Millwood Lake is a reservoir created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The shoreline is interspersed with standing dead timber, live cypress, and marsh-emergent vegetation. Surrounding the reservoir are hardwood, coniferous, and mixed forests. Primarily, Millwood Lake serves as a flood-control reservoir but, secondarily, it provides a water supply for local industry, nearby municipalities, and supports many recreational interests that include bird-watching, butterfly-watching, camping, boating, fishing, hunting, and nature photography. Millwood State Park is 835 acres and managed by Arkansas State Parks. It offers various recreational opportunities as well.
Millwood Lake supports the following species considered by Audubon as vulnerable in Arkansas: breeding Hooded Mergansers, Mississippi Kites, Bald Eagles, Purple Gallinules, Common Moorhens, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Prothonotary Warblers, Painted Buntings and Baltimore Orioles. The specific densities of these breeding populations have not been formally determined. Millwood also provides an important foraging area for these vulnerable species: Anhingas, Tricolored Herons, Black-crowned Night-Herons, Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, White Ibis, and Wood Storks. Millwood Lake is an important stopover point for migrating Ospreys during both spring and fall; breeding has been confirmed. This site regularly supports 10,000 waterfowl (excluding snow geese) or more. 16 species of ducks are regular winter residents. Depending upon the severity or mildness of the winter season, both in Arkansas and regions to the north, numbers may fluctuate widely. Mallard and Gadwall are the most numerous surface feeders. Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, and Ruddy Duck are the most numerous divers. Greater Scaup, less frequent inland, is a regular winter resident. Flocks of up to 41 birds have been observed. The site regularly supports 25 breeding pairs or more of wading birds. While there are no confirmed wading bird rookeries located within the Millwood Lake IBA area, large post-breeding roosts do form in the western regions of the lake and at the Okay Dike. Large rookeries do exist nearby to the south within the Hempstead County Hunting Club(Grassy Lake) and to the west-northwest in the Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge, and many of these birds forage at Millwood Lake. Millwood Lake regularly supports 2,000 gulls or more. Although dependent upon the severity of each winter season, gull populations are variable but do exceed 2,000 individuals annually. Most common are Ring-billed Gulls, but up to 700-800 Bonaparte's Gulls may also be present. Herring Gulls are the least frequent. Occassional Glaucous, Black-headed, and Little Gulls and Black-legged Kittiwakes also appear. Fall counts of migrating Broad-winged Hawk vary from the hundreds to a peak count of 6300+ individuals on September 21, 1991. There are historical counts of over-wintering Bald Eagles at Millwood Lake in excess of 100 birds. Recent counts have been under that threshold but this is believed due to the milder winter seasons of late rather than the loss of suitable habitat or food sources.
Sedimentation and vegetation are filling up Millwood Lake, cutting off access for boating and fishing. Some stakeholders want the lake?s water level permanently raised by 3 feet to regain access. A permanent flood will wipe out important marsh habitat. An Army Corps of Engineers study determined that sedimentation occurs through a combination of vegetation decomposition (both exotic and native invasive species), predominant winds, farmland runoff, soil erosion, and a lack of flushing by incoming rivers. Their recommendation is winter draw downs every 3 years. Draw downs will control fish populations, control invasive plants by exposing them to freezing, prevent vegetation from re-establishing, and allow dredging. Although the dam could support a rise in water level, surrounding land uses could be negatively affected. The Corps is continuing to study and monitor the situation as they plan for a draw down.
The Millwood Lake Corps of Engineers Office is aware of the IBA program and has assisted in the preparation of this nomination. In the year 2000, they established the "Wings and Things" Nature Festival. Attendance has ranged from 900-1200 individuals each year. Programs at "Wings and Things" festivals include speakers, audio-visual presentations, and field trips that showcase the birds, other fauna, and flora of the Millwood Lake area.
Millwood Lake is primarily maintained for flood contraol and public recreation. Water is supplied for use at the Domtar Paper Mill in Ashdown and for the cities of Hope and Texarkana, Arkansas, and Texarkana, Texas.