Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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

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

Rail ties being dumped in mouth of tunnel in Fayetteville AR

Aubrey james | MySpace Video

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

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.

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.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

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

Please click on individual images to ENLARGE view of a sample of what you won't see on Earthday at World Peace Wetland Prairie but may see again if you visit in May. Native wildflowers and tall grass emerge later than the typical nonnative species found in many gardens in Arkansas.

Photo above reveals view northwest with Amorpha fructicosa bush in bloom. Also known as false indigo or indigo bush on May 21, 2009, at World Peace Wetland Prairie.

Cottontail rabbit reluctant to leave his grazing area and hoping photographer will back away on May 21, 2009, at World Peace Wetland Prairie.

In photo above, the tiny blue-eyed grass is seen growing near a tall dogbane or Indian Hemp plant.

Above, Asclepias viridis, also known as spider milkweed or antelope horns, is nearing full bloom. Viridis is the earliest of the milkweeds to bloom in Northwest Arkansas.

Above is an instance of a tall dogbane or Indian hemp plant with a shorter spider milkweed at right.
Dogbane seems always to pop out of the ground before the milkweed and the leaves of the two are similar. Both are plentiful at World Peace Wetland Prairie.
For more photos of wildflowers at WPWP, please see
WPWP wildflowers

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Partners for Better Housing to have final say in selecting firm to plan low-income housing project in woods and wetland along south Fayetteville stream

Design Firm Chosen


By Skip Descant

Thursday, March 4, 2010

FAYETTEVILLE — Protecting water and trees was a high priority in the selection of a landscape architecture and engineering firm to design plans for an affordable housing community in the Walker Park neighborhood in south Fayetteville.

“We don’t want to just have the typical mow everything down and start over,” said Kyle Cook, a Fayetteville alderman and a member of the selection committee that chose Community By Design as the firm to work on the Houses at Willow Bend project.

At least half of the proposed development’s rental units will be accessible to low- and very low-income residents — four-person families earning less than either $39,300 or $24,550, respectively. Homes for sale will be priced between $100,000 and $125,000.

The project involves construction of a 72-unit mixed rental and owner-occupied housing development on a 7.7-acre site along Washington Avenue between Ninth and 11th streets. The site is fairly wooded and includes a stream.

“We want to work with what’s there,” Cook said.

Karen Minkel, director of Fayetteville strategic planning and internal consulting, also served on the selection committee.

“Broadly, the selection committee looked at firms that demonstrated familiarity with the site, engineering and landscape architecture experience with both affordable housing and mixed-income housing projects,” Minkel said.

“And there’s also an architect,” Cook noted. “I thought that was a good addition, to have an architect on board.”

Brian Teague, owner of Community By Design, could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

The $8 million to $10 million project is being led by the Fayetteville Partners For Better Housing, an extension of the Fayetteville Housing Authority. In December, the nonprofit group requested $150,000 from the Fayetteville Public Facilities Board to pay for the preliminary design stage of the project. That money did not come through, said Hugh Earnest, a member of Fayetteville Partners’ board of directors.

“We’ve gone ahead and continued the effort to hire a landscape architect and we just have to figure out how to pay them,” Earnest said Wednesday as he drove back to Fayetteville from New Orleans, where he was attending an affordable housing conference.

Earnest said he’s looking at a variety of funding options.

“There’s no silver bullet,” he said.

“We are hopeful that we can pull enough stuff together so that we can get a federal home loan in March or April,” Earnest said. Federal Home Loan Banks provide low-cost funding for lending institutions to be used for home financing for affordable housing, small businesses and other uses.

Another option, said Earnest, could be federal stimulus money through Community Development Block Grants.

Twelve design firms competed for the project. The list was culled to three: Community By Design, Appian Centre for Design and McClelland Consulting Engineers, all of which have offices in Fayetteville.