Thursday, December 24, 2009

Natural Resources Conservation Service removed some pretty healthy riparian vegetation from Scull Creek but left some bad spots with targeted debris blocking stream flow

Please click on images to ENLARGE.

The Scull Creek trail bridge at Ash Street and Chestnut Avenue has had this same debris hung up on it for maybe three months or more since the worst flood of the fall of 2009 sent water flowing over the bridge, but the NCRS contractors ignored it and spent a lot of their time paid for by federal money cutting live trees from the riparian zone and overflow areas of Scull Creek and other streams in Fayetteville, such as the Town Branch.

The good news is that the native wildflowers along the same stretch of trail in the Scull Creek riparian zone were mostly left standing. That means more seed to sprout in spring and more seed for the wild birds to eat. The square stems with now-wrinkled huge leaves still forming water-holding structures along them are cup flowers. a species that grew 10 feet tall and more at World Peace Wetland Prairie and many other prairie areas in Northwest Arkansas in 2009.

By morning, tall grass and tall wildflower seed and other sources such as this native smartweed near Scull Creek and native buckbrush and nonnative China honeysuckle and nonnative privet berries will be among the few places for migrating birds to feed if the snowfall is as predicted.

Wouldn't the birds love it if the trash were picked up from the ditches running from the streets and the apartment dwellers would actually help?

Remember that birdfeeders are important for wintering birds but that every stick of vegetation and every square foot of natural soil left in place are more important for birds and other wildlife.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Democrat/Gazette December 21, 2009, editorial advocating saving sale-barn land for Fayetteville National Cemetery pleases majority of veterans and neighbors, but the problem is that saving Town Branch homeowners from flooding downhill from the cemetery is still being ignored: VA already at work preparing to dredge and fill wetland and pipe stormwater directly to Hill Avenue and thus to the 11th Street bridge on the Town Branch

Please click on individual photos to ENLARGE view of wetland area along the north edge of the Fayetteville National Cemetery being prepared for dredging and filling for grave sites. The depressional wetland developed over centuries because it is above a bedrock karst area where groundwater sinks into the underground caverns and aquifers and reduces surface-water flooding. When it is piped to the Town Branch it will further aggravate the flooding danger between Ellis and Van Buren avenues already created by the University of Arkansas' failure properly to manage stormwater on the campus and by paving and development along Martin Luther King Boulevard and on the Aspen Ridge/Hill Place project.


Save acres for vets

Now buy the land for the cemetery


Monday, December 21, 2009
LITTLE ROCK — LIKE WARM Arkansas Christmases, dry eyes after It’s a Wonderful Life, and little boys from the Natural State scribbling “LSU gear” on their annual wish lists, some things are just not meant to be. That’s the way it seems with the controversial student apartments that apparently won’t be built in south Fayetteville. You know, where Washington County’s historic livestock auction house operated until June.
A lawsuit that sought to override the city’s denial of a rezoning request seems to be kaput. Campus Crest developers of North Carolina wanted to buy the property from the auction house’s owner, Bill Joe Bartholomew, and build 500 apartments on the property. But the drawn-out legal ordeal surrounding this purchase became just too much to bear. Mr. Bartholomew now wants his suit dismissed.
The proposed sale to Campus Crest became a flashpoint for veterans and others last summer. They wanted to secure the site across Government Avenue from the city’s National Cemetery so they might preserve the sacred nature of that location. They basically argued that more student apartments in an overbuilt Fayetteville wasn’t an appropriate use of the land. They had a point. The former auction barn parcel does provide an ideally located space to enlarge this rapidly filling cemetery.
Fayetteville’s council denied Mr. Bartholomew’s request to rezone his property. The rezoning would have sealed the sale and enabled Campus Crest to purchase and develop the property. That’s when Mr. Bartholomew filed his suit against the city.


This latest development means the corporation that oversees the cemetery’s operation, Congress, the national office of Veteran’s Affairs, and veterans’ organizations need to find a way to purchase this property. The space needs to be preserved and protected as a final resting place for our veterans in the decades to come.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Joe Neal suggests less shopping, more protecting


less shopping, more protecting‏
From:
Joe Neal (joeneal@uark.edu)


Back in 2000 I saw a Red-tailed Hawk nest in the stout fork of a big old prairie-era post oak. The oak was part of a small forest developed on former Tallgrass Prairie habitat well marked by impressive prairie mounds. There were Northern Bobwhites in the surrounding fields and Painted Buntings in the shrublands. Visitors to northwest Arkansas and us locals are invariably drawn to this area now because it is Steel Creek Crossing in the burgeoning retail-entertainment district in the vicinity of NW Arkansas Mall.

There was a big battle over these old prairie oaks in 2000, begun when Mary Lightheart climbed what she called the “mother tree” and vowed to stay until development plans were dropped. She kept her vow to stay, but eventually law enforcement brought her down and arrested others who tried to take her place.

I was out Christmas shopping in that area yesterday. What remains of that old oak barren is a handful of fantastic mature native trees and prairie mounds between two popular retailers, Kohl’s and Target . Kohl’s refused to make any compromise with their store building plans at the time. Folks who supported Lightheart handed out bumper stickers after the fracas that read, “I will never shop at Kohl’s.” Trash from the parking lots collects there, mute witness to what happens when a worthwhile fight is lost.

I haven’t seen one of those “I’ll never shop…” adorning a bumper in a few years, so I guess this too has now largely faded. Just from an ecological viewpoint, the little remnant is worth a visit because it is a perfect example of a unique Ozark habitat once much more widespread in northwestern Arkansas. There’s plenty of parking nearby, too.

But I am a historian and a birder, and when I’m out that way, I always stop and look at the oaks and the mounds, remembering that big hawk nest, the bobwhites, and buntings. Bobwhites and Painted Buntings are two of our native birds whose declines are thought by some to be a mystery. Stop by the little woodlot. The reason for decline, at least in our western Arkansas neck-of-the-woods, is palpable.

I also notice that while I did, and do, support the notion of boycotting environmental travesty, like others here, I move on. It’s like being push out to sea by the rip tide. The people who work in Kohl’s and Target look and likely feel just like you & I.

The trash out there in the pitiful prairie remnant got me to thinking yesterday about whether or not any of it was worthwhile, even from the get go. I think Lightheart and the others were right to protest , even if against overwhelming odds. I don’t mean to celebrate “tilting at windmills.” But how else will native birds and their habitats receive protection when they are jeopardized? How else will politicians and developers be put on notice that their decisions have real consequences, and not just the positives that get headlines.

I agree with the reputed views of a Populist agitator from the 19th century, who supposedly told a bunch of angry Kansans, "What you farmers need to do is raise less corn and more Hell." I suppose that’s what Lightheart had in mind when she climbed her mother tree – less shopping, more protecting.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Audubon Arkansas open house from 4 to 7 p.m. today; Environmental Action Committee at 5:30 p.m. in Room 326 of city hall

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2009
Audubon Arkansas open house from 4 to 7 p.m. today; Environmental Action Committee at 5:30 p.m. in Room 326 of city hall
The Holiday Season is a busy time so here's a little reminder about our Holiday Open House! If you have not yet RSVP'd don't forget to drop us a line and let us know your are coming! We are looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Please Join Us

Thursday, December 10, 2009
From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at
34 East Center Street
Fayetteville, Arkansas

For the
Audubon Arkansas
Holiday Open House

The staff and board of Audubon Arkansas invite you to join us for food, refreshments, conversation and conservation. Spouses, children, and friends welcome.
Please RSVP to mviney@audubon.org
Wishing You Happy Holidays!!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Verbesina virginica among several species that serve in winter as ice plants! Find it early mornings in a variety of places in addition to World Peace Wetland Prairie

Please click on images to ENLARGE photo. Ice-plant displays are like snowflakes. No two are alike. Drive along roads with ditches that have not been mowed back all the way and spot Verbesina virginica with ice around its base on cold, clear mornings. ANOTHER REASON NOT to mow roadsides and old prairie areas. Sometimes, if the mowers haven't cut close to the ground but have taken off the tops of the often 6-foot-tall plants, the ice formations may be spotted by carefully watching for short stem remains.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Natural Resources Conservation Service contractors use Bobcat loader to disturb the bed of the Town Branch without permission on day major watershed-protection news announced

Please click on image to go to Flickr site and enlarge and search for related photos and information.
IMG_1746
What part of NO don't these guys understand?
The living things in a half mile of this urban tributary of the West Fork of the White River were displaced and their habitat damaged for four days in November 2009 with no apology.

On the day that these photos were taken, the NRCS announced a huge effort to improve water quality in many states, including Arkansas. How does treating the riparian zones of Fayetteville's tributaries of the White River and the Illinois River watersheds make sense when the agency's overall mission includes protecting and enhancing such areas?

Release No. 0586.09
Contact:
Brad Fisher (202) 720-4024


SECRETARY VILSACK ANNOUNCES 41 WATERSHEDS TO TAKE PART IN MISSISSIPPI RIVER BASIN INITIATIVE
Initiative Will Provide Approximately $320 Million in USDA Assistance In Basin Area

WASHINGTON, November 23, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 41 watersheds in 12 states, known as Focus Areas, have been selected to participate in a new initiative to improve water quality and the overall health of the Mississippi River Basin. The selected watersheds cover over 42 million acres, or more than 5 percent of the Basin's land area.

"The USDA is committed to working cooperatively with agricultural producers, partner organizations and State and local agencies to improve water quality and the quality of life for the tens of millions of people who live in the Mississippi River Basin, the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative will help" Vilsack said. "Today's announcement is another step toward achieving this goal, and I encourage as many eligible participants as possible to join us in this major conservation effort."

The Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), which was announced on September 24, 2009, will provide approximately $320 million in USDA financial assistance over the next four years for voluntary projects in priority watersheds in Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin. MRBI will help producers implement conservation and management practices that prevent, control and trap nutrient runoff from agricultural land.

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) manages the initiative. NRCS State Conservationists from the 12 watershed states selected the watersheds with guidance from State Technical Committees and state water quality agencies. Selections were based on the potential for managing nitrogen and phosphorus -- nutrients associated with water quality problems in the Basin -- while maintaining agricultural productivity and benefiting wildlife.
Next, smaller watershed projects will be selected through a competitive process under NRCS' Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI). NRCS assistance will be leveraged with contributions from partners, expanding the capacity available to improve water quality throughout the Basin.
Three requests for project proposals will be announced in the next several weeks, including one for CCPI. Funding for CCPI projects will come from NRCS' Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program and Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program.
Two other requests for proposals will fund projects through the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program and Conservation Innovation Grants. For information about these programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs .
State(s) Watershed
Arkansas/Missouri - Cache
Arkansas - Lake Conway-Point Remove
Arkansas - L'Anguille
Arkansas/Missouri - Lower St. Francis
Illinois - Lower Illinois - Senachwine Lake
Illinois - Upper Illinois
Illinois - Vermilion (Upper Mississippi River sub-basin)
Illinois/Indiana - Vermilion (Upper Ohio River sub-basin)
Indiana - Eel
Indiana - Upper East Fork White
Indiana - Wildcat
Indiana/Ohio - Upper Wabash
Iowa - Boone
Iowa - Maquoketa
Iowa - North Raccoon
Iowa/Minnesota - Upper Cedar
Kentucky/Tennessee - Bayou De Chien-Mayfield
Kentucky - Licking
Kentucky - Lower Green
Louisiana - Mermentau
Louisiana/Arkansas - Bayou Macon
Louisiana/Arkansas - Boeuf River
Minnesota - Middle Minnesota
Minnesota - Root
Minnesota - Sauk
Mississippi - Big Sunflower
Mississippi/Louisiana/Arkansas - Deer-Steele
Mississippi - Upper Yazoo
Missouri/Iowa - Lower Grand
Missouri - North Fork Salt
Missouri - South Fork Salt
Missouri/Arkansas - Little River Ditches
Ohio/Indiana - Upper Great Miami
Ohio - Upper Scioto
Tennessee - Forked Deer
Tennessee/Kentucky - Obion
Tennessee - South Fork Obion
Tennessee/Kentucky - Red River
Wisconsin/Illinois - Sugar
Wisconsin/Illinois - Upper Rock
Wisconsin/Illinois - Pecatonica
For information about the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative, including eligibility requirements, please visit the MRBI web page at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/mrbi/mrbi_overview.html or your USDA Service Center. A map of the project area is available the MRBI Programs webpage.
Subscribe to NRCS news releases and get other agency information at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov or contact NRCS Public Affairs at 202-720-3210.
NRCS celebrates its 75th year of service in 2010.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272(voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Red Oak Park plan would tear up the ground and displace mature trees and other significant vegetation but do nothing to protect the park from the huge upstream flow of water from the south, east and west

Red Oak Park Plan

MAYBE, this plan would help protect the property of the landowner downstream to the north toward Hamestring Creek. But it will totally miss the point of trying to protect the existing mature trees and will allow an incredible increase in erosion during construction and have only a minimal chance of improving the park in any credible way.

The only worthwhile and effective use of the money set aside for this plan would be KEEPING the water WATER WHERE IT FALLS: On the lots in the subdivisions to the south, east and west in raingardens created in the yards and in the treeless portion of the park at the southeast corner.

Helping people create raingardens using the natural soil remaining in the area and encouraging NOT to mow but to protect native vegetation there would decrease the dangerous runoff to a manageable level.

It is illogical to spend money doing some that won't meet the goals of the people who originally began complaining about the situation.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tour of Woolsey Wet Prairie and Fayetteville's westside sewage-treatment plant at 2 p.m. today precedes big evening for Illinois River Watershed Partnership

Illinois River Watershed Partnership
Annual Stakeholders Meeting
November 10, 2009
2:00 to 3:30 pm Tour of Fayetteville West Side Treatment Plant and Woolsey Wet Prairie
4:00 pm. Tour of Fayetteville Sam's Club
5:30 pm Hors d'oeuvres at Arvest Ballpark, Springdale
6:00 pm Sponsor Recognition and Golden Paddle Awards Reception
7:00 pm. Annual Membership and Board Meeting
Thank you for your dedicated efforts and support
to preserve, protect and restore the Illinois River Watershed.

To see evidence of the need for protection, please click on image to ENLARGE example of construction-site erosion in the Illinois River Watershed.
From Northwest Arkansas environment central

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ducks Unlimited Banquet October 29, 2009, in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Please click on images to move to Flickr site and use magnifying tool above photo to ENLARGE for easy reading.
09
09

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Green Groups Guild meeting Thursday

From: Green Groups Guild (ggg@listserv.uark.edu) on behalf of ggg (ggg@UARK.EDU)
Sent: Tue 10/13/09 2:31 PM
To: GGG@LISTSERV.UARK.EDU

Meeting 10/15/09 7:00 p.m.
209 Thompson Ave. Three Sisters Bldg on Dickson above Fez Hookah Lounge.
Patrick Kunnecke
GGG President
ASLA Vice President
4th Year Landscape Architecture Student
479-544-1906

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Runners and Sponsors sought for Nov. 7, 2009, 5K veterans' memorial race to benefit Fayetteville National Cemetery

Please click on image to move to Flickr site and ENLARGE for easy reading. The Regional National Cemetery Improvement Corporation meets at 10:30 a.m. Saturday October 10 and needs to add sponsor names to the file for the race T shirts and the brochures so that printing can begin. Already, Tyson Foods has donated at the Medal of Honor level and has challenged others to join them at the top of the list, thanks to the effort of RNCIC Secretary Peggy McClain.
RNCIC 5K sponsorship levels 09

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Veterans' Memorial 5K race set for November 7, 2009, in Town Branch neighborhood: Sponsorship information below

The Regional National Cemetery Improvement Corporation (RNCIC) is organizing a Veteran’s Memorial 5K race on Saturday, November 7th at the National Cemetery in Fayetteville. The purpose of this 5K race is to raise funds for purchase and clearing of land to expand the Cemetery and, even more importantly, to raise the awareness of the Cemetery and the ongoing threat of closure.
We write to ask that you consider sponsoring the event.
The sole mission of the nonprofit RNCIC is to secure and clear land adjacent to the Fayetteville National Cemetery to ensure that the cemetery can continue to receive veterans for burial. Established immediately after the Civil War, the Fayetteville National Cemetery is an important part of the history of this region and the country. Veterans living in Northwest Arkansas, as well as many veterans from here but now living outside our region, have planned their final resting place here. But that may not be possible in the near future.
The Veteran’s Administration maintains the Cemetery, but the purchase of new land to expand
existing National Cemeteries has not occurred in decades.
When the RNCIC was organized only seven unfilled grave sites remained at Fayetteville National
Cemetery and the Cemetery was soon to be permanently closed to new interments. We have kept the Cemetery open and increased its size by over 120 percent in the ensuing 25 years, but with the passing of the World War II generation of veterans, the Cemetery will be full in a few years and closed to new burials.
Unless, of course, we act now to prevent that.
The recent controversy over the possible rezoning and development of the adjoining property has regularly been on the front page of local newspapers this summer. The massive turnout of veterans and non-veterans alike to public hearings demonstrates the deep emotional currents that surround the National Cemetery. We are grateful for past commitments to support veterans made by this community. We plan to make the race an annual event and, in this inaugural year, we are happy to give you the opportunity to associate yourself with keeping an important part of this region’s and nation’s heritage alive and to honor those who guarded us. We hope that you will see your way clear to sponsor this event. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.
Respectfully submitted,
Wesley Stites, Race Organizer
wstites@uark.edu
Tel: 479-871-7478
5K RACE
VETERANS MEMORIAL
Regional National Cemetery Improvement Corporation
P.O. Box 4221
Fayetteville, AR 72702
http://regncic.tripod.com
Veterans' 5 K race November 7, 2009, in Fayetteville, Arkansas: Sponsorship details below
2009 Veteran’s Memorial 5K Race Sponsorship Levels
We thank you for considering sponsorship of this fundraising event. As you may know, all
proceeds of the race go to purchase and clear land for the expansion of Fayetteville National
Cemetery. The Regional National Cemetery Improvement Corporation is a registered nonprofit
with a 25-year history. Through the efforts of this group and, even more importantly, the
generosity of past donors, land has been purchased, cleared, and donated to the Veterans Administration increasing the size of the National Cemetery by 120% and keeping it open for
burial of veterans. However, without additional purchases of land, the cemetery will be closed in 14 years or less.

MEDAL OF HONOR - $1000
Business name and logo prominently on front and back of race shirt
Business name and logo on all race materials and race website
Sponsorship noted in all press releases
Business name and logo on finish line banner
Business recognized at award ceremony
Distribution of marketing materials and/or product samples in race goodie bags
10 complimentary entries and/or race shirts

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE - $500
Business name and logo prominently on back of race shirt
Business name and logo on race website
Business name and logo on finish line banner
Business recognized at award ceremony
Distribution of marketing materials and/or product samples in race goodie bags
5 complimentary entries and/or race shirts

SILVER STAR - $250
Business name and logo on back of race shirt
Business name and logo on race website
Business recognized at award ceremony
Distribution of marketing materials and/or product samples in race goodie bags
3 complimentary entries and/or race shirts

BRONZE STAR - $100
Business name and logo on back of race shirt if room allows
Business name and logo on race website
Business recognized at award ceremony
Distribution of product samples in race goodie bags
1 complimentary entry and/or race shirt
CONTACT Information:
Wesley Stites 479-871-7478
All checks should be payable to Regional National Cemetery Improvement Corporation or to R.N.C.I.C.
Regional National Cemetery Improvement Corporation
P.O. Box 4221
Fayetteville, AR 72702

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gray hairstreak butterfly on grass on August 18, 2009

Please click on image to enlarge view of tiniest variety of gray hairstreak butterfly on a tiny seed portion of grass hanging over the edge of a street near downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas. People who choose to "naturalize" their yards in accordance with a new Fayetteville ordinance would have lots of these this time of summer in Fayetteville. Yes, these are so small their color patterns aren't easy to see without a zoom lens, they are truly magnificent and are a better thing to see in one's yard than a mass of monoculture grass mowed near the ground.

Why hasn't the park department stopped mowing large areas of the city parks as the mayor suggested many months ago. The fuel and labor costs of mowing seriously hurt the park budget in a desperate time.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

America's Wildlife Heritage Act needs support of outdoor-sport enthusiasts NOW

Speak up for America's Wildlife Heritage Act‏
From: Julia Marden, National Wildlife Federation (alerts@nwf.org)
Sent: Tue 7/28/09 12:37 PM

Dear Aubrey,
We shouldn't make the mule deer wait.
The mule deer (whose large ears can actually wiggle independently of each other), is iconic to the Rocky Mountain West. And unfortunately, it is facing threats of global warming and habitat loss much like every other wildlife species.
But ironically--despite the threats they face--mule deer populations are still too strong to be monitored and protected like endangered species are.
Ask your representative to support a law that safeguards wildlife species and their habitats before they become critically endangered.
Right now, Congress is considering legislation called America's Wildlife Heritage Act. This bill will help federal land management agencies safeguard species like the mule deer and require scientific objectives and monitoring to make sure wildlife populations remain at healthy levels.
Current federal law doesn't do much to protect America's wildlife, until it's almost too late. Instead, oil, gas and other interests have received priority on public lands over wildlife and the health of their habitats.
Here's a big chance to put wildlife conservation back on the agenda.
Just one bill could make all the difference.
Encourage your representative to be a leader in wildlife conservation by supporting America's Wildlife Heritage Act today.
Sincerely,
Julia Marden
Online Grassroots Coordinator
National Wildlife Federation
alerts@nwf.org

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Times' July 15 headline two weeks premature; it may be accurate if published on July 22, 2009

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of a couple from West Palm Beach, Florida, at the Fayetteville National Cemetery on July 14, 2009. They were on a self-guided tour of Civil War battlefields and National Cemeteries and such. Many people choose to vacation in cities that have significant historic sites.

The July 15 headline below may be accurate if published again on July 22.
"Rezoning of sale barn property postponed
BY ROBIN MERO Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Wednesday, July 15, 2009
URL: http://www.nwanews.com/nwat/News/78148/
"Consideration of a rezoning request for the Washington County Livestock Auction property will wait until the Aug. 4 meeting of the Fayetteville City Council.
"Developer Campus Crest LLC wants two more weeks to develop a bill of assurance for the request, which will be presented to the council with the aim of making the zoning request more palatable.
"The developer is asking that nine acres be rezoned to downtown general from heavy commercial/light industrial and seeks to build apartments for University of Arkansas students."

The headline and the two graphs above were written after an agenda-setting meeting of the Fayetteville City Council. It may turn out to be accurate if the council tables the issue during the July 21 meeting. No action is taken at agenda sessions beyond setting the agenda for the official council meeting. If the developers actually do ask that it be tabled at the July 21 meeting, then the a member of the council could make a motion to table and, if that were seconded, then they could vote to table or not. If the council approves tabling, then it might not be further discussed.
If the tabling fails, then a motion could be made to vote on the issue of rezoning, which would require allowing developers to present and the public to speak. So there is no guarantee that the issue will not come to a vote at this meeting, but it does appear likely that it will be delayed until the first August meeting.
It would be an embarrassment to the city if apartments were allowed next to the national cemetery. This isn't about property rights. The lack of need for apartments for university students at this time has been well-documented. The obvious need in Fayetteville is for affordable housing such as the single-family homes in the neighborhood nearest the former sale barn and the National Cemetery.

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of representatives of the VA and contractors on July 14, 2009, discussing plans to prepare property to be added to the Fayetteville National Cemetery.

On Tuesday, federal officials and engineers and others with experience in cemetery design walked the cemetery and some adjacent land to the west that already has been bought by the Regional National Cemetery Improvement Corporation and donated to the VA for cemetery expansion. That land will be prepared after careful study of that land to become part of the burial ground. But it will not meet the projected need for more space for much more than a decade.
The sale-barn ground also would require careful planning and much work if it is added later. But the people on hand yesterday are well-trained and able to do it properly. It will be needed and is in the natural spot to be added to the existing cemetery that was created in 1867, soon after the civil war ended.
Maybe some people would not see the inappropriateness of putting apartments there unless it were allowed and then they actually experienced what it would be like.
Just imagine.

Quoting the NWAT article further: "The council by law is to consider only whether the zoning requested is compatible with the neighborhood.
"Alderman Sarah Lewis asked how the developer can present information about the project when the council is not to consider a specific project.
" 'I don't understand; we're not allowed to talk about the project, but they're allowed to bring a bill of assurance," Lewis said.
"City Attorney Kit Williams said a bill of assurance doesn't describe a project, only limits the range of a zoning.
A bill of assurance places voluntary restrictions on a developer."
"Copyright © 2001-2009 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact: webmaster@nwanews.com"

Regardless of the outcome of the effort to stop this rezoning, the Regional National Cemetery Improvement Corporation will continue its fund-raising effort. There is no guarantee at this point that federal money will be provided to help expand the cemetery even though Senator Blanche Lincoln told me in person that she will work toward that end and even though Congressman John Boozeman told me and several other people recently that he will work to earmark a bill in the House of Representatives to provide money through the Department of Veterans Affairs to purchase the sale-barn property to add to protect the future cemetery and the thousands of veterans are eligible for burial there already.
Please make donations payable to the Regional National Cemetery Improvement Corporation and mail to P.O. Box 4221, Fayetteville, AR 72702.
For more information, please go to the RNCIC's Web site at http://regncic.tripod.com
Regional National Cemetery Improvement Corporation's Web site

Monday, July 13, 2009

US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE ARTICLE ON prairie wildflower restoratioin

Prairie flowers – Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Shawn May


Nearly 99% of the native tallgrass prairie has been lost to the plow and to development in the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District, and this loss of habitat directly impacts many species of wildlife. Grasslands provide shelter for birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects. Species like greater prairie chickens, marbled godwits, short-eared owls, bobolinks and other song birds require large tracts of grasslands to make their homes. All species of ground nesting birds like waterfowl, pheasants, and songbirds need grasslands in which to build and conceal their nests.

The native grass species found in the Northern Tallgrass Prairie vary in height, from side-oats grama (that is about 1 foot tall), to prairie cordgrass and big bluestem (which can reach 7 feet tall). These plants develop root systems that are sometimes twice as long as the plants are tall. Because of this dense root system, these plants form sod that has a tremendous capacity to absorb run-off and rain water. The plants can take up chemicals and nutrients that are carried into the grassland by run-off thus filtering the water that flows through a tract of grassland.

Grassland Restoration and Management

When a new tract of land is acquired, it has usually been farmed, and a majority of the wetlands frequently have been drained. Due to the high density of wetlands in many areas of the District, the uplands are seeded to native grasses and forbs (wildflowers) first and allowed to establish before the wetlands are restored. The District harvests most of the needed seed from local native prairies which are diverse and of local origin. We also purchase some local origin grass and forb seeds to diversify our seed mix.

Seeding is done in the early spring, when the snow is melting and the sun's rays are getting warmer. The prairie mix of seed is generally broadcast into soybean stubble, however grass stubble and burned grass (ash) is also sometimes used as a seedbed.



Snow seeding – Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Les Peterson

A diverse seed mixture is important because the wildflowers provide food for many species of insects. Grassland birds and many other species of wildlife feed on the insects found in these prairies. Plant species diversity also provides variability in the grassland structure. Some wildlife species need dense grasses overhead and passageways near the ground; others like shorter, open areas in a grassland. Increased plant diversity provides better cover, nesting habitat and food for a larger variety of wildlife species.

Many prairie seedings would turn into a beautiful stand of grasses and wildflowers if given enough time, and the proper management to allow this to occur. Management actions often prescribed when a grassland is establishing, such as repeated weed clipping or spraying grasslands with chemical, can eliminate the diversity from a prairie seeding for the future. In the first couple years of growth, native plants grow downward as much, if not more, than they grow upwards. Having a deep root system allows prairie adapted plants to withstand severe droughts. Because native plants put so much energy into root growth when a grass stand is establishing, thistle will sometimes take advantage of the lack of competition for daylight. During this important time for the new seeding, weed control such as repeated clipping or chemical application can be detrimental to the long-term diversity of the grass stand and may actually perpetuate the problem. Management of weeds on the District focuses on the long-term control of invasive weed species in order to control the spread of noxious weed seed across the countryside. If properly managed, a diverse native plant community that has laid its roots deep, will out-compete many weed species for the long term. After a seeding has been established, it is difficult for many weeds to invade these dense native grass stands with their robust root systems.

Rarely do weeds invade native prairies or established native grass seedings; however, this can happen with some species of particularly invasive weeds (eg. crown vetch). Weed species can also invade grass seedings when soils are disturbed or seeded plants are sparse. When necessary, the District uses an integrated approach to control invasive plants in the short-term, with the goal of long term control being provided culturally through the establishment of a diversified grassland plant community.

Utilizing cultural, mechanical, chemical, and biological control techniques in combination is often more effective than using a single control technique. The District has used new technologies, such as a wetblade© mower that combine mechanical and chemical control into a single operation. An example of an effective biological control is the use of flea beetles for leafy spurge control. These insect species are native to Eurasia, where they naturally controlled spurge populations. Flea beetle larvae feed on the roots of the spurge plants, which keeps them from growing and may eliminate them completely from a grassland when conditions are ideal. Using its' natural insect predator, biological control can be a cost effective and species specific method of weed control. Research continues on biological controls for other problem weed species such as spotted knapweed and Canada thistle.


Wetblade mower – Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Kent Jensen

Fire is typically not used on a new seeding until the fifth to seventh year after seeding in order to allow the new plants time to establish themselves. After that initial period, a fire rotation of 3 to 5 years is used in order to stimulate the production of seed.

When fire has been absent from a tract of grassland for many years, trees and brush can invade. The Northern Tallgrass Prairie on average receives enough rain to support trees, but historically trees did not survive here unless they were near rivers or lakes. Oak savannas are another habitat type found in the District where invading trees are altering the landscape. Frequent disturbance from fire, bison grazing, and drought allowed these prairie communities to dominate the landscape. With the elimination of these periodic disturbances over the past 100 years, tallgrass prairies and hilltops once covered with scattered oaks and prairie grasses have gradually grown up in green ash, Siberian elm, and cottonwoods. In the portions of our District that were historically prairie or oak savannas, we are actively eliminating invading or previously planted trees using mechanical cutting and prescribed fire.

Last updated: July 9, 2008

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Joe Neal's new book now for sale

Please click on images to ENLARGE


Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society has published a new book, BIRDS in northwestern Arkansas, an ecological perspective. This venture is part of the ongoing re-launch of NWAAS. It narrates and summarizes a mass of
bird data from 9 counties in the NW corner of the state -- Breeding Bird Surveys, Christmas Bird Counts, records in Arkansas Audubon Society bird records database by many observers, Forest Service landbird point counts, field research by graduate students, etc. The book is $12.95 and is available at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville (205 W. Dickson). It is also available by mail by contacting our immediate past president, Joan Reynolds (joanreynolds@gmail.com)-- cost, 12.95 plus 3.00 postage. The book will also be available while they last (small press run) at society
functions, including the upcoming July 12 field trip to Chesney Prairie Natural Area -- bring the correct amount (if by check, make it out to NWAAS). Finally, if we sell 5 or more copies in one transaction, the price is $10 each (so get together & save more; this price would not include
postage, if the books are to be mailed). This is a not-for-profit venture. Hopefully, this will widen understanding of bird occurrences in this part of Arkansas and stimulate more birding!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Honeybee on butterfly milkweed on June 30, 2009

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of honeybee on milkweed on June 30, 2009, at World Peace Wetland Prairie.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Butterfly gardens easy to grow in the black, rich soil of the Illinois River valley and the Town Branch vallley of Fayetteville, Arkansas

Please click on image to ENlarge view of obedient plant on Pinnacle Foods Inc. Prairie west of World Peace Wetland Prairie on June 19, 2009, a big non-native pink flower whose name I can't remember at the moment at the entry to the trail through Pinnacle Prairie and a butterfly milkweed near WPWP.




Butterfly gardens can be grown throughout the
United States. There is a wide variety of both butterfly
attracting (nectar) plants and host (food) plants cover-
ing climates zones throughout the country.
Creating a Garden
Gardens can range in size from containers to sever-
al acres. Butterflies like sunny sites and areas sheltered
from high winds and predators. Warm, sheltered sites
are most needed in the spring and fall. Butterflies are
cold-blooded insects that can only fly well when their
body temperatures are above 70oF. They are often seen
resting on rocks, which reflect the heat of the sun help-
ing to raise their body temperatures, so be sure to
include some rocks in your garden. It’s also beneficial
to have partly shady areas, like trees or shrubs, so they
can hide when it’s cloudy or cool off if it’s very hot.
Plants that attract butterflies are usually classified
as those that areafood source,anectar source or both.
Butterflies require food plants for their larval stages and
nectar plants for the adult stage. Some larvae feed on
specifichost plants, while others will feed on a variety
of plants. If possible, include both larval host plants
and adult nectar plants in your butterfly garden.
Butterflies also like puddles. Males of several
species congregate at small rain pools, forming “puddle
clubs”. Permanent puddles are very easy to make by
buryingabucket to therim, filling it with gravel or
sand, and then pouring in liquids such as stale beer,
sweet drinks or water. Overripe fruit, allowed to sit for
afew days is a very attractive substance to butterflies
as well!
Life Cycle of A Butterfly
Butterflies go through a four-stage developmental
process known as metamorphosis (egg, larva or caterpil-
lar, pupa or chrysalis and adult). Understanding a but-
terfly’s life cycle can make butterfly watching more
enjoyable, andthis knowledge is an important asset to
those who want to understand the principles of attract-
ingbutterflies to their gardens.
Butterflies begin their life as an egg, laid either
singly or in clusters depending on the species. A very
tiny caterpillar emerges and, after consuming its egg
shell, begins feeding on its host plant. Caterpillars must
crawl out of their skin or molt, usually around five times,
before changing into a pupa. Finally, an adult butterfly
emerges, spreads its wings and flies away.
Butterflies typically lay their eggs in late spring and
hatch 3 to 6 days after they are laid. It takes 3 to 4
weeks for a caterpillar to pupate and 9 to 14 days to
emerge as an adult.
Host Plants
Adult female butterflies spend time searching for
food plants required by the immature caterpillar stage.
Most butterflies have specific host plants on which they
develop. For example, caterpillars of the monarch but-
terfly develop only on milkweed, while the black swal-
lowtail feeds only on parsley, dill and closely related
plants. Planting an adequate supply of the proper host
plants gives butterflies a place to lay their eggs, which
will successfully hatch and result in butterflies that will
continue to visit thegarden. Providing the necessary
food plants for the developing caterpillars also allows
production of a “native” population that can be
observed in all stages ofdevelopment.
To enjoy adult butterflies, you have to be willing to
allow their caterpillars to feed on foliage in your garden.
Food source plants that support caterpillars include the
annual marigold, snapdragon and violet; the perennial
butterfly milkweed, daisy and various herbs; the ash,
birch, cherry, dogwood, poplar and willow trees; lilac
shrubs; juniper evergreens and more.
The weediness of some host plants makes them less
than desirable for a space within your more attractive
garden beds, but they serve the same function if you
place them away in a corner of the yard. To keep them
from becoming invasive, remember to remove their
spentblooms before they go to seed.
Plants to Attract Butterflies
To attract the most butterflies, design a garden
that provides a long season of flowers (nectar plants).
The time of flowering, duration of bloom, flower color
and plant size are all important considerations when
selecting plants to attract butterflies. A wide variety of
food plants will give the greatest diversity of visitors.
Choose a mixture of annuals and perennials.
Annuals bloom all summer but must be replanted every
spring (after the last frost). Perennials bloom year after
year from the same roots but their blooming periods are
typically limited to a few weeks or months. To ensure
the availability of nectar sources throughout the sum-
mer, long-blooming annuals should be planted between
the perennials.
Try staggering wild and cultivated plants, as well as
blooming times of the day and year. Planting in mass
(several plants of the same kind) will usually attract
more butterflies, as there is more nectar available to
them at a single stop. Plants with clusters of flowers
are often better than plants with small, single flowers
because it is easier for butterflies to landon clustered
and/or larger flowers.
Many plants which attract butterflies, especially
trees and shrubs, may already be present in a specific
area. Shrubs include azalea, spirea, butterfly bush and
lilacs. Although weeds andsomenative plants are gen-
erally not welcomein a garden, allowingthem to grow
under supervision may be an option, as these plants
help attract butterflies. Try to avoid plants that readily
reseed and may take over and dominate garden sites.
Perennials, such as chives, dianthus, beebalm, but-
terfly weed, mints, black-eyed susan and purple cone-
flower offer a succession of blooms, other perennials
include coreopsis, lavender, phlox, sedum and yarrow.
Add annuals that flower all season, such as cosmos, lan-
tana, pentas,petunias, phlox, salvia and zinnias. Select
flowers with manysmall tubular flowers or florets like
liatris, goldenrod and verbena. Or chose those with sin-
gle flowers, such as marigold, daisy and sunflower.
Butterflies are attracted to flowers with strong
scents and bright colors, where they drink sweet energy-
rich nectar. Planting a variety of nectar sources will
encourage more butterflies to visit the garden.
For better butterfly viewing, plant the tallest
plants in the rear of the garden and work smaller or
shorter towardthefront.
Butterfly
Gardens
Creating, Growing and Enjoying
EARLMAYSEED&NURSERY
www.earlmay.com
SHENANDOAH, IOWA51603
Butterfly Host Plants(continued)
Trees Herbs
Ash Dill
Birch Parsley
Cherry Sweet Fennel
Dogwood
Linden
Poplar
Willow
Butterfly Attracting Plants
Annuals Perennials
Ageratum Aster
Cosmos Beebalm
Gomphrena Blanket Flower
Heliotrope Butterfly Milkweed
Lantana Coreopsis
Marigold Daisy
Nasturtium Dame’s Rocket
Nicotiana Daylily
Pentas Dianthus
Petunia Liatris
Phlox Phlox
Salvia Purple Coneflower
Snapdragon Rudbeckia
Statice Russian Sage
Sunflower Salvia
Sweet Alyssum Scabiosa
Verbena Sedum
Zinnia Veronica
Yarrow
Shrubs Herbs
Azalea Catnip
Butterfly Bush Chives
Lilacs Lavender
Mock Orange Mint
Potentilla
Viburnun
Cut Back on Insecticides
It’s difficult to have a successful butterfly garden
inalocation where insecticides are used. Pesticides,
specifically insecticides, kill not only the insects you
want to get rid of – they also kill the insects you want
tokeep, such as monarch caterpillars. Even biological
controls such as Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) will kill but-
terfly larvae. When treating for insect pests, always
consider non-chemical methods of pest control before
turning to pesticides.
Let Your Garden Grow
Most butterfly species over-winter nearby. This
means that their eggs, chrysalises, or larvae are likely to
be in or near your yard during the non-gardening
months. Some will even hibernate as adults. Do not
mow weed sites, cut down dead plants or dismantle
woodpiles which provide them safe shelter in the off-
season until the weather warms up.
Enjoying Your Butterfly Garden
Butterfly gardens are a great source of enjoyment
for everyone. Visiting butterflies include a variety of
different species and names, depending upon the region
of the country in which you live. To learn more about
which plants help in attracting butterflies get your copy
of National Wildlife Federation Attracting Birds,
Butterflies and Other Backyard Wildlife by David
Mizejewski or the Earl May Perennial Guideavailable at
your local Earl May Nursery & Garden Center.
Butterfly Host Plants
Annuals Perennials
Marigold Butterfly Milkweed
Snapdragon Daisy
Violet
Shrubs Evergreens
Lilacs Juniper
IBM# 912600 750 4/08
Copyright Earl May Seed & Nursery L.C. ©

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Corps of Engineers goes against good science still again

All Trees Near Levees Face Army Corps' Ax
Tuesday 09 June 2009
by: The Associated Press | Visit article original @ The Associated Press


Workers with the Army Corps of Engineers cut trees along the 17th Street Canal levee in New Orleans. (Photo: Ted Jackson / The Times-Picayune)
Policy aimed at protecting levees draws fire from locals.

Columbia, Louisiana - The Army Corps of Engineers is on a mission to chop down every tree in the country that grows within 15 feet of a levee - including oaks and sycamores in Louisiana, willows in Oklahoma and cottonwoods in California.

The corps is concerned that the trees' roots could undermine barriers meant to protect low-lying communities from catastrophic floods like the ones caused by Hurricane Katrina.

An Associated Press survey of levee projects nationwide shows that the agency wants to eliminate all trees along more than 100,000 miles of levees. But environmentalists and some civil engineers insist the trees pose little or no risk and actually help stabilize levee soil.

Thousands of trees have been felled already, though corps officials did not have a precise number of how many will be cut.

The corps has "this body of decades of experience that says you shouldn't have trees on your levees," said Eric Halpin, the agency's special assistant for dam and levee safety.

The saws are buzzing despite the outcry from people who say the trees are an essential part of fragile river and wetland ecosystems.

County Official Opposes

"The literature on the presence of vegetation indicates that it may actually strengthen a levee," said Andrew Levesque, senior engineer for King County, Wash., where the corps wants trees removed on the six rivers considered vital to salmon populations.

The anti-tree policy arose from criticism directed at the corps after Katrina breached levees in New Orleans in 2005. The agency promised to get tough on levee managers and improve flood protection.

In 2006, the corps began sending hundreds of letters to levee districts across the nation, ordering them to cut down "unwanted woody vegetation," a prospect that could cost many of the districts millions of dollars each in timber-clearing expenses.

Inspectors began an inventory of the levee system and told districts to fill in animal burrows, repair culverts and patch up erosion.

If they fail to comply, the agencies risk higher flood insurance premiums and a loss of federal funding.

"The corps' new edict was regarded as a major change in policy," said Ronald Stork, senior policy expert with California Friends of the River in Sacramento. "Something that is cheap and inexpensive is a chain saw. It was something to do that didn't cost a lot of money that made you feel better."

Resistance in Louisiana

Last summer, the cutting crews came to Columbia, La., on the wooded Ouachita River levee at Breston Plantation, an 18th-century French colonial estate.

The plantation is surrounded by sycamores, live oaks, elms, pines, cedars, magnolias and crepe myrtles. Hundreds of trees grow within 15 feet of the levee. In theory, they would all have to go.

But after months of negotiations with landowners and the Tensas Basin Levee District, the corps agreed to let the district chop down only a few dozen trees on the levee.

"We don't know how long the trees have been here, but they've never caused any problem up until now," said Hugh Youngblood, 61, whose ancestors came to Breston in the 1800s.

On a recent afternoon, his son, who is also named Breston, was upset as he walked the levee, pointing to a heap of limbs.

"They didn't even find a buyer for the wood or the pulp," the son said.

In 2007, the corps sought to clear oaks, cottonwoods, willows and other vegetation from 1,600 miles of levees in California's Central Valley. But state wildlife officials complained that the policy would destroy habitat, and residents in Sacramento and elsewhere objected that it would have turned rivers into little more than barren culverts.

The corps eventually dropped the idea.

In a neighborhood north of Sacramento, the corps plans to rebuild the levees surrounding a basin that is home to 70,000 people and has determined that 900 trees, mostly native valley oaks, must be cut down.

Experts outside the corps say a tree has never caused a U.S. levee failure.

"If trees are a problem, why aren't we having problems with them?" said George Sills, who formerly worked for the corps' Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Miss. "There's never been a documented problem with a tree."

Expert Complained to Corps

In a March 2008 e-mail, Sills told the corps to remove his name from an updated vegetation policy paper he worked on for the corps. He said he ran analyses for the corps "that looked at the possibility that the trees caused any of the (levee) failures in New Orleans" and "it was determined that trees did not lead to any of these failures."

Corps officials see it differently.

Halpin, the corps' dam and levee expert, said the agency does not know whether a tree has ever directly caused a levee failure. But he noted that dam failures have been linked to trees, including a 1970's collapse in Georgia that claimed 39 lives.

The corps also wants to get rid of trees for safety reasons. A treeless levee is easier to inspect and repair during a flood.

But none of that washes with local authorities whose levees are being targeted by the corps.

"This is something they've dreamed up. It's like they're hell-bent to write up some negative reports," said Frank Keith, levee commissioner of the Tulsa County Drainage District in Oklahoma, where levees contain the Arkansas River.

Some 230 miles of levees in Keith's district got an "unacceptable rating" in December 2007, and the district faced losing its federal accreditation in part because of tree growth. The district is working with landowners to cut trees and fix other problems the corps found with its levees.

The carping frustrates Larry Larson, executive director of the Association of State Floodplain Managers, a group based in Madison, Wis., that represents interests such as insurers and engineers.

"If you're going to have a levee, you have to be able to maintain a levee and make it safe," Larson said.

Others are skeptical.

In Portland, Ore., residents of the Bridgeton neighborhood on the Columbia River lost a legal fight in 2007 to retain cottonwoods and poplars. About 90 trees were cut down at a cost of $268,000, though the corps planted 255 others nearby.

"They don't care if that's good science," resident Walter Valenta said. "It is their policy."
»
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COMMENTS
This is a moderated forum. It may take a little while for comments to go live. Be civil and on-topic, don't threaten or advocate violence, please keep it under 300 words. Thanks for participating.

The Army Corps of Engineers,
Thu, 06/11/2009 - 02:17 — Anonymous (not verified)
The Army Corps of Engineers, doing what it does best- destruction, under the guise of "protection". The history of the Corps of Engineers is replete with similar instances of ill-considered and thoughtless stupidity.
EMAIL THIS COMMENT
"Halpin, the corps' dam and
Thu, 06/11/2009 - 02:08 — John DK (not verified)
"Halpin, the corps' dam and levee expert, said the agency does not know whether a tree has ever directly caused a levee failure. But he noted that dam failures have been linked to trees, including a 1970's collapse in Georgia that claimed 39 lives. " Dams are usually built of concrete, which resists penetration of tree roots until nature finally overcomes and the concrete starts to crack. Tree roots bind earth-works into an integral, living mass: - Natures version of reinforced concrete. Take a look at the world's mud-slide disasters, most of these were caused by de-forestisation.
EMAIL THIS COMMENT
"Corpses" of engineers is
Thu, 06/11/2009 - 01:14 — dtroutma (not verified)
"Corpses" of engineers is more applicable. While tree roots can do a number on sidewalks, or levees- the corps is responsible for much of the flooding in the midwest with their "protection" projects. Channeling flows is their favorite project, even when they aim the channels directly at freeways, which during flooding they didn't project, wipe out the freeways. The corps has probably cost more, and caused more damage, than any other "federal" agency.
EMAIL THIS COMMENT
Army Corps of Engineers?
Thu, 06/11/2009 - 00:02 — Regina (not verified)
Army Corps of Engineers? What engineers? What are their qualifications? Where did they get degrees, and what degrees did they get? Do they have Professional Engineers' ratings? Trees are known to stabilize soil. New Orleans was a fiasco of engineering errors, and still is, under the Corps of Alleged Engineers.
EMAIL THIS COMMENT
A sad example of "quick fix"
Wed, 06/10/2009 - 23:03 — Anonymous (not verified)
A sad example of "quick fix" reasoning that will only make matters worse. Taking out all these trees will cause FAR greater problems than it will cure, including the most obvious problem of all: erosion of the levees in storm and high water conditions. Some kind of Orwellian insanity has taken hold. I can't believe this is even being considered. Since when does removing the bones from a body help it stand up straighter??

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

West Fork Watershed Celebration and River Cleanup set for Saturday June 13, 2009

For details, call Frances Hime at 225-1611
West Fork Watershed Celebration & River Cleanup on June 13
For immediate release -- June 3, 2009
The 4th annual West Fork Watershed Celebration and River Cleanup will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 13, at Riverside Park, on Arkansas 170 in downtown West Fork. Volunteers will check in from 8-9:30 a.m. at the park, then fan out to stations along the river and clean up targeted areas. The cleanup will end at 11 a.m., when a free chicken lunch will be served to the first 150 people. Door-prize drawings are scheduled for noon. In addition, there will be live music and educational booths. Volunteers may pre-register by calling 225-1611 or 444-1916. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Cleanup participants will be required to sign up and complete liability forms. These forms may be downloaded and completed in advance. Just visit www.wfepa.org. Volunteers also may show up that day at 8 a.m. and register on site.
The West Fork of the White River flows into Beaver Lake, which is our supply of drinking water. Each year, a cleanup of our river is conducted as part of protecting our source of safe drinking water and protecting wildlife habitat.
The event is being coordinated by the West Fork Environmental Protection Association. Sponsors and partners include the Watershed Conservation Resource Center, the City of Fayetteville, the City of West Fork, Kiwanis Club, Audubon Arkansas, Washington County Environmental Affairs, the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Arkansas Stream Team, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, Arvest Bank, Bank of Fayetteville, Tyson Foods, the Arkansas Canoe Club, and Beaver Water District.
For details, call 225-1611 or visit www.wfepa.org

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Arkansas officials say 'Don't Do Fescue'

Arkansas “Don't Do Fescue" is theme of AGFC public campaign
JONESBORO - Tall fescue is a widely used forage crop. It is insect resistant, tolerates poor soil and climatic conditions well and has a long growing season. Unfortunately, tall fescue also has a downside.

With approximately four million acres of pasturelands planted in tall fescue, Arkansas has a great deal of this crop. According to David Long, agricultural liaison with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the agency is working diligently to help the public understand the shortcomings of this type of grass.

"The AGFC has developed a new tool in its effort to educate landowners about the toxic and negative effects of Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue to farm wildlife. A new bumper sticker entitled 'Don't Do Fescue' is now being distributed to agency employees and others interested in spreading the word," Long said. Tall fescue is a common forage grass that has been planted across Arkansas for over 40 years.

Estimates are that about 70 percent-95 percent or 4 million acres of the pasturelands planted with tall fescue in Arkansas are infected with an endophyte fungus. The fungus causes declines in bobwhite quail, cottontail rabbits, grassland songbirds and also limited other game populations such as white-tailed deer and wild turkey.

"The fact that the plant is actually toxic to both domestic livestock and farm wildlife species is accepted by agriculture extension specialists and wildlife biologists alike," Long said. "The plant produces chemicals causing the fescue to have very toxic qualities. The alkaloids are found throughout the plant, but are especially concentrated in the seeds and leaves," he explained.

In cattle, the fungus causes excessive body temperatures, elevated respiratory rates, loss of appetite, body weight loss, lowered fertility rates and abortion of fetuses. Dairy cows often show sharp declines in milk production. Horses are affected also with more aborted fetuses, foaling problems, weak foals and reduced or no milk production. The CES estimates that this endopytic toxin cost American beef producers up to $1 billion a year in lost profits.

"It's very important for private landowners who desire viable wildlife populations on their property to know the effects of planting fescue," Long noted. "Many species of wildlife would directly suffer these same negative effects if they were confined to the pasturelands as are livestock. However, since they are free ranging, they simply avoid the fungus infected fescue pastures, but nevertheless, this results in loss of farm wildlife habitat on these acres. You may have deer and turkey travel through tall-fescue pastures, but they rarely find food sources available they can utilize, since the aggressiveness of the fescue usually results in solid stands of the plant," Long concluded.

The grass is a sod-forming turf with thick matted growth that also limits movement of young bobwhite quail, turkey and cottontail rabbits, provides no nesting habitat for wild turkey or quail, and is extremely poor habitat for many declining grassland species of songbirds. "Bottom line, fungus infected tall-fescue pastures offer little food, cover or nesting habitat to a broad range of farm wildlife," he said.

"Tall fescue has been planted in an estimated 4 million acres of the 5.4 million acres of pasture scattered over the state and for all practical purposes is of no value to farm wildlife. With the widespread establishment of tall fescue pastures, a great loss of wildlife habitat for deer, turkey, quail, cottontails and grassland songbirds has occurred.

Many landowners now recognize this problem and are interested in eliminating tall-fescue on some or all of their acreage. However, many landowners continue to plant tall-fescue, not knowing the detrimental effects it will have to wildlife. (There is an endophyte-free variety of tall fescue available for planting but it is less viable and hardy, and still provides very limited habitat for wildlife.)

We want to educate all landowners regarding this fact because there are other planting options to providing livestock forage and wildlife habitat on their farms," Long explained.

Please help spread the word to landowners "Don't Do Fescue!" by requesting a bumper sticker to place on your vehicle. Especially if they have an interest in managing for wildlife on their farm. For more information contact David Long at 877-972-5438 or dlong@agfc.state.ar.us.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Annual War Eagle celebration Saturday near Huntsville

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of Audubon Arkansas invitation to the third annual War Eagle celebration tomorrow at Withrow Springs State Park.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

FarmToTable theme of today's program in the Rose Garden of the Walton Art Center with renewable-energy lecture at Night Bird bookstore at 2 p.m.

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of OMNI Springfest poster.

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of poster.

Solar Power Struggle
Professor Richard Hutchinson of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston will speak on "The Struggle for the Solar Future" at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, at Nightbird Books on Dickson Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
An inquiry into environmental change and the obstacles and opportunities in the path of the renewable energy transition.
Sponsored by OMNI Center for Peace, Justice, and Ecology.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Brown thrashers may be spotted at World Peace Wetland Prairie during Sunday's Earth Day celebration

Please click on image to Enlarge view of one of the many species of birds feeding and picking nesting sites on World Peace Wetland Prairie on April 17, 2009. The elusive brown thrasher is often able to slip into the thickets before a camera can capture its image. But the attraction of scattered brush piles and the excitement of mating season can make them a bit careless.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to set aside gas-lease money

http://www.nwaonline.net/articles/2009/04/11/news/041209arstatelandleases.txt

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Honeybees and all pollinators threatened by pesticides

Please click on images to ENLARGE view in top photo of honeybee on redbud and bumblebee in second photo on redbud in a chemical-free area around World Peace Wetland Prairie on April 8, 2009.



Honeybees in Danger
Sunday 12 April 2009
by: Evaggelos Vallianatos, t r u t h o u t | Perspective
When I was teaching at Humboldt State University in northern California 20 years ago, I invited a beekeeper to talk to my students. He said that each time he took his bees to southern California to pollinate other farmers' crops, he would lose a third of his bees to sprays. In 2009, the loss ranges all the way to 60 percent.
Honeybees have been in terrible straits.
A little history explains this tragedy.
For millennia, honeybees lived in symbiotic relationship with societies all over the world.
The Greeks loved them. In the eighth century BCE, the epic poet Hesiod considered them gifts of the gods to just farmers. And in the fourth century of our era, the Greek mathematician Pappos admired their hexagonal cells, crediting them with "geometrical forethought."\
However, industrialized agriculture is not friendly to honeybees.
In 1974, the US Environmental Protection Agency licensed the nerve gas parathion trapped into nylon bubbles the size of pollen particles.
What makes this microencapsulated formulation more dangerous to bees than the technical material is the very technology of the "time release" microcapsule.\
This acutely toxic insecticide, born of chemical warfare, would be on the surface of the flower for several days. The foraging bee, if alive after its visit to the beautiful white flowers of almonds, for example, laden with invisible spheres of asphyxiating gas, would be bringing back to its home pollen and nectar mixed with parathion.
It is possible that the nectar, which the bee makes into honey, and the pollen, might end up in some food store to be bought and eaten by human beings.
Beekeepers are well aware of what is happening to their bees, including the potential that their honey may not be fit for humans.
Moreover, many beekeepers do not throw away the honey, pollen and wax of colonies destroyed by encapsulated parathion or other poisons. They melt the wax for new combs: And they sell both honey and pollen to the public.
Government "regulators" know about this danger.
An academic expert, Carl Johansen, professor of entomology at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, called the microencapsulated methyl parathion "the most destructive bee poisoning insecticide ever developed."
In 1976, the US Department of Agriculture published a report by one of its former employees, S. E. McGregor, a honeybee expert who documented that about a third of what we eat benefits from honeybee pollination. This includes vegetables, oilseeds and domesticated animals eating bee-pollinated hay.
In 2007, the value of food dependent on honeybees was $15 billion in the United States.
McGregor also pointed out that insect-pollinated legumes collect nitrogen from the air, storing it in their roots and enriching the soil. In addition, insect pollination makes the crops more wholesome and abundant. He advised the farmer he should never forget that "no cultural practice will cause fruit or seed to set if its pollination is neglected."\
In addition, McGregor blamed the chemical industry for seducing the farmers to its potent toxins. He said:
"[P]esticides are like dope drugs. The more they are used the more powerful the next one must be to give satisfaction" and therein develops the spiraling effect, the pesticide treadmill. The chemical salesman, in pressuring the grower to use his product, practically assumes the role of the "dope pusher." Once the victim, the grower, is "hooked," he becomes a steady and an ever-increasing user.
No government agency listened to McGregor.
The result of America's pesticide treadmill is that now, in 2009, honeybees and other pollinators are moving towards extinction.
In October 2006, the US National Research Council warned of the" "demonstrably downward" trends in the populations of pollinators. For the first time since 1922, American farmers are renting imported bees for their crops. They are even buying bees from Australia.
Honeybees, the National Academies report said, pollinate more than 90 crops in America, but have declined by 30 percent in the last 20 years alone. The scientists who wrote the report expressed alarm at the precipitous decline of the pollinators. Unfortunately, this made no difference to EPA, which failed to ban the microencapsulated parathion that is so deadly to honeybees.
Bee experts know that insecticides cause brain damage to the bees, disorienting them, making it often impossible for them to find their way home.
This is a consequence of decades of agribusiness warfare against nature and, in time, honeybees. In addition, beekeepers truck billions of bees all over the country for pollination, depriving them of good food, stressing them enormously, and, very possibly, injuring their health.

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Evaggelos Vallianatos, former EPA analyst, is the author of "This Land Is Their Land" and "The Passion of the Greeks.