Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Leased riparian areas to be restored to protect Illinois watershed

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

State, Federal Government To Lease Land To Protect River

By Doug Thompson
ROGERS — More than 20 square miles of land along the Illinois River and its tributaries will be planted with trees, native grasses and other plants under a project launched Tuesday.

The program's goal is to stop 10,000 tons a year of pollutants and sediment from getting into the river, state and federal organizers said. The 15,000-acre, $30 million program will be the largest of its type in Arkansas, by far, said Randy Young, director of the state Natural Resources Commission.
"Northwest Arkansas, growing economic gem that it is, is also cognizant of the need to protect our natural resources," said Gov. Mike Beebe. The governor publicly thanked the Walton Family Foundation for a $1 million contribution to the project.

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program is voluntary, organizers said. Landowners can apply to sign 15-year contracts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their plots of land along the river and streams.

Cropland and poor quality pastures are sought under the $30 million project. Those lands will be planted with native plants to stem erosion and provide food and shelter to wildlife, organizers said. The contracts will pay an estimated average of $85 per acre annually with a starting bonus amounting to as much as $350 an acre.

"I'm very interested. I'd sign up today if the forms were here," said dairy farmer Bill Haak of Gentry. "This is very farmer friendly and, if you look at the details, you can see that the people who wrote this up have the insight into what will make it work."

"I have grandkids," Haak said when asked why he was interested. "You need another reason than that? Well, this is a chance for farmers to step up to the plate and help preserve water quality."

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is suing Arkansas poultry companies in federal court over pollution in the Illinois River. The case is scheduled for trial Sept. 21.

"We hope this project will help prevent pollution from reaching the waters of the Illinois and its tributaries and support these types of efforts in both states," Edmondson said in a prepared statement about Tuesday's announcement.

The conservation program in Arkansas will match up with a similar one in Oklahoma. The two programs will cover the entire Illinois River watershed, Young said.

Of the $30 million, $24 million will come from a federal appropriation sought and obtained largely through the efforts of 3rd District Rep. John Boozman, R-Rogers, organizers said. Most of the rest will come from a $1.5 million appropriation from the state and in-kind services provided by the state, such as planning for each plot's project by the state Game and Fish Department and other agencies and water quality monitoring by the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Contact Information
Watershed Leases

Those interested in the project can call the Washington County office of the federal Farm Service Agency, 479-521-4520, or the Benton County office, 479-273-2622. Information is also available at www.fsa.usda.gov.

Video from the Fayetteville National Cemetery with Washington County Livestock Auction barn in the background

Please go to
to see some of today's photos online. My picasa gigabite is full!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bridges of Arkansas get stimulus funding

Additional Interim Update‏
From: LINDSLEY SMITH (lindsleysmith@msn.com)
Sent: Mon 8/10/09 9:21 PM
Federal stimulus money will allow several more bridges in Arkansas to be replaced or significantly improved, including seven that have been described as functionally obsolete or structurally deficient, though not dangerous.
So far, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department has identified 14 more bridge projects that will receive federal stimulus money. That’s in addition to 43 other bridge contracts that had been let by the department through July, also using federal stimulus money to rebuild infrastructure and to save or create jobs.
Federal stimulus money also has been flowing to numerous school districts in the state for various projects. All told, the state is to receive about $3 billion in federal stimulus over the next year and a half.
Many contractors in the state have stated in media reports that they would have had to lay off hundreds of employees without the federally aided projects along Arkansas roads and on Arkansas bridges.
The 14 new projects are:
· The state Highway 9 bridge over Osage Creek in Benton County.
· Four bridges along state Highway 226 in Craighead County.
· Four bridges of I-430 in Little Rock, and two bridges along Pulaski County Road 67 over Leopard Creek.
· A bridge over Fourche Creek on Randolph County Road 48-East.
· A bridge along state Highway 22 over Big Vache Grasse in Sebastian County.
· A bridge on Sharp County Road 38 over Pine Creek.
Overall, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and the Highway Commission have awarded contracts totaling $115 million in federal stimulus money for 62 road and bridge projects. About $19 million of the work has been completed. Contracts haven’t yet been let on 49 projects totaling $304 million.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Carbon Caps Task Force meeting at 1:30 p.m. today at the OMNI Center office downstairs at 902 W. Maple

Sunday August 2
1:30 pm
Carbon Caps Task Force
Re-Organizing Meeting
OMNI office
United Campus Ministries 902 W. Maple (Maple Street & Storer Avenue)
Several interesting options for action are emerging. Come find out how you can plug in, because you are needed. And meet OMNI's new environmental organizer, Ryan Bancroft. And Robert McAfee will bring lemon cake. You don't want to miss this meeting.
Gladys Tiffany
Omni Center for Peace, Justice & Ecology
Fayetteville, Arkansas USA
479-973-9049 -- gladystiffany@yahoo.com