Saturday, December 22, 2007

Workers try to keep Methodist mud out of Tanglewood Branch


Central United Methodist Church

Religious leaders on Bush and global warming

Methodists discuss environmentalism

The good news is that the mud in Lafayette Street gets shoveled back onto the appropriate areas rather than washed into the storm drain by a water-spraying truck as seen in a previous post from a construction site near the UA campus that feeds Tanglewood Branch and eventually joins Spout Spring on the western edge of Walker Park and then flows into the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Saturday, Dec. 22, is the first day of winter 2007-08

PLEASE CLICK ON TOP PHOTO TO SEE SUNSET on Friday, Dec. 21, 2007, the final day of fall. Photo taken from Don Hoodenpyle's driveway at 11th Street and South Duncan Avenue looking southwest across a part of the Aspen Ridge site and across the World Peace Wetland Prairie and the Pinnacle Prairie to the Pinnacle Foods production facility, formerly owned by Campbell Soup.

PLEASE CLICK ON LOWER PHOTO OF TRAIN PASSING BETWEEN ASPEN RIDGE development site and the Summit development site on Rochier Hill south of Sixth Street in south Fayetteville, Arkansas, in the fog as viewed through a zoom lens on Dec. 21, 2007.

Saturday December 22, 2007, is first day of winter

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Street Jazz on public television in Fayettenam

Richard Drake on history of public television in Fayettenam

Richard Drake has a wonderful article on his blog linked above. I hope others who remember those times will add comments. I had not yet moved back to Fayetteville from Little Rock when the events he describes took place. I had been working at the Democrat and next at the Gazette till it closed and finally at the Log Cabin Democrat during 11 of those early open-channel years.

Maybe, if open channel hadn't gone through such a difficult period in Fayetteville, by now other cities in the state would have an open channel/CAT channel plus a government channel and an education channel.

We know that a great many dedicated and talented volunteers are needed to make that happen in any city, large or small.

Fayetteville is fortunate to have not only great volunteers but also generous donors to make the system work here.

So much of the abuse of power and corruption in government we read about in other cities and counties is avoided here because there is an amazing amount of public information actually available on PEG TV channels and in alternative newspapers.

This keeps the commercial media alert to details of government that might be overlooked otherwise. And it keeps public officials aware of their responsibility to all members of the public.

And the Web logs now on the Internet are contributing greatly to the same process of allowing everyone access to information and giving everyone a voice in government affairs.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Fayetteville's city council passes compromise budget 7-0

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Fayetteville budget

The Morning News' Fayetteville budget story

Thank goodness that Lioneld Jordan was able to get a budget passed Tuesday night. I suspect the aldermen who attended and voted and department heads and staff members all left the meeting a lot happier than they expected to be a couple of months ago.
Thanks to all who worked hard and must have experienced a year's worth of anxiety during the budget-negotiating period.

The good news was that the council wasn't stampeded into destroying any good programs or dumping any good employees. Some issues brought up in the negotiating process can now be worked out in a sane fashion.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Final UA poultry sale ends early as supplies run out.

The lady facing the camera was the penultimate customer taking home turkey breast meat at $1 per pound from the University of Arkansas' final poultry sale at its poultry-processing plant on the university's experimental farm.

Does anyone have any accurate information about the ending of years of a tradition?

Speculation among the huge crowd (many gave up standing in line and left as the supply of various products ran out) included talk of the expense to the UA and fear of being sued.
About three dozen were in line until it was announced that the turkey breasts were all gone!

Sued by retailers or producers of fowl meat? It would be unlikely for anyone to sue claiming to have been made ill by eating any of that food!

No limit meant many got plenty


On the final day of the University of Arkansas poultry-processing plant's sale, some people got all they asked for at bargain prices. This allowed to the sale to end at noon. Normal hours had been noon to 5 p.m. but a 9 a.m. opening was anounced and customers who didn't get the work were just pulling into the parking lot after the early bunch had left, many frustrated when the eggs, chicken and turkey were all gone!

Sunday was a nice day for counting birds

Please click on image to ENLARGE.

Joan Reynolds (from left), Doyle Crosswhite, Leigh Helms, Ellen Neaville and Cathy Ross did the annual bird count Sunday afternoon Dec. 16, 2007, on Pinnacle Prairie and World Peace Wetland Prairie as well as other south Fayetteville areas.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Truck washing silt into N. Duncan Avenue; see where it goes in older posts below


Water taking silt into storm drain west side of N. Duncan Ave.

Tree roots cut on adjacent dug-out hillside


Which company listed on the sign holds the stormwater permit?

Someone has to fill in the log each time it rains. That means someone has to inspect all stormwater controls daily. The ADEQ doesn't have enough inspectors to visit each site in Washington County once a year much less daily. And the city of Fayetteville has only one stormwater engineer with numerous sites in violation of stormwater regulations in the city. Basically, this is all on the honor system and complaint driven. Does anyone want to complain about this to a half-dozen overworked people? Maybe the contractor hasn't trained the workers on best-management practices but they get the blame?

Regardless, this not only affects fish and wildlife in the waterways, it affects the quality and price of drinking water of people in four counties of Northwest Arkansas.

North Duncan Avenue silt flows to Tanglewood Branch


Top photo shows tributary entering Tanglewood Branch from the west just south of Center Street. Both streams normally flow clear but bring pollution from Dickson Street and other areas north and west of the Fayetteville square.

Lower photo shows Tanglewood Branch bridge on West Prairie Avenue. The sign points out that the branch flows to the White River (by way of Spout Spring Branch and the main Town Branch) to our drinking-water source, Beaver Lake. Although these branches all originate from perpetually flowing springs, all receive dirty runoff from storm drains in the streets. Drop something in front of the post office or drop something on the sidewalk outside the Arvest bank and this is where it goes. Drop something on the sidewalk along Lafayette Street between College and Ole Main and this is where it goes.

Governor's Commission hires consultants

Read about the work of the nonprofit consulting firm hired to provide information for the Arkansas Governor's Commission on Global Warming to use to prepare its recommendations to the legislature at the following Web site link:

The Center for Climate Strategies

Please read and sign the petition to the governor at the following link:

Petitions of interest

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dabney Brannon top official in Fayetteville office of Audubon Arkansas


Ken L. Smith and friend talk environmental conservation


Ken L. Smith and friend discuss careers in environmental conservation.

Mary Smith, Audubon Arkansas' director of education, visits Fayetteville

Mary Miller Smith, Director of Education
Ms. Smith joined the Audubon Arkansas team in 2000, and works with students across Arkansas to connect schools and local communities with nature. One of her primary projects is The Common Ground Education Initiative, a partnership between Audubon Arkansas and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, which focuses on project-based learning, field science, leadership, technology, and service learning. Prior to working in Arkansas, she worked in Washington, D.C., where she directed environmental education policy for the National Audubon Society and served as Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Education. She has worked as an administrator and teacher for over 23 years in Arkansas schools, served as director of Wilderness Writers at the Ozark Natural Science Center and developed Farmstead, an educational restoration of an 1897 home and farm. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in English, and a M.Ed. in Gifted and Talented Education. Ms. Smith can be reached at

Lauren Hawkins waits as Karen McSpadden of the Ozark Highlands Group of the Sierra Club checks the generous snack trays at the Audubon office

Please click on photos to enlarge.

Audubon Arkansas open house attracts area conservationists

Ken Smith, executive director of Audubon Arkansas (from left) listens to Dr. Stephan Pollard of the University of Arkansas while a friend talks with Lauren Hawkins, B.F.A. California College of the Arts, at the Northwest Arkansas Field Office of Audubon Arkansas in Fayetteville on December 11, 2007.

Audubon Arkansas open house Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007, features two men named Ken Smith

Please click on images to enlarge.

Top photo

Kenneth L. Smith, the son of Elton V. and Carol Gibbs Smith, grew up in Hot Springs. In 1952 he enrolled at the University of Arkansas, majoring in mechanical engineering. During his freshman year he joined a university hiking group; while participating in this group he developed a great love for the Buffalo River country of northwest Arkansas.

Graduating in 1956, he worked for a paper company in Crossett, Arkansas, as an engineer. In 1961 he left Arkansas to attend graduate school in California. But rather than completing his graduate degree he accepted a position with the National Park Service; he later received a master of science degree in Natural Resources Administration from the University of Michigan. During his twelve years in the service he worked as a civil engineer in western parks and as a park planner in Washington, D.C.. In 1974 he left the service and returned to Fayetteville, where he became a freelance writer, photographer, and researcher.

During his years outside of Arkansas he retained his ties with environmentalists in the state, including members of the Ozark Society. In 1967 the society published his first book, The Buffalo River Country. It also published his second book in 1977, Illinois River. Smith’s third book, Sawmill: The Story of Cutting the Last Great Virgin Forest East of the Rockies, published in 1986 by the University of Arkansas Press, received the Virginia K. Ledbetter Prize in 1988 for the best nonfiction work on Arkansas.

The Ozark Society was founded in 1962 in response to the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ plans to dam the Buffalo River in order to create the Gilbert Reservoir. In the mid-1960s the Ozark Society mounted a campaign against the building of the Water Valley Dam on the Eleven Point River in northeastern Arkansas. In the early 1970s plans to build the Gillham Dam on the Cossatot River in southwestern Arkansas prompted the Ozark Society to take action. Because of the actions of the Ozark Society, these rivers were saved, and in 1972 the Buffalo River became the first river to be given the status of National River in the United States’ national park system.

Thanks to the University of Arkansas Web site for this information.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE Kenneth L. Smith COLLECTION of papers at the University of Arkansas library.

This collection contains material concerning the preservation of the Buffalo, Cossatot, and Eleven Point rivers put forth by the Ozark Society, the Arkansas Conservation Council, the Arkansas Nature Conservancy, and the Federated Garden Clubs of Arkansas. Other material concerns the founding of the Ozark Society. Several items in the collection were created by Evangeline Archer, secretary of the Ozark Society in the 1960s. The material also includes various publications dating from the 1960s and early 1970s that discuss the Buffalo River. Finally, the collection includes several short narratives probably written by Ozark Society president Neil Compton detailing hiking and canoeing outings.

The material in the collection include sannouncements, statements, correspondence, newspapers and clippings, magazine articles, booklets, flyers, and maps.

The Kenneth L. Smith Papers were donated to the University of Arkansas Libraries by Kenneth L. Smith on September 25, 1994.

Processed by Todd E. Lewis, Special Collections Division, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, Arkansas, in August 2000.

Lower photo:
Left to right: Corey Holbert, Fayetteville Audubon staff member, Ken L. Smith, Kevin Pierson of LR office, Ken Smith of LR office, Dabney Brannon, Fayetteville office

Ken Smith, Executive Director of Arkansas Audubon (wearing blue shirt in lower photo)
Prior to joining Audubon in 2001, Mr. Smith served as Assistant Secretary for U.S. Fish Wildlife and Parks. Mr. Smith also served as Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton and Secretary Bruce Babbitt in the U.S. Department of the Interior. As Assistant Secretary, Mr. Smith was responsible for developing policy of the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. At the Interior Department, Mr. Smith was instrumental in establishing several new national wildlife refuges, one of which is the Pond Creek Bottoms National Wildlife Refuge in Southwest Arkansas. In 1997, Mr. Smith returned to Arkansas for a year where he served as Director of the Ozark Natural Science Center. From 1989 to 1993, Mr. Smith served Governors Bill Clinton and Jim Guy Tucker as Assistant for Natural and Cultural Resources. Earlier, Mr. Smith established the first office of the Nature Conservancy in Arkansas and served as Program Coordinator for the Natural Heritage Program. Mr. Smith holds a B.S. degree in Biology and Chemistry and an M.S. degree in Biology. He can be reached at

Some of the other Audubon staff members pictured can be found at

Audubon Arkansas staff page

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fayetteville lady sits under umbrella across street from bus stop on Dec. 11, 2007


The bus stop might have been under the awning of the Divinity Hotel with nice benches by now if so many long-time Fayetteville residents hadn't said NO to giant buildings downtown. On the other hand, the lot where the bus stop is now might have been a mega hole in the ground like a similar project a few blocks to the southeast.
The lady said she was just grateful for the rain after many dry weeks.

Zed Johnson walks his dog and both appear to enjoy the rain

PLEASE CLICK on Image to enlarge.

Walker Park Master Plan homework assignment

Walker Park Neighborhood Master Plan
Community Presentation
December 11
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

To all participants and stakeholders, We will hold the final community presentation for the Walker Park Neighborhood Master Plan on Tuesday, December 11. Please join us in celebrating the conclusion of this successful planning process and come hear about the ideas generated by the community and plans for implementation. The presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Fayetteville Senior Center.

Please visit the City Plan 2025 website to view the draft vision document and illustrative plan. Or download the documents from the links below.

Walker Park Neighborhood Master Plan - DRAFT (5.8MB PDF)

Walker Park Neighborhood Illustrative Plan (1.3MB PDF)

Contact Karen Minkel at 575-8271 with any questions.

Best, Karen Minkel

Karen Minkel
Senior Long Range Planner
City of Fayetteville
(479) 575-8271

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN to aubunique comments on a news story about the plan.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Petition against coal-fired power plant in Arkansas

Petition to Arkansas' governor

Don't miss Walker Park neighborhood summary of proposals Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007

The majority of people who live in the Walker Park neighborhood didn't attend the charrettes (the intense design and planning meetings the city's planning staff worked so hard to coordinate).
That is a shame. Probably, a majority don't know what occurred in the meetings. The few who attended offered a lot of suggestions and maybe some of their ideas will begin to become reality.

Their ideas are mostly good, although some would be incredibly expensive to turn into reality and even the best will take time and money to take shape.

Some ideas are bad ideas from the point of view of many.

Strangely, some ideas that go against the city's newly adopted sustainability effort are based on FEAR. And that is sad and disappointing to at least a few of us who truly love and appreciate the park and the surrounding neighborhood and the relatively inexpensive services provided in the area.

I'll leave it to others to explain what might be the source of fear in the discussion of possible future plans. Let's sample a few excerpts and comment, preferably after you read the full newspaper story.
The full story in the Northwest Arkansas Times of Monday, Dec. 10, 2007, is available at:

Northwest Arkansas Times story
Let's sample a few excerpts and comment, preferably after you read the full newspaper story.
Walker Park, at 64 acres, is one of the largest in the city, excepting the parks associated with lakes. But there are sections that aren't used at all because of brush or people not feeling safe, said Karen Minkel, senior long-range planner.
COMMENT: "Brush" or understory vegetation as it is known when standing in conjunction with mature trees is extraordinarily important in our parks because it is being removed from private yards and, in much larger portions, from every new construction site in the city.
Removing vegetation is among the greatest threats to our climate. Vegetation breathes carbon dioxide and exhales oxygen.
Take a look at the Keeling chart at the following link and see just how radically the earth's atmosphere has changed in recent decades:
Carbon Caps Task Force blogspot

Giant coal-fired plants that produce electricity are among the worst causes. But anything that burns contributes to the problem as fire depends on oxygen and releases carbon into the air.
Song birds, especially the ones most people love to see and feed, cannot live without nesting sites. And understory vegetation (brush and low-growing trees and vines) provides nesting and roosting sites for them. Thickets not easily entered by human beings are best. But any patch of brush is important. And those same plants offer food not only to birds but to numerous other species as well.
If you attend Tuesday's (Dec. 11, 2007) open house at the Arkansas Audubon office near Fayetteville's downtown square, ask to see one of their backyard wildlife brochures. I hope they have plenty to give away. But a quick read will offer tips not only for individuals but even for people talking about managing parks.
Walker Park has a magnificent stand of hardwood timber on its eastern acreage. Whether I choose to stop and walk through those woods are not, I USE them every day when I drive by.
Trees, brush, flowering plants and tall grass comfort me in our rapidly changing town. There was a time when Walker Park's wooded area and its riparian zone (streamside greenspace) offered unmitigated comfort, because I believed it would never change.
For several years, changes have slowly come. New parking lots have taken out trees and even the very soil on which they depended. The wonderful Senior Activity Center replaced a beautiful portion. The park for skateboarding and such buried a lot of wonderful soil and grass under pavement.
The paved "trail" along the west side was built in the riparian zone of Spout Spring Branch, which brings water from as far away as the east side of Fayetteville High School's campus to Maple and Lafayette and Dickson streets and the square all the way up to N. College Avenue through its tributary known as Tanglewood Branch in addition to its own water from the western and southwestern slopes of Mount Sequoyah and the beloved Spout Spring near Center Street.
Fayetteville's City Council recently passed a resolution supporting the protection of riparian zones, so surely the trail planners will work to see that soil won't be removed or buried under red dirt and asphalt or trees and "brush" removed from riparian areas as future trail routes are selected. A treeless trail isn't pleasant to use in summer or winter. Well-vegetated stream corridors offer not only shade in summer but serve as shelter belts to weaken the wind in winter. And paving done near stream banks inevitably results in increased erosion.

The Times story continues: The proposal would add paved and nature trails in the northeast quadrant, which would open the park to people who live north of Sixth Street and make it more usable and connected to the neighborhood and the city.
COMMENT: The theory is good and can be carried out without damaging the forest and contributing to global warming by creating paths without any addition of impermeable material. There is nothing about many miles of the city's "trails" that attract people wanting a nature walk. One can pass along the edge of the wooded area and feel "safe" at Sixth and at Thirteenth Streets. And near the halfway mark, there is a wide, meandering paved trail from the publicly accessible Senior Center acreage facing S. College and westward to the open areas of the park.
A small entryway at the northwest corner of Walker Park would be nice, but a sign and a gently blazed trail should be the route into the park's only natural portion. That would be in keeping with our sustainability goals and keep the aborbent soil to help meet the stormwater-regulation goals.
The Times story continues: Adding lighting and benches to the trail along the creek (Spout Spring Branch) and the park's western border, a children's play area with a water feature, and extending the Frisco Trail from downtown are other elements of the vision.
COMMENT: Unobtrusive benches would be nice. Lighting would be OK if solar powered lights are provided. The city already is gradually installing street lights and traffic-signal lights that use less electricity than the old ones did, I have heard. But, again, bright lights should not be placed in a way that interferes with the normal habits of wildlife in the area.
The Times story continues: "What we heard a lot was that people wanted to have more activity in the park, in that sometimes if they were on a trail and there wasn't a baseball game or something going on, they felt like they were by themselves," said Tim Conklin, the city's planning and development-management director. "If there's no one around, you don't have that sense of safety. If there's lots of people around, you feel safe and comfortable. We heard that from a lot of people."
In contrast, a lot of people go to parks and seek out places to be alone. Many park visitors are totally focused on themselves and their activity. Noise and activity of the birds and squirrels and such are plenty for them.
I play softball in Walker Park on many Sunday afternoons with others who enjoy an informal game with men, women and children participating in all seasons of the year. I sometimes play basketball at either the southeast corner of the park or the northwest corner and would like more courts because on many weekends and summer evenings people stand or sit and wait to play. At least one of the baseball fields should have deeper fences to accommodate those all-age softball games. I have fished in Spout Spring Branch and several times just waded the creek to photograph the trees, vines, rocks, birds and other wildlife.
Being an urban stream, of course, Spout Spring and its tributaries such as Tanglewood Branch are constantly polluted by street runoff and littered by debris. Audubon and the boy scouts and other volunteers haven't done a cleanup in about two years. Naturally, the next significant rain washes in so much new debris that evidence of the cleanups is always quickly wiped out.
One shocking photo opportunity I have not checked on lately is between South School Avenue and Walker Park where a large sewer line sags badly as it crosses Tanglewood Branch. Former Alderman Swifty Reynolds walked there with me to see it about three years ago. Maybe he reported it to the water and sewer officials and got it fixed. Maybe one day soon I'll go back to see it.
But back to the Times story:
Continuing Ninth and 13th streets to South School Avenue would create a western entrance to the park, connecting the neighborhood to the commercial district.
A narrow walking bridge would be appropriate somewhere outside the riparian zone of Tanglewood Branch starting somewhere near Ninth Street and South School Avenue.
But opening those streets shouldn't be in the plan. Construction of bridges for even the narrowest roadways always takes out a huge chunk of riparian vegetation. The streets would also take some acreage out of the soccer fields because it is unlikely that the new facility for skate boarding would be removed. And don't forget the beautiful, mostly wooded wetland on private property in back of the mostly commercial property facing South College Avenue.
It should not take more than one of the following to veto that part of the plan: the tree administrator, the watershed/stormwater engineer or the sustainability coordinator.
Fortunately, there are far too many real infrastructure needs at a time of revenue shortage for that idea to get priority.
There are many wonderful ideas in the plan and a few others that appear absurd or extremely disruptive to current residents and businesses.
I hope plenty of people show up, especially people who skipped the charrettes. It is not too late to offer more positive suggestions and to bring up questions about some already on the board.
The vision for the Walker Park neighborhood will be shared with the public from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Fayetteville Senior Center at 945 S. College Ave. There is plenty of room for several hundred people to attend for at least part of that time. And the planners WILL listen. It's everyone's plan.
By the way, the Audubon Arkansas' open house runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. with only a 30-minute overlap. There is no excuse not to do both. The Audubon office is at 34 East Center Street, less than a half block west of College Avenue and a block east of the square. The senior center is on South College only about the equivalent of 11 blocks south of the Audubon office.
As you travel between the too places, imagine what the construction work to make some of the proposals into reality would actually be like if you were a person living, working or traveling through the area each day.
The Fayetteville City Council meets in agenda session at 4:30 p.m. but you can watch the video of that on the government channel, Cox Cable 16, on Wednesday morning. The agenda should be online at to look at. I didn't have time to search for it tonight. Maybe it is on Jeff Erf's alternative city site.

Please attend Audubon Arkansas open house Dec. 11

Friday, December 7, 2007

Aspen Ridge's new owners approach park board Dec. 3, 2007

Copy and paste the following:

or click on the following link for an

UPDATE on Aspen Ridge Park dedication

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Old topographical map by US Geological survey of Town Branch neighborhood shows Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River

There is a bit of misinformation on the segment of the CAST system that describes the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River.

Historically, the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River is the stream that leaves the UA campus under Sixth Street with water draining much of the UA campus and the Fayetteville High School campus.

If you look at older USGS maps you will see the word Town on the portion of the stream running southeast between S. Ellis Ave. and S. Van Buren Ave.

At the time the stream was named, the UA campus was the extreme western edge of the "town" of Fayetteville. And there has been less dredging and filling of that portion, except at its confluence with a branch from the west, which is properly called the west arm of the Town Branch or even Wal-Mart Branch or I-540 Branch or Farmington Branch.

College Branch was the name given to the portion draining Markham Hill by city mappers in the 1990s and Mullins Creek was the name given since 2000 by the UA to the central part that runs from the ridge at Cleveland Street and under the the athletic facilities. Neither of these names should be applied to the part that flows under Sixth Street and the railroad and then through the Town Branch neighborhood.

The College Branch and the Mullins Creek join where they flow each from its on giant culvert from beneath Leroy Pond Street or Drive and through the old grounds of Carlson Terrace. That is where the combined flow should actually regain its historical name of Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River.

The Town Branch flows all the way to the West Fork. It is joined by the combined flow of the Cato Springs Branch and the west arm of the Town Branch near the Salvation Army Store south of 15th Street and west of School Avenue. From aerial photos one may recognize that the formerly meandering streams have been modified in recent decades. A lot of dredging was done on the west arm and the lower parts of the Cato Springs Branch. The straightening and widening makes the combined flow of those appear larger than that from the original Town Branch from the north.

But the mapmakers used the name Town Branch only for the parts of the stream that actually drained the town of Fayetteville. Names such as Tanglewood Branch and Spout Spring Branch now identify two tributaries that flow from the east of the UA to the Town Branch.

Another significant point is that the word "creek" is not properly added after the word "branch." The word "branch" is simply the name of a small stream that contributes to a larger stream, which in turn may be itself called a "creek" or "fork" or "bayou" or "river."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

National Wildlife Federation supports energy bill in Congress

PLEASE CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE mallards at Baum Stadium detention pond in Fayetteville, Arkansas

The 2007 Energy Bill has been one long and bumpy ride.It's down to this...
The final energy bill will be voted on in the House of Representatives THIS WEEK, followed by a Senate vote next week.
The U.S. House is voting THIS WEEK on a final energy bill.
Make sure your representative votes for wildlife and passes a strong bill!
With global warming threatening 30-40 percent of wildlife species, Congress MUST pass an energy bill in 2007 to lay the groundwork for strong global warming legislation in 2008 and beyond.
Let your representative know: "Americans need an Energy Bill with..."
Protections for wildlife and public lands from oil and gas development.
A Renewable Electricity Standard of at least 15 percent by 2020.
A fuel economy standard of at least 35 mpg by 2020.
We believe a bill with these three things can pass in the House and Senate, making a terrific down payment on an upcoming global warming bill!

Speak up today and help get the energy bill to the finish line:

ENERGY Finish line

Kristin Johnson
Grassroots Mobilization Coordinator
National Wildlife Federation
© 2007 National Wildlife Federation.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Suggested questions to be answered by planners

Everytime I watch the architectural-standards committee or the ordinance-review committee of the Fayetteville City Council on Government Channel 16, the same thoughts come up.

The committee members are not asking all the important questions while they have a chance. Maybe that is because the planners don't bring up all the important issues and developers and builders never mention them.

Some things I wish the developers and planners could tell us upfront and buyers and renters could be certain of before committing:

How long will this building or group of houses last?

Will they be there longer than buildings that had stood there before and were removed to make space for the new development?

Will they withstand a tornado or an earthquake? Will at least some fully contained rooms survive such a disaster?

Are they safe from flooding from adjacent property even if 10 times the recorded previous maximum rain should occur?

Are the various types of structural material resistant enough to fire to make sure no can ever die from smoke or flame in the buildings?

Are there adequate provisions being made for facilitating changes in technology regardless of whether new pipes, cables or wires, etc., will be needed 50 years in the future? Major renovation should not be required to in order to add features.

Are the buildings going to be easily adapted to the use of solar panels or harbor their own windmills for power production?

Are the buildings going to accomodate a green (vegetated) roof?

Are landscaping plans going to utilize raingardens and rain-retention containers to provide for pets and native plants?

Are site-preparation plans going to reduce removal or burying of existing soil and trees and vegetation?

Are whole developmentments going to be compatible with surrounding existing neighborhoods?

Are the setbacks going to be adequate to allow privacy and access?

After those questions are answered positively, then the superficial things can be discussed:

How will it look?
Will there be enough diversity in multi-unit developments to allow people to go straight home without a moment's hesitation?
The list of standard questions is already on record.

Here is a not-so-radical and certainly not new question that would require some changes in state law:

Can the bank finance future property tax as well as the annual property tax? While no firm figure can be determined, some sort of estimate of projected real-estate tax could be made on the assumption that a future-tax reserve fund could be maintained for all identities that currently benefit from property tax so that a person could pay his future tax while paying for the property. The potential interest on such a fund possibly would amount to more than the actual future tax growth because raising tax rates is always controversial and limited by law and the will of the people.
Under the current system, a person making payments on a standard mortgage can't lose his property to a tax lien. However, a person who has paid off his mortgage immediately is at risk of failing to pay and having a lien placed on his property. Those who pay cash should be required to pay into the same fund at the same rate but with a discount if they pay the total upfront. Such a system could eliminate the annual race by the moneyed class to take away property being auctioned for failure to pay property taxes, along with an expensive bureacratic nightmare.
Might be nice to actually own something outright for the rest of one's life and to be assured that heirs can't lose it for failure to pay taxes later.

Protecting the property in perpetuity might be impossible, but a 100-year term would be nice for the heirs, who might be much more interested in maintaining inherited property if it didn't also require an additional tax burden.

Keeling Curve plays big role in documenting cause of climate change

Consistent growth in CO2 pollution has been documented for fifty years by the

The Keeling Curve

TIMELINE: carbon monitoring

1957: Charles David Keeling starts work monitoring CO2 at the South Pole and Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii

1958: Keeling starts first direct continuous atmospheric measurements of CO2

Early 1970s: Noaa, the US federal agency, starts monitoring CO2 worldwide

1995-2003: Noaa's Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) at Boulder, Colorado, develops and maintains the world's standard references for CO2 and other greenhouse gases

For more information about the problem of CO2 increases and potential solutions, please visit Website of the
Carbon Caps Task Force at the following link:
Carbon Caps Task Force blogspot

Many items there will be submitted by members of the governor's commission on global warming, particularly by Robert McAfee and Art Hobson.