Boating and fishing at Lake Sequoyah will soon be free.
City Council members on Tuesday voted 8-0 to approve an ordinance to permanently remove all boating and fishing permit fees at the southeast Fayetteville lake. The move was also supported by the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board at its Aug. 1 meeting.
Lake Sequoyah is one of three city-managed lakes along with Lake Fayetteville and Lake Wilson.
There is no cost for activities at Lake Wilson, but boating and fishing at the city’s other two lakes have for years carried varying fees. Fishing from a boat costs $6 per day for most people, while people fishing from the bank pay $3 daily. Annual passes are $50 for boating and fishing or $30 for fishing There are discounted rates for seniors and veterans.
City staff said longtime marina manager Mike Carver recently retired and his departure prompted an evaluation of the 1,400-acre Lake Sequoyah park, which includes the 389-acre lake.
Alison Jumper, the city’s director of parks, natural resources and cultural affairs, said permits at Lake Sequoyah generate between $14,000-$16,000 annually. Carver’s salary was $39,000 per year.
Aside from saving the city money, Jumper said she hopes waiving the fees will remove financial barriers and make fishing and boating more available to the entire community. Another benefit, Jumper said, is without fees, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission could legally stock the lake with fish, and could potentially host events like beginner fishing clinics and tagged fishing contests.
The city purchased the lake property in 1958, and constructed the lake as a water supply reservoir, according to the city’s website. The city stopped using the lake as a water supply in the 1960s when the Beaver Water District became the primary source of water for the region.
The area is noted for its bird population, which includes Great Blue Heron, American Bald Eagle and Belted Kingfisher. The lake is home to crappie, bass, catfish and redear sunfish. Aside from fishing and boating, Lake Sequoyah includes hiking trails and nature areas, along with a bait shop, a picnic area and public restrooms at the marina at 6608 E. Lake Sequoyah Drive.
The ordinance approved by the council on Tuesday will go into effect after 30 days. An Arkansas fishing license will still be required to fish per state law.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed Mike McBride as the recent manager who retired. The correct name is Mike Carver.