Thursday, February 26, 2009

Don't let the contractors take all your brushpiles; the birds won't forgive you

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of mockingbird on brushpile at World Peace Wetland Prairie on February 25, 2009,

The more buds you spot on the ends of small limbs the more likely these limbs are the ones to keep on your property if you want plenty of song birds to be in your neighborhood when spring comes. You might also try to convince your neighbors to preserve some similar brushpiles on their property. And urging neighbors to preserve ice-damaged trees on their property also will help.
Many won't understand. But every property owner who keeps a brush pile or resists pressure to cut down a damaged tree can make a difference in the reproductive success of song birds in the coming spring.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Read my beak, Bella Vista: Don't oil my eggs, don't shoot my goslings

Please click on image of face of Canada goose to Enlarge and read her bill.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Red dirt abominable: West Fayetteville Citizens for Environmental Quality step up against red-dirt farm, limestone quarry

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of dump truck full of red dirt being hauled to construction site in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Please click on images to ENLARGE photos.

In the photo above, a layer of something approximating topsoil has been spread over red dirt used in trail construction but the chances of a strong enough crop of grass and other natural vegetation taking hold there to prevent erosion on a slope is questionable. Erosion from this site enters Scull Creek, a tributary of the Illiinois River.
In the photo below, red dirt has been built up several feet for the foundation of a strip shopping center in the riparian zone of a tributary of Fayetteville's Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River.

The story linked below is about as good as it gets for coverage of local resident/environmental groups' meetings. However, it is important to note one mistake, a mistake that may explain why comments about red dirt in water-quality discussions never get quoted by local reporters.
Red dirt is misunderstood.
Red dirt is not "rich, red dirt." A soil expert may be able to tell us about "rich, red dirt" someplace on earth. But "red dirt" in Northwest Arkansas is not topsoil even when one sees it on the surface. The natural topsoil has been removed by the mining process of scraping away the soil found above it.
The red dirt found in Northwest Arkansas is non-organic dirt that will not sustain life. It is stone and clay that has been hidden under a layer of organic soil for eons.
"If God had been proud of red dirt, God would not have buried it out of sight," said one Northwest Arkansas natural-resource conservationist speaking about its use on construction sites.
Road-builders and contractors putting up buildings use red dirt for foundation material. Some engineers and planners and developers call red dirt "good dirt" for their purposes. However, red dirt is the opposite of good for growing food or trees or flowering plants. Contractors who spill it beyond the bounds of a foundation quickly hide it under a layer of some type of organic soil that will at least grow a bit of grass.
But that means the possibility of raising a healthy garden or having a tree grow successfully for the long term is impossible forever, or at least until the red dirt is removed! Whole subdivisions may be found with solid red dirt where truly rich almost black topsoil formerly created fertile prairie land with the immense potential for agriculture and wildlife habitat. NOTHING LIVES IN OR ON RED DIRT. Human beings and other living things depend on organic soil for their existence.
Basically, red dirt-covered development sites are as impervious to water as paved lots. Stormwater runs off rapidly because it cannot soak in. The elements that erode from red dirt discolor streams and lakes and rivers and the silt doesn't stop discoloring the water for a long, long time. Native lIfe in streams decreases permanently after such changes in the watershed.
So, please, editors and reporters, let's not use the words "rich" and "red dirt" together. Certainly, people selling lots of red dirt may be enriched. But their product is not "rich" as an agricultural or environmental expert would use the word.
West Fayetteville serious about fighting red-dirt and limestone quarry

Neighbors decry noise, effects of blasting at Big Red Dirt Farm
BY DUSTIN TRACY Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2009
They're tired of the blasting, they're tired of the noise at all hours of the night and they certainly don't want to see the Big Red Dirt Farm, just off Hamstring Road north of Wedington Drive, converted into a limestone quarry.
That's why members of the West Fayetteville Citizens for Environmental Quality asked Ward 4 Aldermen Shirley Lucas and Sarah Lewis at the group's meeting Monday for the City Council's help in the battle against what has become a noisy, arguably dangerous, big hole in a number of resident's backyard.
"Quarry blasting on the edge of city limits can't be a good thing," Dave Bolen, president of the group, said.
The issue dates back to 2004, when about 50 acres were purchased by the William G. Sweetser Trust and A. Brad Johnson, who began farming the land for its rich, red dirt. Soon, the company decided to harvest the pillars of limestone that ran up through the dirt. Bolen said that was when his headaches started.
"They decided to fire up a rock crusher at 9:30 p.m. on a Saturday night," Bolen told Lucas and Lewis.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Kitty Creek a tributary of Mud Creek, which is a tributary of Clear Creek and the Illinois River

Please click on image to ENLARGE photos of Kitty Creek at Stearns Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas, being dredged by city workers in fall 2008. The adjacent neighborhood flooded enough in spring 2008 to panic some of its residents so much that they begged Mayor Coody to dredge it to try to reduce flooding.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mud Creek Cleanup set for Saturday, February 21, 2009

Please click on image to Enlarge view of Illinois River. Mud Creek is an urban tributary of Clear Creek, which is a tributary of the Illinois River.

IRWP Mud Creek Clean up Sat. Feb. 21‏
From: Contact IRWP (
Sent: Thu 2/12/09 12:54 PM

Join the IRWP on Saturday, Feb. 21, from 9 am till 12 noon to learn more about water quality, trees and conservation management from the Arkansas Forestry Commission and help us clean up Mud Creek and enjoy our natural resources!
Meet at the Mud Creek Trail entrance on Front Street just east of College Avenue, south of Joyce Blvd and north of Panera Bread Co. in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Plastic trash bags and gloves will be provided by the Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Dept.
For details, please email or call 479-238-4671

Monday, February 2, 2009

Springfed streams support waterfowl during extended periods of subfreezing weather

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of mallards flying into Clabber Creek east of Deane Solamon Road in Fayetteville, Arkansas. This area is downstream from the Wilson Spring area and is called Springwoods area by the developers. Waterfowl depend on springfed streams during periods of subfreezing temperature.

Drawbacks of curb and gutter ignored by most city street standards. Foreclosures offer second chance to do it right

Please click on image to ENLARGE photos for reading sign and seeing detail of January 31, 2009, photos of the Creek Meadow at Springwoods failed development site.

Traditionally, road and lot drainage systems have been designed to convey storm runoff away as quickly as possible to reduce localized ponding. This drainage concept, using curb-gutter-sewer systems, has led to downstream flooding, erosion, water-quality degradation, reduced groundwater recharge and stream baseflow, and aquatic habitat destruction. This paper examines the pros and cons of curb-gutter-sewer systems and qualitatively compares various forms of open ditch -swale drainage alternatives with the conventional curb-gutter-sewer drainage system. These open ditch - swale drainage alternatives not only provide drainage functions but also promote infiltration, trap sediments, and reduce flow velocity along the drainage path. Thus, they can reduce erosion, enhance runoff quality, and increase groundwater recharge. However, they usually require a wider right-of-way than the conventional curb-gutter-sewer systems and may not be suitable for sites with steep topography or erosive soils. For sites that are suitable for the application of these alternative drainage systems, their environment functions make them more attractive than the conventional curb-gutter-sewer system.
Technical study of drawbacks of conventional curb and gutter summarized

Please click on image of storm drain and curb and gutter with a curb cut that brings water OFF the adjacent absorbent wetland to the street and drain opening and thus rapidly to nearby, springfed Clabber Creek in Fayetteville, Arkansas. This fails to recharge the stream in the normal way and destroys the ability of the land to prevent flooding downstream and to cleanse the water. The alternative would be a slightly higher street with curb cuts pouring the water onto the wetland rather than draining the wetland. Such areas obviously should not be developed intensively. Old-fashioned construction of buildings without filling for a base and without a concrete foundation would be the only way anything should be allowed on such prairie soil. Well-engineered modern versions of the simple construction of houses on piers should be designed and required. Old streets in many parts of the city that have existing streetside ditches should be improved only with careful protection of vegetated swales and must include education of the owners and residents of adjacent property on the value of protecting their existing potential "natural stormgardens" rather than seeking to drain their land. Teaching good stewardship of wetland is a city responsibility.
The city's approval of the Creek Meadow at Springwoods subdivision plan was shortsighted and the failure of the developer to complete the project is a blessing because it offers a chance to see that any development that new owners of the foreclosed property propose will be minimized and revised to follow progressive wetland-protection and stormwater-retention concepts.