Wednesday, March 31, 2010

John Bame and Fayetteville High School student 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.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Restore clean-water act to original strength Now!

Please double-click "view as webpage" link near top right to see full post.

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.
Katherine Baer Signature
Katherine Baer
Senior Director, Clean Water Program

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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

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,