Arkansas Timberlands Partners With the State to Expand Fishing and Recreation Access in Dierks

Thanks to an agreement between Weyerhaeuser and the state of Arkansas, Dierks City Pond will be available as a community resource for years to come. Recently, Weyerhaeuser representatives and state and local officials toured the site, including John Drake, recreational lease manager, Southern Timberlands; Katie Thomsen, fisheries biologist, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Dylan Hann, district supervisor, AGFC; Walt Smith, Cossatot area manager, Southern Timberlands; and Cpl. John Partain, Howard County game warden.

For nearly a century, residents of Dierks, Arkansas, have secretly honed their fishing skills at Dierks City Pond. For most of that time, the pond has been used as a stand-by resource for our lumber mill’s fire-suppression systems and has been off-limits to the public. But that didn’t stop residents — including Michael Stokes, now our Arkansas-Oklahoma Timberlands wood flow manager — from sneaking in for a few casts.

“I cherish my memories of fishing there,” he says. “So I’m thrilled we have a new agreement to grant everyone in the community access to the pond.”

He’s referencing a new 10-year agreement the Timberlands team (which now manages the pond site) recently signed with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to officially open public access to Dierks City Pond.

An aerial view of Dierks City Pond, a man-made reservoir created in the 1920s.

An aerial view of Dierks City Pond, a man-made reservoir created in the 1920s. Long used as a stand-by resource for the fire suppression systems at our Dierks lumber mill, in 2020 the property transitioned to our local Timberlands team for management.


The pond was created in the 1920s when an earthen berm was constructed to form a reservoir fed by Long Hollow Creek. The gated pond served as a water supply for our nearby sawmill, primarily as a stand-by resource for its fire-suppression systems. When we opened our new Dierks mill in 2018, its modernized fire-suppression technologies rendered the reservoir unnecessary for that purpose.

Those new systems turned out to the be first step toward public access. In 2020, the mill transitioned property management to our local Timberlands team, which began discussions with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to explore management of the pond as both a wildlife habitat and a public recreation area.

"Opening it up means everyone will have the same opportunity I did," Michael says. “There’ll be no more sneaking around.”

The pond is less than a mile from downtown, easily reachable by foot or bike. Spanning 883 feet at its widest point, it offers anglers the chance to cast their lines from almost any bank to fish nearly the entire pond.

"As part of the agreement, the state will conduct fish surveys and make stocking decisions based on the results," says John Drake, recreational lease manager. “Even so, it's already a good place to fish. I’ve walked the pond’s edge and seen fingerling bass, and I heard there are bream, too.”

AGFC is also expected to improve a parking area and boat launch on the pond's southwest side, while also patrolling the area and enforcing state fishing regulations.

Image of the Dierks City Pond, which is now a public resource available to everyone.

Thanks to the collaboration with AGFC, the pond is now a public resource available to everyone.


“We’re committed to working in partnership with the state to make Dierks City Pond a public treasure,” says Walt Smith, Cossatot Timberlands area manager. “We want it to be a special place for the community.”

Walt envisions Weyerhaeuser volunteers taking part in brush-cutting and trash pick-up activities next spring or summer. We’ve operated in Dierks and Howard County since 1969, when we acquired several mills and 1.8 million acres of timberland from Dierks Lumber and Coal Company. Located in the foothills of the scenic Ouachita Mountains, our 166,000-acre footprint in Howard County includes about 31,000 acres of public access land. Dierks City Pond adds about 47 more acres.

“Public land access is one of the many ways we have given back to Dierks and Howard County over the years,” says Paul Durfield, senior manager of our Recreational Lease program. “This includes everything from grants for environmental stewardship and natural disaster recovery to employee volunteerism for various local causes.”

This agreement represents the latest in a series of collaborative initiatives with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, underscoring our ongoing commitment to the region's environmental and recreational well-being.

"Dierks City Pond is a great example of our core values of citizenship and sustainability,” Paul says. “It shows we're dedicated to creating public spaces that improve our community and work harmoniously with nature.”