Little Sugar Creek at Bella Vista Park – Bentonville, Arkansas



The Watershed Conservation Resource Center (WCRC) was contacted by the City of Bentonville to develop a conceptual stream restoration design and dam removal plan for the portion of Little Sugar Creek that is affected by the Lake Bella Vista dam and associated impoundment located in Bentonville, Arkansas.  The dam was constructed in 1918 creating what was known as Lake Bella Vista.  Over the course of the nearly 100 years, the lake has been inundated as well as drained for a variety of reasons.  The dam, lake, and adjacent properties were conveyed to the City of Bentonville in 2006.  Since that time, the lake has provided a backdrop to many users of the park who enjoy walking on the multi-use surface that circles the lake.  Several floods have overtopped the dam causing damage to the aging earthen structure including washout of the downstream embankment and the development of seeps that had the potential to threaten the structure. In Spring of 2021 the flood waters overtopped the dam and scoured the earth below the dam, causing the dam to breach. WCRC will take mitigative steps to reduce hazards and control the evolution of the dam breach.  The dam has been deemed to be high-hazard structure under dam safety regulations of the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.  A group of citizens who would like to see the dam removed altogether, establishing a free flowing stream through the park vocalized their desires to the City.  As a result of revised permit requirements and citizen feedback, the City is considering an alternative to reconstruction of the dam that includes dam removal and stream restoration.

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