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.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Arkansas Highway Department plan to stop flow of sediment to Mulberry River from Pig Trail repair site will cost $1.6 million

Please click on byline of Adam Wallworth to go to newspaper online and view full story and previous stories on the pollution of Mountain Creek and the Mulberry River.
See video by Tom Shuessler below.  Click on video to find high-definition view on You Tube. Also, watch CAT 18 on Cox Cable at 11 a.m.,  5 p.m. and 11 p.m. today for Schuessler's short slide show and description of what has been happening in recent weeks at the highway construction site on the Pig Trail (Arkansas 23). Programs on CAT also may be viewed simulcast online at
at 11 a.m.,  5 p.m. and 11 p.m. today. Click on WATCH ONLINE near right top corner of page.

Highway agency works to stem sediment flow into stream

 — State highway officials have begun work on a $1.6 million plan to stop the flow of sediment from an Arkansas 23 construction project into a Mulberry River tributary as state and federal environmental regulators consider penalties for the pollution.
“Even if they were to completely be able to remediate the site right now, that still doesn’t necessarily resolve any possible penalty,” said Ryan Benefield, deputy director of the Arkansas Departmentof Environmental Quality.
Benefield said the department will continue its enforcement action against the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department while it reviews a mitigation plan that the agency submitted Wednesday.
The plan comes in response to reports by environmental inspector Jeff Tyler, who detailed runoff problems that caused sediment to flow into a tributary of Mountain Creek half a mile downhill from the Arkansas 23 construction site.
Tyler began monitoring the site after a resident about 5 miles downstream complained about sediment in Mountain Creek, which feeds the Mulberry River.
Heavy rains caused the collapse of a 1, 200-foot section of Arkansas 23, a 19-mile stretch also known as the Pig Trail Scenic Byway, in March 2008. A second collapse prompted the state to close the road in December after repair work had begun.
The Highway Department approved a $1.6 million change order to address runoff problems Wednesday.
Most of the mitigation cost - $1.3 million - stems from removing dirt and rocks from the roadbed and alongside Arkansas 23 where contractor Kesser International is rebuilding the road, said Randy Ort, Highway Department spokesman.
That waste material had been leveled, seeded and mulched, but then heavy rain caused it to start sliding, according to officials.
Kesser International has already started building a gravel road to accommodate the heavy equipment needed to remove the material, Ort said.
The flow of underground water that caused the road to collapse in the first place is causing the sediment-runoff problem, Ort said.
Repairs are intended to stabilize the hillside, but there is no guarantee there won’t be another slide.
“It’s going to happen again, maybe not here, but up there again,” Ort said. “We’ve had slides all over north Arkansas, but most don’t impair roadways.”
The mitigation plan also calls for digging a trench along the base of the roadway to direct rainwater into two natural channels, Ort said. The channels will be lined with rock, he said.
The hillside will be seeded and mulched, but until that vegetation takes hold, wattles will be used to control surface runoff. Wattles are similar to sandbags and are used to stop sediment while still allowing water to flow through.
Benefield said he expects his staff to submit a draft consent administrative order next week to outline steps the Highway Department and Kesser International need to take to fix the problem.
At a minimum, the order will require the Highway Department to implement its plan as submitted, Benefield said. The order could include additional remediation steps and a fine.
Biologists have said sediment 2- to 10-inches deep has choked out aquatic life in the tributary and in Mountain Creek, although the pollution dissipates quickly in the Mulberry River.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is also pursuing enforcement action against the Highway Department and was expected to send a notice late Thursday or today, said Kyle Clark, chief of its enforcement branch and regulatory division.
Clark said the Highway Department will have 14 days to respond, but the Corps will likely accept any plan approved by the state environmental department.
State Sen. Ruth Whitaker, R-Cedarville, said she is waiting to hear back from Teresa Marks, director of the Department of Environmental Quality, and will continue to monitor the project. Whitaker questioned Highway Department officials about the runoff problem during the Legislature’s recent fiscal session.
Benefield said the consent administrative order will provide a legal framework to ensure that the Highway Department follows through with its plan and takes any needed future action. He said he expects the department to continue to cooperate.
Benefield couldn’t say whether the Highway Department has been subject to a consent administrative order before.
“I think it is fair to say it is uncommon, given the amount of work performed by the Highway Department,” he said.
Highway officials don’t plan to remove a portion of the spoil material that broke loose and slid into the tributary of Mountain Creek. Biologists have said removing that material could do more harm than good.
Arkansas, Pages 11 on 03/26/2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ask Congress to restore Clean Water Act 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

AR7 Donate ButtonTo contact American Rivers, email us at
To update your profile or change your preferences click here
To unsubscribe click here
American Rivers ©2010

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