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Lake life

Making the most of D’Arbonne

Farmerville has a treasure that most communities anywhere would jump through hoops for.

Lake D’Arbonne.

It’s a 16,000 acre jewel. Or as former newspaper editor Sam Hanna declared more than 50 years ago when the lake was built, “A Haven in the Hills.”

Everybody has an opinion about everything when it comes to Lake D’Arbonne. Water levels, aquatic vegetation (that’s what us fishermen call grass in the water), fish limits, launching ramps, fishing tournaments, how to raise money for improvements, etc.

While everybody has a right to their opinion, some are just better than others. And those need to be compiled and acted on. There are some RIGHT things that can and should be done for the lake today, but more importantly in the future. D’Arbonne has been, is, and will be the lifeblood of this community.

That’s why I’m hopeful that 2021 may be the year that all the parties involved in seeing that this enormous resource is maximized for the greatest good of the people. New Farmerville Mayor John Crow wants that. He wants to promote this lake like it’s never been promoted before. We’ve talked about it and again, I’m hopeful that he will be able to get all parties to sit down and talk about a plan — for now and the future — for the lake. And then work that plan.

It means millions and millions of dollars for Farmerville and Union Parish. And it can balance the needs of local residents and tourism and visitors. The key is organization and communication.

As far as I know, the Lake Commission, Tourist Commission, Chamber, City, Parish, Wildlife and Fisheries and local outdoor business leaders have never set down in a room together and talked about this. With Covid, it would have to be done with social distancing, but it’s been put off far too long as it is. Heck, I’d even consider it a step in the right direction to know that the members of these astute groups even READ this and even talked about it over coffee. Or if one of the members would bring it up at their next meeting. That’s a start.

You know why all the big houses are cropping up around the lake and paying millions in property and sales tax along with the ones that are already here? That’s because in the past few years, D’Arbonne has started to come out of the shadows. It’s finally getting the recognition it deserves. There are two choices — move forward or quickly lose ground. There is no sit still.

There are dozens of things to talk about and come to consensus on, all for the greater good. “We’ve always done it that way” or “We can’t do that” is a cop-out for “leave me alone”. Or, in college football terms — it’s an OPT out. A nice way to say I quit. It hope that is NOT the attitude of folks in our area. Listening to others is a good place to start.

One easy thing to talk about is youth programs for fishing. Mayor Crow mentioned that in his campaign as well. Isn’t it a shame that literally hundreds of kids grow up a mile or so from this lake and never hold a fishing pole? Isn’t it a shame that more capital money hasn’t been found to build more public fishing areas so that kids and single moms with kids and old folks can go and stand on solid ground and cast a cricket out to catch a bream?

There are so many opportunities that would increase the quality of life, bring in needed revenue and just make Lake D’Arbonne a better place for everybody, residents and visitors alike. But you have to prioritize, plan and do them one at a time.

Non action comes with a price. The lack of a comprehension bass plan for the lake has led a large number of tournaments to switch to Lake Claiborne and the Ouachita River and Caney.

On the crappie front, the lake has received extensive national publicity due to tournaments, but we still haven’t taken full advantage of that. One major trail, the American Crappie Trail, is not even coming back to D’Arbonne this year for the first time in many years. If they aren’t recruited back, they’ll go elsewhere to some of those communities that are aggressive in seeking growth, not just taking it when they draw a lucky hand. The Crappie Masters will be back for two events this year, including a qualifying tournament in February and the National Championship in September. This is big stuff folks, and it means a lot to this community. You can’t buy the publicity these events give you.

There’s no time like the present.

Folks can either get together to work for the greater good — AND NOT WORRY ABOUT WHO GETS THE CREDIT — or they can just sit on the dock and watch the sun set on a wonderful opportunity that may never pass this way again.

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