Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rain Garden information for Red Oak neighbors and others Page 1


Rain Garden information for Red Oak neighbors and others Page 2


Rain Garden information for Red Oak neighbors and others Page 3


Rain Garden information for Red Oak neighbors Page 4


Rain Garden information for Red Oak neighbors and all Page 5


Rain Garden information for Red Oak neighbors and all others Page 6


Please see at least five older posts with photos from the park further down the list of archived files, with three in the month of August and the rest in September.

I truly believe that many people who live upstream from the Red Oak Park can be persuaded to participate in a project that would create rain gardens in private yards with gutter and downspouts sending water to the rain gardens and other lawn areas with absorbent soil.

A reasonable number of rain gardens and the use of rain barrels in addition could make it possible to reduce the loss of trees in Red Oak Park and allow Dave Evans to present a plan that would protect wildlife habitat and even provide more wildlife habitat without losing much shade and any of the facilities already in the park in his effort to slow erosion of the stream corridor that currently is subject to frequent, intense but short-lived flash floods.

The few people in the neighborhood whom I have talked to spoke encouragingly of considering such a plan. Please allow them a chance to see such a plan before adopting the Stream Team plan or totally rejecting it. Dave Evans of the Game and Fish Commission, Katy Teague of the Washington County Extension Service and Carole Jones of the city park department likely can offer ideas on potential cost for different sizes of rain gardens.

To eliminate dangerous runoff into the park under the largest storm conditions, of course, water would need to be diverted via curb cuts and possible other alterations of the storm-drain system to send water from the streets onto land where it could soak in. The good news is that the subdivision likely has enough absorbent soil under lawns to soak up more water than it gets now.

Gutters on every house to route water from rooftops to rain barrels and from there (when the barrels fill) to appropriate-sized rain gardens would be the first item, with water from patios and driveways and sidewalks routed to green space second. Then larger rain gardens on park property could be planned with the curb cuts and other relatively expensive infrastructure work considered last.

With cooperation of a reasonable percentage of property owners, much could be done at little city expense. If federal or state grants later were explored, some source of funding might be found to support the city's efforts in the area during this time of expected slow revenue growth.

As Mayor Coody knows from attending the creation of several rain gardens in Fayetteville, there is a coalition of experienced rain-garden volunteers who likely would help to train neighborhood volunteers to lead creation of the facilities in the watershed that sends water to Red Oak Park.

The potential saving of park facilities and shady greenspace for coming generations appears well worth the effort.

If such a project succeeds in what is probably the neediest piece of park property in the city, it will encourage more developers to submit projects with such features already included. And natural rain gardens such as World Peace Wetland Prairie on South Duncan Avenue are likely to be protected where they already exist on land slated for development because it costs nothing to leave them functioning, while a traditionally engineered stormwater plan is always expensive to build.

Aubrey James Shepherd
P.O. Box 3159
Fayetteville, Arkansas 72702

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Audubon Arkansas' new NW Arkansas man's first visit to World Peace Wetland Prairie

PLEASE CLICK on photo to enlarge.

Dabney Brannon has degrees in environmental science and agronomy. Audubon now will have two men on duty in its Fayetteville office to advise and provide information on environmental projects and problems in Northwest Arkansas.

Banned books read at Nightbird Bookstore in Fayetteville, Arkansas

PLEASE click on photo to enlarge.

Mendi Knott (left) and Leigh Wilkerson (right) led the reading of banned books Friday night at the Nightbird Bookstore at 557 S. School Ave. in Fayetteville, Arkansas. They are enjoying the snacks after the members of the OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology and other supporters of the freedom to write and to read went home.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Red Oak Park erosion problem requires rain gardens upstream. Will Neighbors agree?

Fayetteville's Red Oak Park is near the center of Google's aerial photos above.

Please click on images to enlarge.

RED OAK PARK appears as a narrow band of timber running north and south. The road running left to right (east and west) near the bottom of the screen is Wedington. The road running roughly east and west near the top of the screen is Mount Comfort. The road at right running from Wedington to Mount Comfort is Rupple.

To the left of Rupple Road is the subdivision from which water flows north down the streets and storm drains and enters the south end of Red Oak Park through culverts on each side.

On the east (right) side of the wooded portion there is a treeless space of about two square blocks with a walking/cycling trail inside its periphery. An embankment running northeast/southwest across the northern third of the park carries New Bridge drive.

Dave Evans of the Game and Fish Commission presented a fine plan to the Fayetteville City Council during an agenda session Tuesday.

It shows less modification of the stream corridor than did his original plan, which means it cannot be as effective.

Dave assumes there is no will to develop a system of storm gardens upstream. He may be correct in that assumption because better solutions will cost money, probably more money.

The neighborhood's idea of damming up the south end (upstream) to create a pond to catch and temporarily hold stormwater would destroy excellent wildlife habitat in the upstream portion of the park. However, the trees are not as impressively straight and tall. But some are works of natural art, nonetheless.

The mayor summed it up that there were two options: Do Dave's plan or do nothing. He didn't mention rain gardens.

A raingarden in every upstream yard will solve most of the problem. The problem is allowing water to run into the streets and through storm drains to the creek (gully) through the woods.

The REAL solution means routing water FROM the streets to the yards to soak in.

This means revising the city's whole primitive, outmoded idea of using streets as conduits for quickly moving stormwater and related silt and pollutants directly into streams and thus to either the Illinois River (into which Red Oak Park's water eventually flows), or into the White River and Beaver Lake, through the Town Branch, West Fork and other tributary streams on the east and south.

Dave says the Corps of Engineers would not allow damming the creek as some of the neighbors suggest doing. If they allow a destructive dam on Lee Creek to provide water for projected growth of cities in the Arkansas River Valley, why wouldnl't they allow a useful, protective dam in that flashflood-created gully to protect a city park?

The city could cut curbs in appropriate places upstream to get water onto the land and subsidize the building of rain gardens. Anything less will be ineffective in saving the park for people and other living things.

Rain gardens offer an incredible improvement to all those mowed lawns. And the open portion of the park could become a huge rain garden where a large amount of the water could be routed to be cleaned naturally by settling out any sediment and debris before being allowed to flow into the creek well after rain and the threat of flashflooding has ended.

The neighborhood has to get behind rain gardens or forget the timber in the park. And the basketball court and pavilion and trail all will remain at risk.

If rain gardens were authorized, Dave's plan could be further modified to encourage the gully to become more of a meandering stream without removing a mass of big trees. But, as long as the volume of water coming from the surrounding streets and yards is not reduced, Red Oak Park will remain a northwest Fayetteville disaster.

Lee Creek Dam plan resurrected by Congress

How many times has this plan to dam an Ozark river and flood another beautiful valley been suppressed?

Lee Sadler's story in the Sept. 25 editions of The Morning News reports on the $23-billion Water Resources Act:

"The bill also authorizes construction of a dam on Lee Creek in Crawford County, 12 miles north of Van Buren. The Pine Mountain dam would create a flood-control lake that would be used as a regional water supply.

"The dam was initially authorized by Congress in 1965.

"Opponents of the dam maintain it would destroy the beauty of the free-flowing creek and irrevocably harm the wildlife around it."

The verb "maintain," of course, ought to be "say." The factual statement is irrefutable and listing endless imagined or actual possible benefits of the project cannot change the fact of the authorized project's inevitable harm.

Let's hope all conservationists and conservation organizations will keep rising again and again to make sure no more dams will ever be built in this or similar places.

Does Fort Smith have a sustainability coordinator?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sierra Club and other environmental-conservation meeting announcements at is the link to Aubrey's view, a Web log running announcements of interest to NW Arkansas conservationists.

Aubrey's View

BAN RED DIRT and protect precious soil and water quality

PLEASE click on photos to enlarge. BOTTOM photo shows new sidewalk at a new development on Sixth Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Sept. 5, 2007. Red dirt and almost as impermeable yellow dirt used on such sites contribute to siltation of streams and speed stormwater runoff and thus increase the threat of flash flooding. This water enters the White River's West Fork's Town Branch 200 feet in the background and enters Beaver Lake miles away. It aggravates the damage being done by nearly 30 acres of soil removal and replacement on the Aspen Ridge development to the east and south.

The TOP photo shows slightly different view of same scene on Sept. 23, 2007, after grass has sprouted and trees have been planted to the right. That may pass city inspection and it may even prevent most erosion. However, it won't delay stormwater runoff nearly as effectively as it would had the ditch been lined with only absorbent soil and native grass planted. Would someone please stop by and tell us what species of grass is in that ditch and on nearby green space?

Lowell sewage problems made the news Sept. 24, 2007, in the northwest edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, emphasizing the lack of forethought in authorizing development without studying sites carefully.

No one in power has the nerve to suggest BANNING the moving of RED DIRT to development sites and requiring builders to have plans drawn for engineered foundations that protect the existing soil, which in so many of the so-called "greenfield" building sites and many old neighborhoods being torn down for new apartments and condos is of the hydric or absorbent variety that actually cleans the water as it soaks slowly through and gives up pollutants and undesirable excess nutrients to native vegetation.
Among the most powerful living things that clean water and purify soil is a lowly fungus that spreads undergound in "good soil" and pops up as mushrooms. Even though some are poisonous and offer no food value to human beings, they improve the health of the soil, which supports all sources of human nutrition.

The greenfields and old neighborhoods where concrete slabs were never poured are the sort of places where "rain gardens" are virtually free. Just select the area where the water already runs and do minimal berming or damming to slow runoff and let the "good," organic soil do what it has always done. Then put up good gutters around the eaves of the buildings and route the rain water correctly.

World Peace Wetland Prairie in south Fayetteville is a small area that demonstrates how such soil works. It holds its own water and stands in contrast to the adjacent Aspen Ridge site where all such soil has been removed or buried.

Visit WPWP on a day when it is extremely dry but rain is predicted. Come back during or soon after the rain and then visit a day or two later. The water stands briefly but soaks in rapidly and the soil soon is ready to soak up more.

Created in seven days or through millions of years of evolution? Take your pick, but such wonderful soil kept settlers here and is among the greatest gifts that area residents have inherited.

Sustainable neighborhood plans can help fight global climate change

For this week's call to action on a worldwide level, please see Dick Bennett's blogspot at

The site is Peace, Justice, Ecology and a live link is listed on the right side of this page.

The Walker Park planning sessions are a good place to make a difference globally by acting locally.

You can't have one without the other!

Everyone welcome at neighborhood charrette

City staff members were at Jefferson School at 8 a.m. today and will be there until 8 p.m. tonight to share maps and potential planning ideas with residents of south Fayetteville as well as anyone who shows up.

The process is excellently handled and the main purpose is for people who live in the southcentral portion of Fayetteville to have a chance to guide planning for their neighborhoods and business areas for years to come.

Now is the time to share YOUR OPINION.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Planning staff members earn overtime for extra weekend work

Please CLICK on photos to enlarge.

Several staff members represented the Fayetteville Planning Division at Walker Park, the Senior Center and Jefferson School on Friday night, Saturday morning and all day Sunday.

Included were department heads who won't get overtime, but let's hope they are able to take compensatory vacation time. It is disappointing that more people who actually live in the neighborhood didn't turn out to study potential ideas and suggest their own.

I talked to a lot of people with strong opinions who simply won't go and commit their ideas and opinions to the public record.
Others don't care. Many haven't learned about the process, even though it has been well publicized. Plenty of opportunity still exists during the coming week.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Razorback crowd disappointed

Bruce Walker, the main man at Flying Possum Leather, took a break to watch the first half of the Razorback football game against Kentucky on Saturday.
Walker represents the few longtime business owners who have managed to survive on Dickson Street by providing a quality product and by being his own best salesman as well as a skilled craftsman.

Somewhat similar small businesses in south Fayetteville are at particular risk as the planning process goes on for the Walker Park Neighborhood, which includes both sides of South School Avenue from Prairie Ave./Fourth and Fifth Street to a bit past Fifteenth Street.

Those diverse small businesses and nearby affordable housing make south Fayetteville as is a walkable, efficient neighborhood, where many residents seldom are forced to drive for basic services, shopping and, for the luckiest few, to their place of employment.

The old trees and old houses are the local model, despite obvious deterioration and neglect in some spots, of the best of sustainable communities that the new urbanists are pushing for various development sites.

And the restaurants offer the best food at reasonable prices available anywhere in Northwest Arkansas.

The push for gentrification should not be allowed to take the good things away.

Dickson Street and the Square have been priced out of the market for the majority of people working in the restaurants, etc., in that area. And the old houses are being taken down for more expensive multifamily buildings rapidly. Service workers are being forced to commute greater distances.

The city must protect what works for the workers or pay workers in the new buildings so much that the payroll will rise to match the food and other service prices and the RENT on those shiny, new architectural wonders being projected for the future.

Walker Park Charrette draws 60 or more people Saturday

Larry Trainor says get involved

Please click on the photo to enlarge.

The first session of the Walker Park Neighborhood plan charette was deemed a success by some. There was one person for every street sign posted and another for every 50 brochures handed out, maybe. But the series gets serious this morning at 9 a.m. at the Fayetteville Senior Activity Center on South College. Be there.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thanks to friends at Fayetteville transportation department

The dangerous curve that has served for decades as the intersection of South Duncan Avenue and Eleventh Street now has a big arrow to guide northbound traffic to the east toward South Hill Avenue and on to West Sixth Street.

This may not be the most dangerous curve on Northwest Arkansas' Heritage Trail, but to the Town Branch neighborhood and people who daily use it while cutting through the neighborhood it has been a point of concern, even before the old extension of Duncan that led into Don Hoodenpyle's driveway to the north and to the now-destroyed mobilehome park to the west was dug out in the expectation of creating a southeast entry to the now-on-hold Aspen Ridge townhouse development in the winter or spring of 2006.

So thanks to Perry Franklin and the others who try to keep our transportation infrastructure functional and safe.

Butterfly, groundhog find something to love along railroad edge

Please click on photos to enlarge.

Butterflies and ground hogs may be associated with rich soil and healthy plant life, but the two above were trying to maintain their territory despite a lot of human activity nearby and even the removal of the habitat along the railroad near Spring Street and West Avenue south of Dickson Street.

It isn't easy to leave one's home territory. People evicted from rental property often camp nearby for lack of a better place to go. Wild things tend to be the same way. A monarch caterpillar tossed into the surrounding grass when a mower takes out a milkweed is in trouble. Monarch caterpillars cannot live without live milkweed foliage and become bird food or die without ever becoming a butterfly and provide a little extra nutrition to the ground.
Squirrels finally give up the spot where a big oak or hickory has fed their ancestors for generations and migrate to the nearest similar habitat, but the number of squirrels in their new habitat may already be at carrying capacity, which means they may have to move on or fail to reproduce in that area. Numbers of a given species are limited by predators, of course, but food and shelter must be adequate or numbers fall anyway.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Workin' on the railroad?

Please click on individual photos to enlarge.

Three young men said they were working for Hank Broyles and John Nock clearing what appears to be railroad right of way between Spring Street and Dickson Street west of West Avenue.

What is the flagged stake marking? Is that the edge of the railroad right of way? Are they removing vegetation from the slope, which they agree will allow erosion? How is this comparable to what happened at Aspen Ridge?

Hank Broyles, at an August 24 walking tour of Aspen Ridge with two members of the Fayetteville City Council and several members of the Town Branch Neighborhood Association, reiterated what he said back in 2004 — "I'm going to sell the railroad. People all over Fayetteville live next to the railroad."

So, does this destruction of the vegetation along the railroad just south of Dickson Street stand as evidence that Hank actually believes that people want the natural sound barrier removed and choose to live next to a railroad that is higher than their homes?

If that is the case, he gets point for consistency.

If indeed the workers are slipping over onto railroad right of way, there is a problem. Neighbors along the Town Branch have questioned whether the Aspen Ridge developers had a right to clearcut the slope of the railroad embankment.

Broyles on Aug. 24 said that "getting to talk with the railroad is difficult. I don't know what they know." Surely, he wouldn't have workers on railroad property or what appears may be railroad property if he hasn't overcome that difficulty.

One of the workers said they would be replacing the old bushes with Vinca, which comes in several varieties and is indeed excellent ground cover. However, it might have been most effective if the well-established plants rooted there had been retained.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Don Hoodenpyle and Perry Franklin, head of Fayetteville's transportation division, talk about the situation at Eleventh Street and South Duncan Avenue on Friday.

Franklin said a big arrow pointing toward 11th St. might help keep people from running off the end of Duncan and landing in the area dug out for a southeast entry to Aspen Ridge but left to serve as a boat-launching ramp for Aspen Bayou. About two weeks ago, a man actually launched his small car out over the Aspen Bayou but found it dry and survived.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Fawn sacrificed to growth-generated traffic

Does and fawns have been plentiful on Aspen Ridge in the Town Branch watershed this spring and summer. Don Hoodenpyle's gardens and a few acorn-producing oaks in the small park north of World Peace Wetland Prairie have kept encouraging them to migrate each night from a mile or two to the south.

A little after 8 p.m. Friday another fawn hit the pavement west of Beechwood Avenue when a vehicle was unable to stop as the little deer crossed the road from south to north, heading into the still-vegetated area along the west arm of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River but possibly headed all the way to Pinnacle Prairie and World Peace Wetland Prairie or Aspen Ridge and Don Hoodenpyle's garden.

Young deer are plentiful now. Several cross Aspen Ridge between Rochier Hill, Pinnacle Prairie, World Peace Wetland Prairie and Hoodenpyle's garden near the main arm of the Town Branch every night. If you doubt it, walk across Aspen Ridge and count the tracks of several sizes. Then go right after a rain when the tracks are melted away and return the following day and try to count how many different deer have made the many tracks.

There'll be one less the next time it rains. That fawn's tracks may still be visible on Aspen Ridge, but the next rain will wipe out the final evidence that the fawn ever existed. And let's hope does don't suffer as much as women when their young are killed. But don't pretend they aren't disappointed or saddened or grieved or something similar to what we think of as uniquely human emotions.

Our city needs to bring a serious, experienced wildlife biologist onboard to help plan wildlife corridors along with the trail planner. Deer, coyotes and such should not be forced to cross a lot of paved, heavily traveled streets to get to the places where their ancestors always did their midnight grocery shopping.

Admittedly, some people don't want any wildlife in the city and destroy their own trees, shrubs and native tall grass to get rid of them. But most of the destruction of habitat is for new construction. New construction sites can be planned with consideration for all living things. And some architects and engineers are willing to participate. Can we get everyone on board?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tracy Hoskins has strange idea of "blighted"

This item was created as a comment on a September 12, 2007, post on the popular The Iconoclast
blogspot titled "Tracy Hoskins and His Johnson."

Tracy Hoskins is a nice guy. However, he is still negotiating with the Fayetteville planners over details of his proposed
Park West
. Another project in the Illinois River will require careful study, regardless of which city has jurisdiction.
As biologist Joe Neal (right, in photo above), said on a March 10, 2007, visit to the Park West, "This is all wetland prairie and none of it should be developed."
Could that be the same problem at the Johnson site?
Hundreds of acres of wetland in the Clear Creek watershed are already developed or also threatened with development. I am sure the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission will want to help with the project in order to get more Northwest Arkansas silt into the Illinois River and Lake Tenkiller.

Any stormwater and water-quality expert would see the removal of vegetation and topsoil from such an area and addition of concrete and other impervious surfaces in the Illinois watershed as creating blight.

Reply to another part of the post and a comment on it: Actually, many people considered Johnson a destination until Antonio's closed. And, of course, Susie Wong's was just across Clear Creek from Johnson but it has been closed much longer than Antonio's. Actually, I believe that the owner was Johnson Constable and then Johnson Police Chief back in the day. So maybe Susie Wong's was actually in Johnson. Those are a couple of restaurants that likely won't ever be overshadowed in the dining memories of old-timers by any of the new places opening in the area.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Monday rain washes Aspen Ridge mud into streets & Town Branch of the White River's West Fork

Please click on photos to enlarge.
Monday's rain was wonderful for the land, except where the vegetation and even the absorbent topsoil has been removed and silt flows directly to our Northwest Arkansas streams and reduces the quality of downstream water in the watersheds of both the White River and Illinois River. See the preceding post for south Fayetteville resident Don Hoodenpyle's Tuesday morning chore resulting from the failure of the Aspen Ridge developers to manage their stormwater according to federal and state regulations.

Don Hoodenpyle shovels gravel into rain-cut ditch across driveway before breakfast

Please click on photos to enlarge.
Monday's rain washed out a deep cut that made it difficult for Don Hoodenpyle to cross Aspen Bayou between his house and the intersection of South Duncan Avenue and 11th Street. So Hoodenpyle went out about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday and began shoveling some of the waste gravel left on the site more than a year ago by workers who dug out the old street that led to his driveway. He finally got the small gulley leveled enough to make driving safer.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ward 4, Ward 1 development issues on CAT & Gov channels this week

Fayetteville's public channels on the Cox cable system will be rerunning some related meeting video this week (Sept. 11-15, 2007).

Govt. channel 16

2 p.m., Tuesday September 11, the recent meeting of residents of Ward 4 with developers Hank Broyles and John Nock and members of the city staff and Alderman Lioneld Jordan on Government Channel Cox City 16.

CAT channel 18
At 2 p.m. Thursday September 13, the recent meeting of Ward 1 residents, Council members Adella Gray and Brenda Thiel plus Hank Broyles and city engineer Ron Petrie and walk on the Aspen Ridge townhouse site.

At 9:10 p.m. Saturday September 15, the recent meeting of Ward 1 residents, Council members Adella Gray and Brenda Thiel plus Hank Broyles and city engineer Ron Petrie and walk on the Aspen Ridge townhouse site on Cox channel 18.

Thanks to
The Iconoclast
and to Marsha Melnichak and Susannah Patton in the Sunday Northwest Arkansas Times for bringing more public attention to development problems in the region.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Silt fences stop box turtles' migration to breed and lay eggs

This silt fence has many problems, particularly one of the now-dead trees in the riparian zone of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River lying across it.

Some towns and counties
in the United States have special commissions to deal with wetland issues.
The degree of detail that the Simsbury, Connecticut, Conservation Commission considers when approving construction in and around wetland areas is impressive. There would be plenty of knowedgeable people in Northwest Arkansas ready to serve if the cities and towns and counties would create conservation commissions here.

The box turtle facing toward the silt fence while sitting near the Town Branch may have been wondering how to reach the area where he used to find his mate two or three times a year. When silt fences are dug into the ground to prevent eroded soil from reaching a stream, they also prevent the passage of some species back and forth between the stream and the land where those species spend much of their time.

In the timbered wetland and moist-soil prairies near Northwest Arkansas streams, the most visible victim is the box turtle, which may spend months away from a permanent source of water by utilizing dew and rainwater and burrowing into the soft, damp earth. However, during the annual droughts of several weeks in Northwest Arkansas, these turtles may migrate to a spring or stream when their normal forest and prairie areas are bone dry.

The clearing of nearly 30 acres for Aspen Ridge resulted in a major migration of box turtles toward the Town Branch in summer 2005. At that time, the silt fences were new and blocked many from escaping the hot sun and the dry dirt. Youngsters in the neighborhood set some over the silt fences and released them to the water source.

Even water-dwelling turtles migrate far from swamps, lakes and streams to find the right soil to lay their eggs. Newly cleared land of any sort but particularly land where the naturally rich topsoil has been replaced with red dirt or paved over can be a fatal problem for these creatures.

About two decades ago in North Little Rock, a large auto-display lot was built on flat former pasture/prairie acreage between an old oxbow or cypress swamp off Bayou Meto and a major highway. Hundreds of water-based turtles were seen crossing the highway and trying to continue further to find suitable habitat for nesting after finding the gravel and concrete covering what had historically been a fully vegetated place to burrow in their eggs. Even those who succeeded in crossing and nesting may never have made it back to the water and any hatchlings would have been unlikely to make the return. Maybe a careless hawk or crow might have picked one up and dropped it in the right area to have a chance. But that seems far-fetched. Most simply died.

This is only one of the many shameful problems that occur when development isn't planned to allow for existing residents of an area, both people and other living things.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Global Warming Commission includes scientists who understand, businessmen who don't

Art Hobson (green shirt) visits with friends on the downtown square in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Hobson is among the scientists appointed to the governor's commission on global warming on Friday by Governor Mike Beebe.

Gov. Mike Beebe on Friday appointed 17 Arkansans to the new Governor's Commission on Global Warming.

Among its goals the commission by law is required to review scientific literature on global warming and the actions already taken by the federal government, evaluate the level of greenhouse gas emission in Arkansas and whether reducing that would affect global warming, produce a “comprehensive strategic plan” to “place Arkansas in a position to help stabilize the global climate, to allow Arkansas to lead the nation in attracting clean and renewable energy industries to our state, and to reduce consumer energy dependence on current carbon-generating technologies and expenditures.”

The commission, created by Act 696 of the 2007 Arkansas General Assembly, is to consist of 21 members, 17 appointed by the governor and two by the House speaker and two by the Senate president pro tem. The law requires the commission to study global warming and recommend ways to address the problem. The panel is to report its findings by Nov. 1, 2008.

"Global warming is a growing concern that requires study and action on both state and federal levels," Beebe said in a statement issued by his office. "This commission will give Arkansans our own perspective on the scope and potential impact of this phenomenon and recommend the best steps to take to protect ourselves, our environment and our economy for the future."

Among Beebe's appointees to the commission are Aubra Anthony of El Dorado, president and CEO of Anthony Forest Products; Nick Brown of Little Rock, a partner in Working Forest Group; state Rep. Joan Cash, D-Jonesboro, owner of Lawrence County Tractor; Steve Cousins of El Dorado, vice president of refining for Lion Oil, who will represent the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce on the commission; Jerry Farris of Jonesboro, professor of environmental biology at Arkansas State University; and Rob Fisher of Little Rock, executive director of the Ecological Conservation Organization.

The governor also appointed Richard Ford of Little Rock, professor of economics at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Miles Goggans of Little Rock, a lobbyist for the agriculture and timber industries; Art Hobson of Fayetteville, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Arkansas; Kevan Inboden of Jonesboro, special projects administrator for Jonesboro City, Water & Light; Christopher Ladner of Little Rock, chairman of the Arkansas chapter of U.S. Green Building Council; and Robert McAffee of Hackett, a climatologist and executive director of The Peaceable Kingdom and Thinking Like a Mountain Institute.

The governor's other appointees are Elizabeth Martin of Fayetteville, research specialist for the University of Arkansas, who will represent the AFL-CIO; Pearlie Reed of Little Rock, legislative liaison for the National Association of Research, Conservation and Development Councils; Cindy Sagers of Fayetteville, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Arkansas; Jeffrey Short of Malvern, who will represent the Arkansas Audubon Society; and Gary Voigt of Paron, president and CEO of Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp.

House Speaker Benny Petrus, D-Stuttgart, previously appointed state Rep. Kathy Webb, D-Little Rock, the lead sponsor of Act 696, and Bill Reed of Stuttgart, vice president of corporate communications and public affairs for Riceland Foods.

Senate President Pro Tem Jack Critcher previously appointed former state Sen. Kevin Smith of Helena and Joe Stratman of Blytheville, vice president and general manager of Nucor-Yamato Steel.

The act does not specify when or how often the commission will meet. Webb has said she hopes the commission will begin meeting this month.

Appointee Art Hobson said he was excited to be part of the commission and pleased with Beebe's choices.

"I'm really happy that the governor has appointed several scientists to this commission. To me, one of the most important things all along was that science be well represented," he said.

"With this commission, with the broad-based support it has, we really could be a leader (on the issue of global warming) in the next couple of years," appointee Robert McAffee said.

Bill Kopsky, executive director of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel, said the commission will benefit from being well-rounded, including among its members not only scientists and environmentalists but also representatives of industry.

"The business community is going to have to be a partner in solving this. It's a global problem," he said.

"I think we're going to achieve some really important, good solutions that the governor can take to the Legislature and get passed in 2009," said Glen Hooks, spokesman for the Sierra Club of Arkansas.

Don Richardson, director of the Arkansas Climate Awareness Project, said the state cannot afford to wait to take action on global warming.

"This is a great step forward in us not doing business as usual," he said.

How a silt fence does its job — or not

PLEASE CLICK on photo to enlarge. Top image taken Dec. 25, 2007, to show progress at the same spot. Fortunately, little rain had fallen between August and Christmas, so the mud was building but staying put. Rain was predicted for Dec. 26!
Second image taken about 2:20 p.m. Saturday, after rain subsided. Lower image taken early Friday morning. Change in flow is apparent if you enlarge images. Were the amounts of rain each day recorded? Did holder of stormwater permit check the silt fence each day? According to ADEQ, the records are right there on site someplace. One would hope in a dry spot! Top photo added about 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

This silt fence appears to need reinforcement. It has collected lots of rock and sediment and is serving almost clean water over its top, because that is what is coming from uphill to the north. The muddy silt on the nearby surface has all been washed off, thanks to a lot of nice slow rain on September 6-7 and a powerful flash flood-level rainfall Tuesday evening.

However, a big burst of hard rain today or tonight may fill the space behind the fence with more rock and debris and finally stretch it past its limit. The culvert immediately downstream will likely get a bit clogged at that point and the storm drain to the south will be expected to transport the whole mess toward Spout Spring Branch in Walker Park and maybe even to the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River and Beaver Lake.

I assume the contractor or developer isn't on site because he is busy writing his daily report on rainfall and the condition of his erosion-control devices.

In Razorback football talk, that photo might exemplify a bend/don't break defensive scheme.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Reviewing the Aspen Ridge tour: More notes. Watch more at 8:30 tonight and Saturday on CAT 18

Adella Gray of the Fayettevile City Council and Ron Petrie, the city engineer, talk about the creosote railroad ties lying on the side of the railroad covering the mouth of the old tunnel that in the past allowed the now-defunct east/west railroad from Oklahoma to go under the existing north/south railroad with both running side by side up to Dickson Street. A portion of the old east/west railroad bed is now the trail between Tanglewood Branch and the new Fayetteville Library. The portion across Aspen Ridge was supposed to become a connecting trail.
Not only are the creosote ties still blocking the mouth of the tunnel but also the bed of the railroad across Aspen Ridge has been removed along with the magnificent trees and native plants growing along it. The now-treeless trail is nothing but a muddy path meandering across the property.
The railroad dumped the ties over the mouth of the tunnel. EPA should already have ordered that cleaned up. Creosote lumber is considered a toxic substance.
Petrie said that the railroad has said it would not remove the ties and that the city's taxpayers will have to pay to have all the debris cleared out of the old tunnel before the trail can connect across the trestle (on which Gray and Petrie are standing), through the tunnel and on down the old rail bed to connect with Indian Trail, a city street that parallels Sixth Street.

Petrie said that the trail, if completed before construction, might not survive the construction. That would be true, UNLESS THE CITY ROPES IT OFF and forbIds the workers from getting near it with machinery.

The city failed to take ownership of the 0.86-acre timbered parcel dedicated as parkland on so-called Phase II of Aspen Ridgs and the topsoil was removed and dirt piled up on the silt fence running along the north edge of World Peace Wetland Prairie.

Actually, the silt fence should have separated the new park from all construction activities and the park's soil should have been left intact. The new park, like World Peace Wetland Prairie, had rich, absorbent topsoil.

The result of failing to maintain the silt fence along the north edge of WPWP was an algae bloom in the central flow of water in the city nature park. That algae bloom resulted after rain washed some of the new topsoil off the seeded area next to the railroad.
The prepacked seed system used on cleared ground contains chemical fertilizer as well as seeds selected for fast growth. Obviously, the new growth doesn't absorb all the fertilizer, something the magnificent soil in the nature area cannot benefit from.

Hank Broyles mentioned Prestige as another company bidding on the Aspen Ridge project. There are many companies on the Internet with that name. It would be interesting to find out what plan that group might have before they buy it.

The Northwest Arkansas Sustainability Center at
offers a very different set of attitudes than those displayed by many local developers.

Northwest Arkansas Sustainability Center

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Council Tables Aspen Ridge renewal. Will new owner take responsibility?

The City Council of Fayetteville, Arkansas, unanimously voted to table an ordinance extending the expiration date of R-PZD 04-13-7 (Aspen Ridge) to June 29, 2008.

The nearly 30-acre site is apparently for sale and the only publicly acknowedged bid has come from Hank Broyles of Fayetteville, who was one of the original owners but who said on Aug. 24, 2007, that his minority share was bought by his partner, Hal Forsyth after the two disagreed on details of the plan.

Big questions the council would like to have resolved before authorizing further work on the site include "Who will take responsibility for the current condition of the site and what changes in the plan are likely to be requested by a new owner or owners?"

Hal Forsyth
obviously is responsible until he sells his interest.
If Hank Broyles buys the property, he buys back the responsibility for the damage that he took on by advocating the acceptance of the proposal in 2003, 2004 and 2005. In fact, as the point man to the community he really never lost responsibility.

During the Aug. 24 walking tour of the site with neighbors and city officials, Broyles said "Absolutely not!" when asked about paying people who previously worked on the property. Apparently, that will be a matter for the courts, not a good situation for anyone involved, it would seem.

The photo above shows the flow of water downstream from the Eleventh Street bridge about 200 feet down the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River from the southeast corner of Aspen Ridge. A significant amount of the discoloration of that historically clear stream is coming from unvegetated areas of the Aspen Ridge project. The photo was made DURING the council meeting last night (Tuesday Sept. 4, 2007). A heavy rain began just as the meeting began and the nearly dry stream became a torrent in only minutes.

Granted, that water would not be clear if Aspen Ridge erosion were not occurring. A construction site immediately northwest of the Town Branch on Sixth Street also is eroding into the stream. Other polluting construction sites in recent months have included the new home of the president of the University of Arkansas, a new campus building north of Maple Street and just south of Cleveland Street and the new Sigma Nu Fraternity house east of Stadium Drive.

Campus buildings have nearly all been built without addressing stormwater problems. The only detention or retention pond on campus is on the western arm of the Town Branch south of Baum Stadium at the George Cole baseball field. City planners have seldom been included the campus projects and state regulators such as ADEQ appear to have a hands-off policy.

Town Branch Neighborhood
in 2003 began urging Hank Broyles to consider the existing overflow of the Town Branch in planning his Aspen Ridge project.

Broyles and Forsyth repeatedly appeared to be taking existing problems into account and had new plans drawn for the project at least three times by various entities, but the final city-approved version didn't match the expectations.

Will a new owner have a better plan and stick to it?

Monday, September 3, 2007

Answering questions from Aspen Ridge neighborhood/council tour

PHOTO made a few hours after the rain ended the morning of August 25. People on the tour August 24 walked on dry yellow and red dirt in the roadbed that is shown with standing water only 24 hours later.
If you have seen the video, then you'll have noticed these questions went unanswered.
If not, please revisit these questions and answers after you see the video on gov or Cat channel later this week. See schedule in previous post.
Let's answer the lost questions here and now. Us old folk deliberate before speaking and the moment to answer can pass fast, especially when a bunch of people have their own questions and answers as on the Aspen Ridge walking tour video (see schedule in preceding post).

Watching the walking tour on TV on Monday, I noticed that some questions went without good answers:
Brenda Thiel, one of the alderwomen for Ward I, asked how long are detention ponds, retention ponds or rain gardens supposed to hold the water.

Stormwater: In order to prevent flooding and to prevent siltation downstream, they must hold ALL the water that enters them until the silt settles out before their gates are opened to release the water. Otherwise, they serve only to prevent a small portion of the flooding and NONE of the siltation of the river and the lake. In these POA-controlled developments, the POA would be responsible for opening the gates for slow release maybe 24 hours after heavy rain.

Tree preservation: Jeremy Pate approved the tree-preservation plan for Aspen Ridge back in late 2004, commenting in a public meeting that allowing replacement rather than protection wouldn't affect anyone's vista. That occurred during a time when no tree-preservation person was employed by the city and Pate was adding that duty to his job as leader of the planning division. Obviously, he didn't have time to check out the "vista" from all directions around the site.
Unfinished storm-drain question from Lauren Hawkins got no definitive answer but a car flew off the end of S. Duncan and into the hole dug out for the southeast exit and entry to Aspen Ridge from the intersection of S. Duncan and W. 11th Street only two or three days after the meeting and was reported to appropriate authorities (see earlier post for photos and comment):
Apparently, no one in power came out to see the unfinished storm-drain that the car went over to crash into the dug-out entry to Aspen Ridge this week, so it remains without a safety fence and may catch another car at any moment, maybe killing someone this time. I hope I am not forced to photograph an accident worse than that one last week.
Hank Broyles asked whether a building wasn't better than a tree for baffling the sound of the railroad. A tree? The question sounded so absurd that I answered with a joking line about Fayetteville's love of trees. But the answer was that TREES are better than buildings for the purpose. If the one tree is larger than the one building, then maybe the building could equal the tree or be better. But thousands of trees were taken down on the Aspen Ridge site between the railroad and the neighborhood to the east.
True, the buildings will echo the sound back toward the railroad, hitting the side of Rochier Hill. However, that won't help the people in the buildings nearest the railroad. They'll get hit with that sound, plus the echo, plus the sound echoing back from the buildings across the giant retention pond from them.
Hank apparently doesn't live by a railroad:
No, Hank, buildings don't baffle sound as well as trees. Our neighborhood had THOUSANDS of trees between us and the railroad before the timber was all cleared. The trees are a diverse, uneven surface, with gaps and then limbs and leaves and trunks of another and a gap and more and more trees. A building reflects light and sound. Notice that walls and ceilings made to quieten rooms are not slick. Various rough, uneven finishes have been developed to baffle sound as well as to soften reflection of light.
Careful selection of outside material must be made if the railroad sound is to be reduced by the buildings. And buildings on fill material will shake a much as buildings on native soil. Buildings certainly won't be better than the forest that was there four years ago.

Aspen Ridge on TV this week, on council agenda Tuesday Sept. 4

The issue of a shutdown development project, Aspen Ridge Townhomes, is to be on the Fayetteville City Council agenda Tuesday, Sept. 4.
Because ownership of the land is uncertain and may change and because of numerous questions about the coming direction of the project, the council is expected to table the issue or possibly even deny it until the issues are settled and the project is brought through the planning process by whoever ends up owning the project.

Two shows on the Aspen Ridge townhouse development issue are scheduled to be shown on Government Channel (Cox 16) and CAT Channel (Cox 18) several times Sept. 3 through Sept. 8.
The issue is expected to be discussed at the Sept. 4 City Council meeting and issues of ownership and re-authorization of the project have not been resolved. At least one person who has bid on the property expects to bring the project back through the planning commission in a revised form.

Government Channel 16 has listed the tour of the property with neighbors, potential developers and council members to run at
5:45 p.m. today (Monday, Sept. 3, 2007)
Late morning Thursday Sept. 6, 2007
Tuesday's council meeting is scheduled to run live starting at 6 p.m. and Aspen Ridge would be under old business or unfinished business near the beginning of the meeting. That meeting will be broadcast again via Cox Cable at 9 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Developer Hank Broyles appears both in the Aspen Ridge tour video and again at 2 p.m. Tuesday on Gov channel 16 in the Ward 4 meeting to talk about a new development plan he is involved in. The two meetings offer an interesting comparison of a developers demeanor when talking about restarting an old project and when starting a new one.
John Nock is Broyles' partner in the venture in Ward 4, and Hal Forsyth was Broyles' former partner in the Aspen Ridge debacle in Ward I. Nock, of course, is trying to get a massive new project approved while at least one of his other projects remains far from complete.

CAT Channel 18 has scheduled broadcast of the onsite Aspen Ridge meeting and walking tour for 10:30 a.m. TODAY (Monday Sept. 3, 2007) and again at 4 p.m. Wednesday and
10 p.m. Thursday

A portion of the Aspen Ridge presentation at the Sept. 7 council meeting is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Friday and 9:30 p.m. Saturday on CAT 18.
Complete listings for CAT and Government channel appear each Sunday in the NW Arkansas Times.

Because of technical difficulties in the new automated broadcasting system at the PEG Center, glitches have frequently occurred on both stations. So, if the screen is black but there is sound or if the subject appears different from what is scheduled, please call 444-3434 to report the problem. Please be patient because public-access television lacks funding to provide 24/7 technical support.