Cane Creek State Park in southeast Arkansas occupies an environmentally significant setting on the border of two of the state’s geographic regions, the flat Mississippi Alluvial Plain (the Delta) and the rolling West Gulf Coastal Plain. Located on the shore of Cane Creek Lake, the park provides for recreational activities that include camping, picnicking, fishing, kayaking, hiking, and wildlife watching.
The park, a joint project of state and federal agencies, grew out of a 1973 proposal by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) to develop a lake and park near Star City (Lincoln County) to enhance recreational opportunities in southeast Arkansas, although legislation authorizing the creation of the park had passed two years earlier. The state parks department entered into an agreement to acquire, develop, and manage the park area, while the AGFC would construct and manage the lake. Another party to the agreement was the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service (now Natural Resources Conservation Service).
Federal funding for land acquisition was made available in 1973 on a fifty-percent matching basis with the state. Additional land was purchased in 1976, and park acquisition was complete, with a park superintendent on site in 1981.
Construction of the 1,675-acre lake began in 1983 with the building of a 4.75-mile levee that dammed Cane Creek at its confluence with Bayou Bartholomew and impounded the creek’s waters. The lake area was flooded and stocked with fish in 1986. In 1987, the lake opened for fishing.
Funding for constructing and equipping park facilities was provided through legislative appropriations in 1989 and matched with federal funds. Construction of roads and facilities began in 1990. Progress had been slow due to budgetary constraints in the 1970s and 1980s, but after twenty-one years of work, the park opened on May 18, 1992, with dedication ceremonies held on July 8, 1992.
Most of the lake is heavily timbered. Sport fish inhabiting the lake include largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, bluegill, and redear sunfish. Fauna on Cane Creek Lake and Bayou Bartholomew include alligators and ospreys. Both species live in the area year round. Bald eagles are sometimes seen at the park in winter. A mature oak, pine, and hickory forest covers ninety percent of the park.
Park facilities include a visitors’ center with interpretive exhibits, campsites with water and electrical hookups, a picnic area, a screened pavilion, hiking trails, a boat launch ramp, and fishing piers. The park began renting kayaks and offering guided kayak tours on the lake and Bayou Bartholomew in 2000. In addition to guided kayak tours, park interpretive programs include birding walks, guided hikes, camping workshops, and astronomy programs.
For additional information:
Arkansas State Parks–Cane Creek. http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/canecreek/ (accessed June 4, 2014).
Staff of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
Staff of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture