Garner honored for his lifelong commitment to the environment of the Greers Ferry Lake area
One of the most decorated environmentalists in the state, Carl Garner is best known for his work on the Greers Ferry Lake recreational facilities. Basically, the beautiful Greers Ferry Lake we know today wouldn't exist without him.
“Greers Ferry Lake would become Carl Garner's life's work, and today you cannot mention one without mentioning the other," said former Sen. David Pryor. Garner spent 58 years as an employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and was one of the longest serving federal employees in our nation's history. He served as resident engineer of Greers Ferry Lake since its construction in 1959 until 1996 when he retired, but the work he did there went beyond engineering.
In 1970, Garner created the first annual lakeshore cleanup program which led to a law enacted by Sen. Dale Bumpers creating the Carl Garner Federal Lands Cleanup Day, a program requiring all of the nation’s land management agencies to set aside a day to clean and restore their properties. This also led Carl to receive the very first Iron Eyes Cody Award, the highest honor bestowed on an individual from Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s largest community improvement organization.
The pioneering work Garner has done and profound impact his efforts continue to have is why he’s being recognized as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar.
In celebration of its 25th anniversary, the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission is recognizing 25 individuals as Lodestars for guiding their neighborhoods and communities in an effort to keep Arkansas clean, green and free of litter. A lodestar is someone who serves as an inspiration, model or guide.
Garner’s passion for the environment led him to serve on the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission and on the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Foundation board of directors. His talent for engineering led him to be in charge of preparations for the dedication of Greers Ferry Dam by President John F. Kennedy. During the dedication, the last public works project of Kennedy’s life, Garner stood on the podium next to the president.
The list of awards bestowed on Garner for his efforts in engineering, beautification and preservation is extensive. He received the Social Service Award for the dedication of the Greers Ferry Project, National Water Safety Congress, Corps of Engineers Meritorious Service Award & Bronze Medal, as well as special appreciation awards from Governors David Pryor and Bill Clinton, and Congressman Bill Alexander. He also received the Award of Excellence from Chief of Engineers as No. 1 Resident Engineer out of 440 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes. Garner earned the highest civilian award the Army can bestow, the Department of the Army Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service award, and was named Employee of the Year in Federal Service in Arkansas.
His last project before retiring in 1996 was to secure appropriations for a new Greers Ferry Information Center. The William Carl Garner Visitor Center was named in his honor.
Through Garner's efforts to make Greers Ferry Lake a natural, beautiful Arkansas retreat, he introduced innumerable families to the outdoors.
"Carl Garner had a vision," Sen. Pryor said. "He was an environmentalist long before the word became common in our vernacular. Carl's vision was that Greers Ferry Lake should be pollution-free and should reflect the natural beauty and landscape of the region. Greers Ferry Lake should be a model for the nation, and today, it is the pearl in our nation's inventory of multiple purpose man-made lakes. "