Wednesday, March 31, 2010

John Bame and Fayetteville High School students look at old rail trestle and discarded rail ties blocking construction of city trail through old tunnel under existing Arkansas & Missouri Railroad

I might not have discovered this for some time had not John Bame brought some FHS students to World Peace Wetland Prairie and then taken them on a walk of the Pinnacle Prairie Trail and the part of Tsa-La-Gi Trail as yet uncompleted from the Hill Place Apartments through the old rail tunnel to the west to Razorback Road and beyond. Thanks to the environmentally aware students for caring and wanting to learn more about the delicate geography and geology of our city.
Please click on image to enlarge view of railroad ties over mouth of tunnel and then watch video below the photo to learn reaction of workers when they learned that the ties should not be dumped there.

Rail ties being dumped in mouth of tunnel in Fayetteville AR

Aubrey james | MySpace Video

The Fayetteville city trail administrator telephoned the railroad manager in Springdale an hour later and the railroad official confirmed that the ties were not to be dumped there but were to be dumped at Cato Springs Road. Rail ties are creosoted and very dangerous to human beings and other living things when the chemicals leach into the watershed.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Highway Department plan to stop flow of sediment to Mulberry River from Pig Trail repair site will cost $1.6 million

Please click on byline of Adam Wallworth to go to newspaper online and view full story and previous stories on the pollution of Mountain Creek and the Mulberry River. See video by Tom Shuessler below.  Click on video to find high-definition view on You Tube. Also, watch CAT 18 on Cox Cable at 11 a.m.,  5 p.m. and 11 p.m. today for Schuessler's short slide show and description of what has been happening in recent weeks at the highway construction site on the Pig Trail (Arkansas 23). Programs on CAT also may be viewed simulcast online at at 11 a.m.,  5 p.m. and 11 p.m. today. Click on WATCH ONLINE near right top corner of page.

Highway agency works to stem sediment flow into stream

 — State highway officials have begun work on a $1.6 million plan to stop the flow of sediment from an Arkansas 23 construction project into a Mulberry River tributary as state and federal environmental regulators consider penalties for the pollution.
“Even if they were to completely be able to remediate the site right now, that still doesn’t necessarily resolve any possible penalty,” said Ryan Benefield, deputy director of the Arkansas Departmentof Environmental Quality.
Benefield said the department will continue its enforcement action against the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department while it reviews a mitigation plan that the agency submitted Wednesday.
The plan comes in response to reports by environmental inspector Jeff Tyler, who detailed runoff problems that caused sediment to flow into a tributary of Mountain Creek half a mile downhill from the Arkansas 23 construction site.
Tyler began monitoring the site after a resident about 5 miles downstream complained about sediment in Mountain Creek, which feeds the Mulberry River.
Heavy rains caused the collapse of a 1, 200-foot section of Arkansas 23, a 19-mile stretch also known as the Pig Trail Scenic Byway, in March 2008. A second collapse prompted the state to close the road in December after repair work had begun.
The Highway Department approved a $1.6 million change order to address runoff problems Wednesday.
Most of the mitigation cost - $1.3 million - stems from removing dirt and rocks from the roadbed and alongside Arkansas 23 where contractor Kesser International is rebuilding the road, said Randy Ort, Highway Department spokesman.
That waste material had been leveled, seeded and mulched, but then heavy rain caused it to start sliding, according to officials.
Kesser International has already started building a gravel road to accommodate the heavy equipment needed to remove the material, Ort said.
The flow of underground water that caused the road to collapse in the first place is causing the sediment-runoff problem, Ort said.
Repairs are intended to stabilize the hillside, but there is no guarantee there won’t be another slide.
“It’s going to happen again, maybe not here, but up there again,” Ort said. “We’ve had slides all over north Arkansas, but most don’t impair roadways.”
The mitigation plan also calls for digging a trench along the base of the roadway to direct rainwater into two natural channels, Ort said. The channels will be lined with rock, he said.
The hillside will be seeded and mulched, but until that vegetation takes hold, wattles will be used to control surface runoff. Wattles are similar to sandbags and are used to stop sediment while still allowing water to flow through.
Benefield said he expects his staff to submit a draft consent administrative order next week to outline steps the Highway Department and Kesser International need to take to fix the problem.
At a minimum, the order will require the Highway Department to implement its plan as submitted, Benefield said. The order could include additional remediation steps and a fine.
Biologists have said sediment 2- to 10-inches deep has choked out aquatic life in the tributary and in Mountain Creek, although the pollution dissipates quickly in the Mulberry River.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is also pursuing enforcement action against the Highway Department and was expected to send a notice late Thursday or today, said Kyle Clark, chief of its enforcement branch and regulatory division.
Clark said the Highway Department will have 14 days to respond, but the Corps will likely accept any plan approved by the state environmental department.
State Sen. Ruth Whitaker, R-Cedarville, said she is waiting to hear back from Teresa Marks, director of the Department of Environmental Quality, and will continue to monitor the project. Whitaker questioned Highway Department officials about the runoff problem during the Legislature’s recent fiscal session.
Benefield said the consent administrative order will provide a legal framework to ensure that the Highway Department follows through with its plan and takes any needed future action. He said he expects the department to continue to cooperate.
Benefield couldn’t say whether the Highway Department has been subject to a consent administrative order before.
“I think it is fair to say it is uncommon, given the amount of work performed by the Highway Department,” he said.
Highway officials don’t plan to remove a portion of the spoil material that broke loose and slid into the tributary of Mountain Creek. Biologists have said removing that material could do more harm than good.
Arkansas, Pages 11 on 03/26/2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ask Congress to restore Clean Water Act now

Please double-click "view as webpage" link near top right to see full post.
RiverAlert Header
March 22, 2010
keep our nation's waters are protected under the Clean Water Act
Take Action 
Dear Aubrey,
If you think the Clean Water Act protects your drinking water from pollution, think again. Please take action today to ensure fundamental safeguards for clean water in our streams, rivers, and lakes.
A confusing 2006 Supreme Court decision on the Clean Water Act has left the fate of 60 percent of the nation’s stream miles -– that provide drinking water for 117 million Americans –- in legal limbo. As a result, as reported in The New York Times, polluters are now claiming complete exemptions from reporting what they dump into local streams.
Congress can resolve this problem by passing legislation to restore full federal protection for all our waters. Help us ensure that all of our nation’s waters are protected under the Clean Water Act. Urge your representative to support introducing and passing the Clean Water Restoration Act today.
Thank you for your support.
Sincerely, Katherine Baer Signature Katherine Baer Senior Director, Clean Water Program
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American Rivers ©2010
I would like to express grave concern over the loss of protection for many of our small streams that provide clean drinking water for 117 million Americans in communities across the country. Supreme Court decisions in the Rapanos and Carabell cases have made it confusing and burdensome for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect small streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. As a result, enforcement actions against polluters have declined sharply the EPA estimates that over 1,000 cases have been shelved or dropped altogether. More recently it has become clear that some polluters are using the decisions as a justification to avoid any permitting and reporting requirements for discharging pollutants into our waters. For the Clean Water Act to fulfill its goal of restoring the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters, all waters must receive protection corresponding with Congress' original intent when passing this landmark law. Upstream waters must be protected from pollution and destruction if we expect downstream waters to be fit for swimming, drinking, and fish and wildlife, and downstream communities to be safe from flooding. I urge you to act in the interest of preserving clean water for healthy communities and wildlife. Please support introduction and passage of the Clean Water Restoration Act, which would clarify the definition of waters to eliminate uncertainty and ensure clean water in accordance with the goals of the Clean Water Act. Thank you for your consideration.

Friday, March 12, 2010

World Peace Wetland Prairie spider milkweed, false indigo bush, dogbane, blue-eyed grass and cottontail rabbit photographed on May 21, 2009

Please click on individual images to ENLARGE view of a sample of what you won't see on Earthday at World Peace Wetland Prairie but may see again if you visit in May. Native wildflowers and tall grass emerge later than the typical nonnative species found in many gardens in Arkansas.
Photo above reveals view northwest with Amorpha fructicosa bush in bloom. Also known as false indigo or indigo bush on May 21, 2009, at World Peace Wetland Prairie. Cottontail rabbit reluctant to leave his grazing area and hoping photographer will back away on May 21, 2009, at World Peace Wetland Prairie.
In photo above, the tiny blue-eyed grass is seen growing near a tall dogbane or Indian Hemp plant.
Above, Asclepias viridis, also known as spider milkweed or antelope horns, is nearing full bloom. Viridis is the earliest of the milkweeds to bloom in Northwest Arkansas. Above is an instance of a tall dogbane or Indian hemp plant with a shorter spider milkweed at right. Dogbane seems always to pop out of the ground before the milkweed and the leaves of the two are similar. Both are plentiful at World Peace Wetland Prairie. For more photos of wildflowers at WPWP, please see WPWP wildflowers

Thursday, March 11, 2010

John Pennington requests help planting trees in several watershed spots

JOHN PENNINGTON OF THE Washington County Cooperative Extension Service and who is a member of our Land Use Planning and Green Infrastructuare Committee,  HAS ASKED FOR VOLUNTEER HELP ON CLEAR CREEK:
Here's what John says: 
"....... there are quite a few landowners with large  
streamfront property acreage who are voluntarily implementing  some  
very large riparian buffers during the weeks of

March 15 -19 and  22-26.

I was wondering if any of you and some of your membership base would  
be interested in helping me plant the trees along with these  
landownners in either an "all-star approach" (a few people from a  
few organizations per site - per day) or in an individual  
organizational approach (one organization per site- per day).

I figure this is a great way for your organizations to not only  
achieve a tiny smidge of your missions, make meaningful landowner  
contacts, and  increase membership, but to also help me out during a  
time when I need some help from you or your organization."

Please contact John at:   479-444-1770   or
if you can help out with this very important work.  


To: "Contact IRWP" <>
Subject: PLANT SEEDLINGS IN 2010: IRWP Riparian Project March 13, 2010

Join us in planting 3,000 seedlings at one of the six locations in the 2010 Illinois River Watershed Partnership Riparian Project!  

Forward this message to a friend
Saturday, March 13
9 am to  12 noon
What is a riparian buffer?
A riparian buffer is the area of land next to a creek, stream, or river - the streambanks and floodplain area.  In nature, riparian buffers can include trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers. 
Why are riparian buffers important?
Riparian buffers decrease streambank erosion, filter sediments and pollutants commonly found in runoff, provide stormwater storage, increase wildlife habitat, provide cooler water and air temperatures, and increase groundwater infiltration.  Riparian buffers provide environmental and recreational benefits to creeks, streams, and rivers, and improve water quality and downstream land areas.
How can YOU participate?
You are invited to volunteer at one of the six locations listed below. Activities will include planting green ash, bald cypress, and shortleaf pine seedlings as well as cleaning up trash and debris. Snacks and drinks will be provided.
To volunteer email or call (479) 238-4671
Fayetteville – Clabber Creek meet at Holt Middle School, Rupple Rd
Gentry – Little Flint Creek meet at Eagle Watch Nature Trail, Hwy 12 West
Rogers – Turtle Creek meet at Home Depot northwest parking lot, I-540 Pinnacle exit
Siloam Springs – Sager Creek meet at La-Z-Boy Ballpark fields
Springdale – Spring Creek meet at Grove Street Park
Tahlequah – Townbranch meet at Felts Park, Basin Ave
Partners: Cities of Fayetteville, Gentry, Rogers, Springdale, Siloam Springs, Tahlequah, Arkansas Forestry Commission, Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission,
 Wal-Mart Stores, Sam’s Club, Chick-Fil-A, Snapple, Simmons Foods, Tyson Foods, George’s Inc, Arkansas Farm Bureau, The Nature Conservancy,  Lake Fayetteville Watershed Partnership, UA Ecological Engineering Society
Sager Creek Advisory Commission, Razorback District Boy Scouts, 4-H Clubs

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tom Schuessler's video of desecration of Mountain Creek, a tributary of the Mulberry River, off Arkansas 23

Ask government to treat our rivers properly

RiverAlert Header
March 8, 2010
Take action today
Take Action 
Dear River Advocate,
We need your help today to make destructive Army Corps water projects a thing of the past. Please take action and tell the Obama Administration to base the nation’s water planning on sound science and to ensure a comprehensive, 21st century approach to protect and restore America’s rivers, coasts, and wetlands.
Water projects in our country have a bad history of destroying the environment, endangering public safety and wasting taxpayer dollars. But we have a unique opportunity to change that. The Administration recently proposed revisions to the water resources planning guidelines that dictate how the Army Corps of Engineers and other water agencies plan water projects. The revisions are a good first step forward. However, we need your action to ensure that improvements are made to usher in a new era of water management that fully protects and restores the nation’s wetlands and floodplains  -- our first line of defense against floods and other climate change impacts.
Urge the Administration to improve the proposed guidelines to protect and restore our water resources! The deadline for comments is April 5.
Thank you for your support,
Shana Udvardy Signature
Shana Udvardy
Director, Flood Management Policy
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To update your profile or change your preferences click here
To unsubscribe click here
American Rivers ©2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Northwest Arkansas Times reports on March 6, 2010, streamside public session

Officials Seek Stream Ordinance Input

Sunday, March 7, 2010
Ecologist Sarah Lewis, a member of the Fayetteville City Council, collects organisms Saturday in College Branch on the University of Arkansas campus, while conducting a portion of a streamside protection and education workshop ahead of an effort to adopt a stream-side protection ordinance in Fayetteville.
Ecologist Sarah Lewis, a member of the Fayetteville City Council, collects organisms Saturday in College Branch on the University of Arkansas campus, while conducting a portion of a streamside protection and education workshop ahead of an effort to adopt a stream-side protection ordinance in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
 — Fayetteville residents learned how their activities affect watersheds Saturday during the first of two public education sessions at the City Administration Building.
“Everything that happens in a watershed impacts water quality,” said John Pennington, agriculture and water quality agent for the Washington County Extension Office. “We don’t have control over our watersheds, but we can make good streamside practices.”
According to Karen Minkel, the city’s planning and internal consulting director, Fayetteville’s nutrient reduction plan recommends development and implementation of a streamside protection ordinance. The plan was completed in April as part of an agreement with the Beaver Water District and Fayetteville. The ordinance is part of a series of recommendations aimed at reducing pollution in local waterways, which will improve the health of streams and reduce the costs of treating drinking water.
“The city is doing this because ‘do nothing’ is no longer an option,” Minkel said. “We’ve done some preliminary research, but right now we’re in the early stage of crafting the ordinance.”
In addition to the agreement with the Beaver Water District, the Environmental Protection Agency requires Fayetteville to reduce its phosphorous levels from 1 part per million to 0.1 part per million. The city’s phosphorous level is at 0.4 parts per million.
“In Fayetteville, the most common source of phosphorous in urban and suburban areas is pet waste,” Minkel said. “Nearly, 14,000 pounds of phosphorous could be put in our water annually from pet waste. We can reduce that load by paying attention to what happens up stream so don’t have to spend millions of tax dollars on water treatment.”
According to Pennington, a riparian buffer is a strip of vegetation established next to waterways in managed landscapes designed to capture storm water runoff, nutrients and sediment. The buffers improve habitat for aquatic organisms by lessening the impact of land management practices on waterways.
“A watershed is a common point where all the water in an area drains,” he said. “When water runs across the surface, it drags things with it into streams.”
Pennington said activities and structures near watersheds can have both a positive and a negative impact on water quality.
“Sediment is the number one contaminant of surface water in the U.S.,” he said. “Healthy riparian areas filter many pollutants from runoff water before the pollutants can be connected directly to a stream. Unhealthy riparian areas lead to property loss and accelerated erosion. This can happen due to watershed changes anyway, but does anyone want to bring this upon themselves?”
In addition to educating people about the benefit of healthy watersheds, Minkel said Saturday’s workshop aimed at gaining public input to help shape the streamside ordinance.
Afterward, participants took a short field trip to College Branch, a local stream located at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Razorback Avenue. The site visit, led by Ward 4 Councilwoman Sarah Lewis, aimed at showing participants stream banks and how buffers are measured.
“You’re input will help us decided how many and how big the buffers will be, as well as how they’ll will be measured,” she said. “The size will vary for different streams. People who can’t make it to the public input sessions will have about a month to post additional input online. We don’t anticipate bringing it before an elected or appointed body before July.”
Participants were asked to fill out a form, identifying which streams should be protected and which activities they think should be allowed or prohibited in protected areas. Their input, along with information provided during the workshop will eventually be posted on the city’s Web site,