Friday, August 29, 2008

Diverse plants and wildlife call World Peace Wetland Prairie home on August 29, 2008

Please click on images to ENLARGE photos of butterflies and flowers and tall grass on August 29, 2008, on World Peace Wetland Prairie.

First and second photos above feature a monarch butterfly nectaring on native thistles on World Peace Wetland Prairie. Native thistles are NOT outlawed and are exceptionally valuable to butterflies, bees and numerous species of birds.
The following two photos (below) feature Centaurea Americana, the American basketflower, surrounded by Demaree's gaura or Gaura demareei, and Dematree's gaura is seen up close in the fifth photo.

Gaura demareei above.
A small, pale butterfly rests on tall grass in the sixth photo (below).

Florida lettuce above (Latuca floridana) above.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blast from past: Reasons for protecting wetland not common knowledge among politicians

Posted 8/29/04 on
First posted on http"// in 2004
Coody finally keeps promise but doesn't stay long

Aubrey's Notebook:
Mayor's Request Would Have Council Ignore Task Force Report
Recommends Putting All Tree, Trail Money Into One Purchase
Mayor Dan Coody visits Town Branch watershed August 23, 2004, fullfilling a promise made in March.

It seems that Mayor Dan Coody is in a big rush to get the Fayetteville City Council to ignore the recommendation of the city's Tree and Trail Task Force and use the full remaining $100,000 from the Steele Crossing lawsuit settlement to acquire 2.44 acres of mostly steep woodland on South West Avenue from renowned architect Fay Jones.
The reason is that there is a deadline to act on the offer to Fay Jones. If that deadline were extended, then maybe there could be a bit more discussion.
I agree that Jones' property must be protected. He bought it more than 35 years ago and has kept it in nearly pristine condition ever since.
I admire and respect Fay Jones for protecting the land all these years and believe he should be paid properly for it. However, both parcels are important and environmentally sensitive and must be protected for their conservation value. There has to be a way to acquire and protect both areas. Such places are disappearing rapidly inside Fayetteville and all over Northwest Arkansas.
Many people who have known me a long time realize that I can't imagine how anyone could disturb Jones' parcel and can't really understand why this progressive city hasn't gotten further in developing ordinances that would protect steep slopes, woodland and wetland.
I believe that the city of Rogers got several steps ahead of us with its recently passed storm-water regulations, which require a bit more than ours.
The wonderful thing is that Fayetteville still has many creeks, while Rogers and Springdale have ditched and paved many of theirs. Rogers is trying to restore a portion of the Osage Creek through the city to something similar to the meandering stream it was originally, after many years as a giant, paved ditch.
The situation reminds me of the rush in the 1980s and 90s to channelize a magnificent bayou through Little Rock!
I read that some portion of that cypress-lined stream is now under public protection. I floated and waded much of it before the Gazette closed in 1991. I caught a lot of bass but ate none of them!
Springdale has a plan to UNCOVER a portion of Spring Creek downtown to become a part of its revitalized downtown. Those cities recognize their mistakes and are trying to re-create part of what was destroyed at great cost. Basically, we need to provide stronger regulation of stream riparian zones and the adjacent wetland areas.
This brings us back to the topic at hand. The Tree and Trail Task Force decided in the fall of 2003 to try to buy the 2.46 acres of wetland prairie off S. Duncan Ave. An appraisal came in lower than the developer expected, but the task force was under the impression that public money could be used only to pay the appraised price, thus the members suggested that Mayor Coody try to negotiate. Negotiation stalled because the developer needed more than the appraised price to cover his losses.
At the developer's request, I met with the mayor in his office and invited him to walk the Town Branch watershed with me. He was busy in March but said he would come out later in the spring.
Dan finally spent 45 minutes or so with me in the Town Branch watershed Aug. 23, 2004, but I wasn't able to share with him all the reasons that this prairie wetland deserves city protection.
The nice thing was that the mayor got to see a DRY wetland prairie, something that would have been impossible in spring or early this summer. Some of the wettest land had dried and cracked in the few places where the vegetation was exposed.\
There was a small spot where one of the neighbors had mowed a path into the 2-acre wetland prairie off S. Duncan between 11th and 12th streets and knocked over three or four chimneys created by Ozark burrowing crayfish. I tried to explain that these are not the stream or swamp crawdads of the south that I knew in Louisiana or Dan knew growing up in southeast Texas.
These are crawdads that live in the aquifers under the prairies and partially wooded wetland areas paralleling the streams in many places in the Ozarks. They are also known as Osage burrowing crayfish, if one searches online.
Yes, some are big enough to eat! If you toss them into the creek they will try to find their way back to the prairie!
Such prairies as the acreage around our home, including our yard, absorb water and allow it to drain into the aquifer.
When the ground dries out as it finally did in mid-August this year, that land is ready to soak up several inches of rain when it comes. That was what I was trying to explain to Dan Coody. The floods of late April and early July occurred after the wetland prairie areas in Fayetteville, especially in the watershed of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River, were holding all the water they could because of almost daily rain.
The failure of stormwater detention ponds designed to slow runoff from newly roofed and paved areas contributed to the worst muddying of Beaver Lake since the dam was built in the 1060s. Smallmouth bass can be expected to fail to reproduce in the streams affected by the siltation. Many less well-known species will be in the same situation. Life thrives in clear water running over clean rock.
Engineering can't replace that natural storm-water protection. Protecting every vegetated acre that can be protected is the only key to keeping a bit of Northwest Arkansas as it was when I first lived here in the '60s.
There will be grant money to help restore such areas not only to protect people such as some of my neighbors whose home flooded three different nights in 2004 but also to provide habitat for birds and other wildlife and to offer wildflowers and other natural beauty.
Anyone who has studied our Web site, , can imagine how many hours Lauren and I spent last year documenting just a few species of native flowering plants and typical prairie grass on the 2 acres behind our home, the part of the 2.46 acres that was approved by the city planning commission for 36 apartment units in May 2003. In June 2003, the Corps of Engineers issued the developer a permit for the site.\
However, James Mathias, the developer, agreed to delay development to give our neighborhood's Town Branch Neighborhood Association time to buy the land for preservation. In May 2004, his development permit was renewed for another year and he agreed again to delay work on the project to give us more time.
With the few wooded and prairie acres to the north between 11th and 6th streets along the Town Branch west of Hill Avenue slated for development and the many acres being developed on the west arm of the Town Branch west of Razorback Road, such small parcels of prairie wetland become increasingly important in storm-water protection along the Town Branch and in preventing further siltation of Beaver Lake.
I can't possibly share a lifetime outdoors with others well enough to make them understand why I care about these things. But Stormwater II regulations spell out the federal rules. Links to those rules may be found on this Web site.
Over and over, I have been told by employees of the Corps of Engineers and national and state environmental agencies that "your city can make stronger rules."

They KNOW that the federal rules are a weak compromise.

The bulk of the Wilson Spring prairie wetland is doomed to be developed. The part that remains can help educate the public about the value of such places in the Illinois River watershed.
Our neighborhood wetland prairie offers similar value as a demonstration area for owners of parcels small and large in the White River watershed. It was never plowed by the farmers in the first half of the 20th century and it was never built upon when the land was subdivided in the 1950s. The reasons are obvious.
Aubrey James Shepherd
Fayetteville, AR © 2003, 2004, 2005

Site design by Lauren Hawkins' LDHdesign

A new proposal by the Bush/Cheney Administration would gut the law that protects polar bears, wolves and other endangered species

CREDO Action from Working Assets is proud to bring you an urgent alert from our friends at Defenders of Wildlife.

The Bush administration has announced a new proposal that would gut the Endangered Species Act — one of America's most important environmental laws. Now Defenders of Wildlife needs our help to preserve the vital checks and balances that protect our polar bears, wolves and other imperiled animals.

I urge you to read the message below from Defenders of Wildlife's president, Rodger Schlickeisen, and take action today to save our endangered species.

Michael Kieschnick
President, CREDO Mobile
Emergency Action
A new proposal by the Bush/Cheney Administration would gut the law that protects polar bears, wolves and other endangered species.
Urge your Representative and Senators to help stop the Bush/Cheney plan to gut the Endangered Species Act.
Dear Wildlife Supporter,
With less than 160 days left in power, the Bush/Cheney Administration has launched an unprecedented backdoor assault on America's endangered species!
Don't let them get away with it. Urge your Representative and Senators to do everything in their power to stop the Bush/Cheney Administration's eleventh-hour assault on America's wildlife.
For more than 30 years, the Endangered Species Act has protected wildlife at risk of extinction. Now the Bush/Cheney Administration wants to eliminate vital checks and balances that are crucial to protect our polar bears, wolves and other imperiled wildlife.
Please help protect endangered animals from the Bush/Cheney Administration's attack. Take action now.
Announced earlier this week, the Bush/Cheney proposal would severely limit scientific review by the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service of projects that could harm imperiled wildlife. And it would explicitly limit the ability of these expert agencies to consider how greenhouse gas emissions from such projects could impact polar bears, wolverines and other wildlife that may go extinct due to global warming.
Instead, agencies proposing projects such as highways, dams, mines, oil or gas drilling and virtually any other activity would be allowed to decide for themselves whether a project is likely to impact any of the nearly 1,400 species currently protected by the Endangered Species Act — without the crucial independent review now provided by scientific experts at the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Many of these agencies do not even have biologists or other qualified staff to make such a determination.
Even worse, the new regulations would impose a brief 60-day review period for agencies, making it even less likely that anyone involved in the process will have the time or expertise to fully evaluate the potential harmful effects of a given project on sensitive wildlife or the habitat it needs to survive.
Help stop the Bush/Cheney Administration's assault on protections for our endangered species. Please take action now.
There are less than 160 days left in the Bush/Cheney Administration — and even less time for your Members of Congress to act. Please take action now to help stop the Bush/Cheney Administration's last-minute attempt to eliminate effective protections for the wildlife that you and I love.
Rodger Schlickeisen
Defenders of Wildlife

P.S. Two years ago, Defenders of Wildlife led the fight that stopped Congressional legislation that would have gutted the Endangered Species Act. Now we need your help to stop the Bush Administration from trying to do the same thing. Please take action now!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Why isn't this a rain garden instead of a raised garden?

Please click on IMAGE to ENLARGE view of a raised island flower garden with rain water standing around it. There are thousands of such expensive, wasteful "unsustainable" put-and-take flower gardens in Northwest Arkansas. City planning regulations should FORBID such abominations.

A raingarden in the same spot would be created BEFORE the lot was covered with red dirt for paving, using the natural soil found in all the former prairie areas such as along Fayetteville's Martin Luther King Boulevard. Paving would be sloped to allow water to flow into these gardens instead of into storm drains. This would allow these original-soil patches to harbor native species of grass and wildflowers that would NEVER require watering. The excess water could soak through to the natural aquifer and be cleansed by the soil and plants. In dry periods, the plants would become dormant but revive when moisture returns. Landscape architects and planners know how to do these things. Why are they not required by law?
Someone might suggest that cars would drive into the ground-level or depressed garden spots. But a simple barrier a few inches off the ground instead of a concrete curb would prevent this and would not cost any more than a curb.

Friday, August 15, 2008

What Red Oak Park may soon look like!

ANTHONY REYES Northwest Arkansas Times Bill McCoy, with Elk River Construction based in Pagosa Springs, Colo., stacks rocks to repair the bank in an unnamed creek that runs through Gulley Park Thursday in Fayetteville. The company has been contracted to perform work necessary to keep excessive bank erosion from occurring along the creek.The city of Fayetteville is working with the Watershed Conservation Resource Center to restore a 1, 200-foot section of an unnamed tributary of Mud Creek, which flows through Gulley Park and is located in the Illinois River watershed.

Restoration work begins on Gulley Park stream
BY SUSANNAH PATTON Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2008

The city of Fayetteville is working with the Watershed Conservation Resource Center to restore a 1, 200-foot section of an unnamed tributary of Mud Creek, which flows through Gulley Park and is in the Illinois River watershed.
According to City Engineer Ron Petrie, land use changes upstream from the site have impacted the stability of the channel over the years. The section of the tributary has several banks eroding into parkland, contributing to excessive sediment in the stream through lateral erosion.
The main purpose of the restoration is to stabilize the whole creek system through the park and improve the safety of the creek, Petrie said.
“ We have some high drop-offs in the area, some of them 8 feet high, where children are playing, ” he said. “ We know it’s going to continue to erode if we do nothing, which will damage the park and continue to hurt any type of habitat in the creek. ”
The project is being funded through an Environmental Protection Agency grant awarded to the resource center and the city through the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.
It’s a cost-share project, Petrie said, with the city paying $ 141, 200 of the total cost of $ 262, 200.
The Watershed Conservation Resource Center has designed a natural channel that will reduce sediment from the banks, stabilize the banks and enhance the aquatic habitat.
Approximately 450 feet of stream bank is being stabilized by constructing rock structures and other features that will deflect flow away from banks. Rock clusters are being used to create additional habitat features.
Matthew Van Eps, associate director of the resource center, said the company doing the restoration work is Elk River Construction of Pagosa Springs, Colo.
“ They have been doing stream restoration work for 15 years for one of the leading stream restoration practitioners, Dave Rosgren, ” he said. “ This is one of our first projects so we wanted to make sure we got someone exceptionally well-qualified to do the project. ”
Van Eps said the project is designed to achieve multiple goals. It will address the city’s concern, he said, which is the safety aspect with the creek being adjacent to walking trails, and the resource center’s goals.
“ Our interest in the restoration project is to reduce sedimentation associated with stream bank erosion, ” he said. “ The sediment has an impact both in the local sense, right there in the stream, and it also impacts the Illinois River watershed, which is one of the primary watersheds in Northwest Arkansas.
“ Reducing sediment improves the water quality, the aquatic habitat and the general ecology of the stream. ”
The city is also working on a project to restore about 1, 000 feet of an unnamed tributar y of Hamestring Creek in Red Oak Park.
The developers of Ruskin Heights donated 1, 200 tons of rock for both projects, resulting in a cost savings to the city of about $ 33, 600.
Rocks of the same size and shape from a quarry would have cost the city $ 30 per ton for a total of $ 36, 000. The city paid $ 2 per ton to transport the rocks from Ruskin Heights for a total of $ 2, 400.
Copyright © 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

NO COAL meeting Wednesday August 13th 7pm

Molly Rawn
OHG Sierra Club, Chair
(479) 879-1620

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: James Burke
Date: Mon, Aug 11, 2008 at 6:05 PM
Subject: Important NO COAL meeting Wednesday August 13th 7pm
Hi everyone,

We had a successful tour traveling the state last week showing the documentary "Fighting Goliath" and talking with community groups about forming a no new coal coalition. Check out these links for an update:
So far we have set up 'Clean Air Arkansas' groups in Fayetteville, Little Rock, Conway, and Hope to oppose the construction of new coal-fired power plants.

This Wednesday August 13th at 7pm we will meet in Fayetteville to discuss in more detail our campaign and delegate roles to people who are committed to this effort. Please join us and invite your friends and family. Time is running out and we need to come together to stop these coal plants

Here is the address for the meeting this Wednesday:
United Campus Ministry
Omni Center
902 W Maple St
Fayetteville, AR

Also, Maggie Bailey, a volunteer in Fayetteville has asked to coordinate events while I am in Little Rock so you can email either her or me for more questions about our campaign. Here is Maggie's email:

Hope to see you at the meeting. Thanks for your support.



Monday, August 11, 2008

Fran Alexander's Northwest Arkansas Times column urges governor to persuade commission to use gas money for habitat preservation, restoration

Fran Alexander
Posted on Monday, August 11, 2008

“Anyone who can solve the problems of water will be worthy of two Nobel prizes — one for peace and one for science.” — John F. Kennedy If you read my July 28 article “Frack, rattle, and roll,” about the Fayetteville Shale gas drilling, you know that all that glitters is not necessarily pure gold. In the case of natural gas being released from “fracked” shale strata under several counties in central Arkansas, the big money being made there is awash with serious costs as well. Politicians blinded by the prospect of billions glutting the state economy have generally ignored these costs. So far, none of the money to be garnered from a severance tax on the gas bonanza or from leases has been specifically earmarked for environmental protection costs.
We often read about green issues with a lulled feeling of security that the network of laws and regulations in our country will protect us individually and collectively from dire ecological and financial consequences. It’s time to burst that bubble. Federal oil and gas production exemptions abound to the point that one is left feeling we are living on a wild, lawless frontier where random bullets of enviro horrors whiz by our heads daily. (See: www. earthworksaction. org / pubs / PetroleumExemptions 1 c. pdf ) Most citizens are also on their own financially when dealing with leases, taxes and the complicated jungle of resource prospectors. It seems even the state is not too sure what is in its best interests in regard to resources like oil, gas, bromide, coal or money, and is being especially slow in comprehending what is happening to its water, truly our most valuable resource.
Since my last article, a whole new wrinkle about gas drilling has slithered into the news. Neither the general public nor most of the state’s major environmental organizations (Audubon, Arkansas Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club ) were asked for any input before the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission signed two gas leases. One lease covers 7, 579 mineral acres and 15, 500 surface acres in the Petit Jean River Wildlife Management Area near Ola, in Yell County; the other for 3, 949 mineral acres and 11, 683 surface acres in the Gulf Mountain Wildlife Management Area in Van Buren County. Chesapeake Energy Corp. is parting with $ 29. 5 million and a 20 percent royalty interest to get to drill in these public lands.
Keep in mind that land surface (and therefore, habitat) is severely affected where cleared drilling pads, which range from one to five acres in size, are located, and by many miles of roads needing to be improved, expanded, or built for the hundreds of truck trips servicing drilling sites. Compressors hum loudly day and night, so noise can be a problem for humans and animals. And major impacts from pipeline rights of way, which can vary from 20 to 50 feet in width, occur because their pathways denude vast swaths of land. Many people do not realize that mineral leasing confers dominant use of the surface for extraction of underground minerals, no matter who owns the surface or whether they want drilling on their land or not. But on public lands the public should at least have been asked.
“What are we thinking?” is pretty much the question that environmentalists, snugly wrapped in our straitjackets, mutter to ourselves as we rock back and forth banging our heads into walls. I ended my last article asking, “Will we do anything about this situation?” meaning will we find a way to get at least some of the tax revenue from this gas production directed into preventing and repairing the environmental harm that will affect Arkansas’ land, air, water and human health? The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s leasing has provided a whole new pot o’ gold for grasping, and the commission and the governor are having somewhat of a standoff over who gets to decide how this wealth will be spent.
The commission says the money is theirs to direct to wildlife. Sounds good unless that “wildlife” includes trucks, salaries, buildings, game wardens, hunting programs, equipment, etc. for humans. It needs to be directed to habitat protection and repair, the essence of what could be harmed by drilling activities. The money could also go a long way in establishing methods to protect watersheds with conservation easements, thereby expanding preservation all over the state, not just within boundaries of management areas. Obviously, those borders have just been proven not to be sacrosanct when money rides into town.
The League of Women Voters has done extensive study on the Fayetteville Shale Play, taken tours to the drilling sites and in January co-hosted a forum on the issue with the Sierra Club. Mary Alice Serafini, state president of the League, said they have developed Consensus Positions, which they hope the state Legislature will adopt.
Position 1 is the recommendation that a single water authority be established to coordinate the use and regulation of the state’s public waters.
Position 2 recommends funding for oversight and inspection so that problems can be addressed before damage occurs instead of being only complaint driven.
Position 3 provides greater protection of landowners’ surface rights and of waterways.
Position 4 provides full disclosure of chemical additives being used in drilling and production activities that might infiltrate groundwater or pollute the air. (This is a “right-to-know” issue for anyone who otherwise might be exposed to harmful contaminants.)
Position 5 promotes the establishment of a fund for infrastructure changes and damages in areas affected by gas drilling.
So the League has been willing to do something. I hope you will too by contacting our legislators to tell them to support environmental protection and positions such as the League has taken. Immediately, however, we need to contact Gov. Mike Beebe and let him know we consider resource revenue the property of the citizens of Arkansas, and that the public’s money should go toward protecting our state for all of us, not just those with gas.
Fran Alexander is a local resident and an active environmentalist.
Copyright © 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Monarch butterflies visit World Peace Wetland Prairie to lay eggs on milkweed so that caterpillars can eat and grow

Please click on image to ENLARGE photo of monarch butterfly August 10, 2008, on World Peace Wetland Prairie.

Please click on link to ENLARGE tall-green milkweed, Asclepias hirtella, at World Peace Wetland Prairie on August 10, 2008.