Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Stuck truck epitomizes the process of building the new trail through Pinnacle Prairie

Please click on images to go to Flickr photo site and use tool above each to enlarge for better view of truck stuck in soft fill dirt on Pinnacle Foods Inc.'s wet prairie, almost in the Soup Branch of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River (a tributary of Northwest Arkansas' main public water source, Beaver Lake). The workers were adding so-called topsoil to the mass of clay, gravel, assorted debris and red dirt already used to fill the land along the trail for the second time. The first layer of unnatural soil added to the edges of the 12-foot-wide trail paved to outmoded city standards washed away days after being applied during heavy rain a few weeks ago. Much of it may be found in the Town Branch, probably seen most easily by looking down from any Town Branch Bridge to the southeast or in the three box culverts under 15th Street about three blocks east of U.S. 71 B (aka South School Avenue.) The work is being done as a condition of approval by subcontractors trying to finish the already occupied Hill Place student apartments.
Despite advice to the contrary and repeated publication of photos of the careless trail work that has cost the riparian zones of city streams thousands of trees in recent years, put concrete and black top and red dirt and unnatural soil such as is shown here in the overflow area and flood plains, this latest example of lack of understanding of the watershed concerns is simply a continuation of the poorly conceived policies of the past eight years.
I failed to attend tonight's Fayetteville City Council meeting and tuned into Government Channel too late to hear discussion of the latest update of the trail plan. I fear it was passed without mention of such problems and no new requirements to protect the watershed or the very precious wildlife corridor along the streams. I hope I am wrong.
If we get rain this week and the new dirt washes away, will the city trail administrator tell the contractors to add a few more tons of silt to the site so that the state HIghway Department will have another many dump-truck loads to dredge out of the stream between HIl Place and Beaver Lake as AHTD workers did a few months ago?
Once again, the Hill Place/Aspen Ridge debacle proves the the Town Branch Neighborhood is the "poster child" of ill-begotten development.

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