Wednesday, March 31, 2010

John Bame and Fayetteville High School students look at old rail trestle and discarded rail ties blocking construction of city trail through old tunnel under existing Arkansas & Missouri Railroad

I might not have discovered this for some time had not John Bame brought some FHS students to World Peace Wetland Prairie and then taken them on a walk of the Pinnacle Prairie Trail and the part of Tsa-La-Gi Trail as yet uncompleted from the Hill Place Apartments through the old rail tunnel to the west to Razorback Road and beyond. Thanks to the environmentally aware students for caring and wanting to learn more about the delicate geography and geology of our city. Please click on image to enlarge view of railroad ties over mouth of tunnel and then watch video below the photo to learn reaction of workers when they learned that the ties should not be dumped there.
Rail ties being dumped in mouth of tunnel in Fayetteville AR Aubrey james | MySpace Video The Fayetteville city trail administrator telephoned the railroad manager in Springdale an hour later and the railroad official confirmed that the ties were not to be dumped there but were to be dumped at Cato Springs Road. Rail ties are creosoted and very dangerous to human beings and other living things when the chemicals leach into the watershed.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Audubon magazine says plant milkweed for monarchs or they may disappear

Audubon Magazine online Please click on image to ENLARGE for easier reading. If that isn't big enough, please use the zoom function on your tool bar to ENLARGE further.
Image below is the front of a poster included in the most recent March-April 2010 issue of the Audubon magazine. The back of the poster is displayed above. The poster is worth the price of a year's membership in the National Audubon Society.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Restore clean-water act to original strength Now!

Please double-click "view as webpage" link near top right to see full post.

RiverAlert Header
March 22, 2010
keep our nation's waters are protected under the Clean Water Act
Take Action 
Dear Aubrey,
If you think the Clean Water Act protects your drinking water from pollution, think again. Please take action today to ensure fundamental safeguards for clean water in our streams, rivers, and lakes.
A confusing 2006 Supreme Court decision on the Clean Water Act has left the fate of 60 percent of the nation’s stream miles -– that provide drinking water for 117 million Americans –- in legal limbo. As a result, as reported in The New York Times, polluters are now claiming complete exemptions from reporting what they dump into local streams.
Congress can resolve this problem by passing legislation to restore full federal protection for all our waters. Help us ensure that all of our nation’s waters are protected under the Clean Water Act. Urge your representative to support introducing and passing the Clean Water Restoration Act today.
Thank you for your support.
Katherine Baer Signature
Katherine Baer
Senior Director, Clean Water Program

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I would like to express grave concern over the loss of protection for many of our small streams that provide clean drinking water for 117 million Americans in communities across the country. Supreme Court decisions in the Rapanos and Carabell cases have made it confusing and burdensome for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect small streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.

As a result, enforcement actions against polluters have declined sharply the EPA estimates that over 1,000 cases have been shelved or dropped altogether. More recently it has become clear that some polluters are using the decisions as a justification to avoid any permitting and reporting requirements for discharging pollutants into our waters.

For the Clean Water Act to fulfill its goal of restoring the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters, all waters must receive protection corresponding with Congress' original intent when passing this landmark law. Upstream waters must be protected from pollution and destruction if we expect downstream waters to be fit for swimming, drinking, and fish and wildlife, and downstream communities to be safe from flooding.

I urge you to act in the interest of preserving clean water for healthy communities and wildlife. Please support introduction and passage of the Clean Water Restoration Act, which would clarify the definition of waters to eliminate uncertainty and ensure clean water in accordance with the goals of the Clean Water Act.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Joe Neal shares his thoughts as a snowstorm slows waterfowl migrating north through the Ozarks

Geology I enjoy involves what we see & how it got that way, a distant past imagined. Massive roadcuts through once scenic mountains become opportunities to study the earth’s ancient history, rock layer after exposed rock layer. 

On March 20, 2010, I’m thinking about this & migrating ducks, at the edge of a pond, in a cold rain with some sleet mixed & big snow promised, behind Walmart near I-540 in Benton County. I saw ducks on the pond while driving. I finally figured out how to get near them. Now, crouching under a golf umbrella, with cover provided by last year’s blackberry thicket, I have views of Canada Goose (2), Wood Duck (3), Gadwall (4), Mallard (2), Blue-winged Teal (8), Northern Shoveler (30), Green-winged Teal (5), Bufflehead (2), Pied-billed Grebe (5), American Coot (4), and 16 Ring-billed Gulls; in short, a small pond big with ducks & water birds. 

These migrants are held up in their northward journey by a storm. I’m old enough to remember a past with celebrations of the vernal equinox here in the Ozarks of western Arkansas featuring snow up to the blooming daffodils. Now we have another. Today my yard is a white plain polka dotted by yellow trumpets.

In honor of this spring gift, I’m trying an angle novel for me on duck migration. Instead of endless Jeremiads of frustration against “growth” & “development” & the destruction of all nature straight & true, I’m determined to think like a geologist: imagine the way it was and see how we can go forward.

Back before our kind began our plunder in the 1820s, Blue-winged Teal had fewer choices to rest & loaf as they headed north through here. There were no true ponds & no lakes. Our grasslands in the western Arkansas Ozarks did have extensive low areas whose clay-rich soils held water. So around the vernal equinox, when came big rains & occasional deep wet snow, these low fields held scattered shallow pools of water, forming playas. Here’s where teal & their brethren weathered a spring storm.

In cold & sleet out behind Walmart & 540, I’m imagining how our landscape serves migrating teal, even as we plunder on. For northwest Arkansas, we could include the shallows of Lake Fayetteville & many other area lakes, older farm ponds midst open grasslands, the concentration of 16 fish ponds at the state hatchery in Centerton – all that sort of thing. Shallow pools created at Woolsey Wet Prairie in Fayetteville have been much favored by teal. The success of Woolsey – a project funded as mitigation for wetland loss – has spurred interest elsewhere in northwest Arkansas, as more natural habitat is lost to “growth” & “development” & planners seek opportunities to mitigate the ongoing habitat plunder.

These are some thoughts for the vernal equinox. As in the much distant past, there are Blue-winged Teal passing through western Arkansas and, thank goodness, many places to view them. A big old farm pond behind Walmart is not as romantic as a rain & snow filled playa, but the real teal are out there, resplendent in spring plumage, indomitable in their quest for the future.

Friday, March 12, 2010

World Peace Wetland Prairie spider milkweed, false indigo bush, dogbane, blue-eyed grass and cottontail rabbit photographed on May 21, 2009

Please click on individual images to ENLARGE view of a sample of what you won't see on Earthday at World Peace Wetland Prairie but may see again if you visit in May. Native wildflowers and tall grass emerge later than the typical nonnative species found in many gardens in Arkansas.
Photo above reveals view northwest with Amorpha fructicosa bush in bloom. Also known as false indigo or indigo bush on May 21, 2009, at World Peace Wetland Prairie. Cottontail rabbit reluctant to leave his grazing area and hoping photographer will back away on May 21, 2009, at World Peace Wetland Prairie.
In photo above, the tiny blue-eyed grass is seen growing near a tall dogbane or Indian Hemp plant.
Above, Asclepias viridis, also known as spider milkweed or antelope horns, is nearing full bloom. Viridis is the earliest of the milkweeds to bloom in Northwest Arkansas. Above is an instance of a tall dogbane or Indian hemp plant with a shorter spider milkweed at right. Dogbane seems always to pop out of the ground before the milkweed and the leaves of the two are similar. Both are plentiful at World Peace Wetland Prairie. For more photos of wildflowers at WPWP, please see WPWP wildflowers

Friday, March 5, 2010

KUAF on Sunday is to air report on February woodcock outing

Joe Neal reports: 
I received the message below from Jacqueline Froelich at KUAF. She went out on our NWAAS woodcock field trip February 20:

"My story on the American Woodcock dance party will air Sunday March 7th on our weekend news magazine, "Ozarks At Large" at 9am. I will post the story on our website on Sunday at thanks very much for allowing me to tag along with the bird enthusiasts!! I really enjoyed it. And learned a great deal!"
The Listen Live button is the place to go at 9 a.m. Sunday. The top link may also work at that time but it is the archive where the show will appear later if you miss it live.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hawk surveys Pinnacle Wet Prairie for prey on sunny day

Walking Pinnacle Prairie Trail at the end of Twelveth Street southwest of World Peace Prairie offers wildlife views. Please click on images to ENLARGE view of hawk on March 4, 2010,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

72 Hours for American Clean Energy!
Call Your Senators Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday

Dear Aubrey,

Urge your U.S. Senators to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation now.

Rising sea levels. Stronger storms. Melting ice caps. Less wildlife. Birds shifting their ranges — if they can.

This doesn't have to be our future — or our legacy.

With leadership from the Senate, we can change our future. Please join with millions of Americans and call your Senators today. Our planet is in peril and we need the Senate to act on passing comprehensive clean energy and climate change legislation this year.

Please call your Senators now. We want to make sure the Senate understands the urgency to get moving on climate legislation NOW. It will only take a few moments and every call is important. Every call will make our point loud and clear.

Today, we are joining with dozens of organizations representing millions of Americans, calling on the U.S. Senate to pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. We can't let special interests and a few Senators who want to stop this bill sink our chances for a better future for our children and the wildlife we speak for.

Take action with our step by step instructions and simple message. These measures will help create jobs, get us off foreign oil and secure our nation and our future. Tell your Senators you want comprehensive energy and climate change legislation now.

Do you know someone else who cares about protecting our future? Help us to spread the word:

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Owl slide show March 7 and Shores Lake field trip March 27 highlights of the month

The next Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society field trip is on Saturday March 27, 2010. This is an outstanding opportunity to go birding in mature shortleaf pine habitat (and also mature hardwoods) in the Shores Lake area of Ozark National Forest. It is also a unique opportunity to go with trip leader Bill Beall, veteran birder from Ft Smith who had studied birds in western Arkansas for many decades. We will be seeking Brown-headed Nuthatches and other birds typical of pine forests. The Shores Lake area is one of the few spots in the Ozarks where these nuthatches still occur, but finding them is not assured. Meet at 9 AM at the Shores Lake picnic area entrance on the west side of the lake. You can show up earlier if you wish! We may try to do some car pooling from Fayetteville if anyone is interested. Shores Lake is just north of Mulberry. For more information, contact me at 479-521-1858.