Monday, April 28, 2008

Dumetella carolinensis near willow tree on wetland at Advance Auto Parts' construction site

Please click on image to ENLARGE photo of gray catbird near big willow tree on Advance Auto Parts Wetland.

Click Image to enlarge photo of bend where avenue turns east to become a block of West Ninth Street south of Tire Tracks.

Water soaks in on this wetland site. It is a natural rain garden. The more of the soil and vegetation preserved, the less runoff to the Spout Spring Branch will increase. Unfortunately, an auto-part store will require a significant amount of paved parking. It would be a good place to use so-called "grass-paving" methods. Even if the city Planning Commission doesn't require such design, it isn't too late for the developers to voluntarily make the move. Sorry I didn't attend the meetings and find out exactly how the stormwater on the site will be managed. So many projects, so little time.
Currently, the ditch running along the east side of the lot still has a bit of vegetation to slow the flow but it is a straight ditch that replaced a meandering branch and has been washed out a lot this winter and spring. Water flows from the north and joins Spout Spring Branch near the center western edge of Walker Park. New construction on a former wetland site just north of the Walgreen store has increased the speed of runoff down a part of that ditch (also known as a grassy swale) that has been piped underground, moving it to the area behind the new part store more rapidly.

Years ago when the area was developed, there were no environmental regulations to prevent dredging and filling such wetland. Today, there are excellent rules. However, the difference between the way people built houses and businesses ONLY on the high ground back then and the way they now replace the moist soil with rocky material dug out of area mountains may have more to do with the availability of giant earth-moving machinery and overpopulation and the desire to maximize profit than with the existence of rules that acknowledge the importance of wetland. Exemptions and exceptions and "mitigation" allow things the people who wrote the rules were trying to prevent.

Maybe the old-timers would have drained, dredged and filled if their machinery hadn't been limited to what a mule could pull or how much a strong man could shovel in a day. Fayetteville has its pockets of wetland available to destroy now because it was impractical to destroy wetland then.

I don't think anyone spoke against this relatively large-scale development when it went to the planning commission. But many people are shocked when they learn that the houses, particularly the native-stone house, are to be razed.

And now there will be three auto-part stores within a few blocks between Fourth Street at Archibald Yell and Ninth Street along the U.S. 71 B route. Will the competition keep part prices from rising?

What is certain is that filling and paving wetland inevitably leads to the water rising downstream.

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