Welcome to Smithville Lake
recreational boat traffic dwindles as the amount of obstacles in the lake increases.
Much of the upstream area has become a haven for wildlife. “We have more than 6,000 acres of public hunting lands,” Clark said. “A lot of people don’t realize we’ve got so much hunting up here. Of course, there’s a lot of people who do know about it, and they might not want others to hear about it.”
He said the Corps has 32 hunter/fishermen access points and gravel parking lots on the public hunting lands. Part of the Corps-managed land includes the Honker Cove Waterfowl Refuge. There are six hunting zones outside the refuge for waterfowl hunting, which Clark said is a strong tradition in the area.
The wind that washes over the prairies pushes waves of water against the banks of Smithville Lake. The result is high cutbanks that continue to erode as the waves batter them. This is especially a problem around Smithville’s main lake points, which are getting shallower as the waves continue to wash mud from the banks.
The Corps of Engineers, with technical assistance from the Conservation Department, has a million-dollar solution to bank erosion problems at Smithville. They plan to make the vertical banks on the main lake points with the biggest erosion problems slope more gently. They’ll then further protect those banks with riprap walls that extend out into the water.
Smithville Corps of Engineers Operations Manager Bruce Clark said, “It’s a novel project for our district. We’ve always built breakwaters to protect marinas or coves, but this is different. These are being done for soil erosion control and to improve fish habitat.”
Funding for the first phase of the project has been approved, Clark said, and he hopes construction will start on two of the main lake points near the end of the year.
The wave breakers will be well-marked to keep boaters away, and the Corps plans to position them so that they’ll serve as extensions of some of the park’s trails. They’ll have flat tops so people can easily sightsee or fish from the dikes.
As a bonus, the dikes will protect shorelines from the scouring that would normally prevent aquatic plants from growing. The Conservation Department will seed protected areas with vegetation to create even more fish habitat.
“It’s an exciting project,” Clark said. “In addition to controlling erosion and creating fish habitat, the dikes will be fishable, walkable and ADA accessible.”