boat houses, docks and piers) on Conway."
Of the many AGFC lakes in the state, 25 have riparian structures, Armstrong said, meaning boat houses, docks and piers owned by private citizens owning adjacent land.
Under the proposed new land use policy, all structure permits will increase from $5 to $10 per year.
Metal markers or placards with the permit numbers and a registration sticker must be purchased for a one-time fee of $25. The stickers must be placed onto the structure and will change colors each year, similar to vehicle licenses. These will be for all AGFC lakes. Highlights of the statewide land use policy:
* Permits are required for boat houses, bank stabilizing, dredging for boat access, piers, herbicide and pesticide use and deepening the shoreline.
* No permits are required for non-elevated walkways, clearing brush, fish attractors, removing dead timber and planting trees and shrubs.
* Prohibited on AGFC land are septic systems, irrigation systems, fences, discharges, storage sheds, animal pens, burning, private boat ramps, permanent party barges, water wells, gardens, cutting trees, dog houses, satellite dishes, livestock, storage of personal property, seawalls or retaining walls and concrete slabs and patios.
* Shoreline stabilizing work is allowed with approval of the district fisheries biologist, but this will not include cutting into the shoreline, digging canals, building walls or constructing swimming beaches.
* New boat houses, docks and piers must conform to uniform plans that are available from AGFC. Existing fishing piers and boat houses that presently comply with the existing policy will be grandfathered into the new policy -- they will not need to comply with the new construction specifications unless undergoing a major renovation. The plans are free.