PINE BLUFF — The Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center will be closed until further notice. With major flooding expected to hit the area, the City of Pine Bluff will close the gate at Regional Park Road, blocking access to the center and Harbor Oaks Golf Club.
Jason Hooks, facility director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission nature center, says staff will still maintain equipment and care for exhibit animals during the flood, and some animals will be relocated to buildings on higher ground, but public access will not be possible during the anticipated high water.
“When the water reaches 42 feet at the Pine Bluff gauge, the main road is flooded,” Hooks said. “(The National Weather Service) is predicting the river to crest here at or over 49 feet, so we’re making preparations for the flood.”
Hooks says that so far only one planned workshop has had to be rescheduled because of the upcoming closure.
“We’ve had to relocate a Boater Education class to a new place, and we’ve contacted all the participants by email to tell them of the new location,” Hooks said. “With schools beginning to let out for summer, we did not have to cancel any field trips, but the closure may really hurt some of our summer programs if the flood lasts a long time or causes damage to the facilities at the center. We just have to wait and see what hand we’re going to be dealt.”
The last time the nature center was closed because of flooding was in June 2016, when the Arkansas River crested at 46 feet, inundating portions of the center. The highest recorded crest at the Pine Bluff gauge was 52.10 feet in May 1943.