Monday, February 29, 2016

Spring peeper provide a treasured symphony to outdoorsmen in spring.

Spring Peeper

Scientific Name: Pseudacris crucifer
Spring Peeper
Description: Spring peepers are small tree frogs. They are shades of tan, brown, green or gray, with smooth skin, lines that form an X on their backs and a white to cream-colored belly. They are well camouflaged to look like tree bark and have some ability to make themselves lighter or darker in color to better match their surroundings. They have dark bands on their legs and a dark line between their eyes. The flat, terminal pad on each toe allows them to grip onto plants, while their webbed hind feet supply support. Although they are good climbers, they spend most of their time on the ground. They often hide during the day under leaf litter and come out to feed in the afternoon and evening. They are rarely seen, but during mating season in the spring they are often heard. Their high-pitched, loud and piercing call can be deafening to humans when they congregate.
Size: They are generally 1 to 1.5 inches in length, about the length of a paper clip. Their weight will average from 0.11 to 0.18 ounces.
Diet: The adults generally eat beetles, ants, flies and spiders. Tadpoles feed on algae, detritus and microorganisms.
Predation: Snakes, salamanders, large carnivorous insects, raptors and other birds prey on adult spring peepers. Tadpoles are eaten by aquatic invertebrates and salamander larvae.
Typical Lifespan: Spring peepers are said to have short lives, living three to four years at most.
Habitat: They live in moist wooded areas, fields and grassy lowlands near ponds and wetlands. They mate and lay their eggs in vernal pools, ponds and other wetlands without fish.
Range: Spring peepers can be found from southeastern Canada throughout the eastern United States, south to northern Florida and west to Minnesota and eastern Texas.
Life History and Reproduction: Spring peepers hibernate during the winter in soft mud near ponds, under logs and in holes or loose bark in trees. They begin breeding early in the spring. Males congregate primarily near vernal pools and ponds and start singing to attract a mate. The faster and louder they sing, the greater the chances of attracting a mate. Females lay anywhere from 750-1,200 eggs attached to submerged aquatic vegetation. Males fertilize the eggs as they are laid. Depending on the temperature, eggs can hatch within two days to two weeks. The tadpoles have gills to breathe underwater and tails to help them swim. The tadpoles metamorphose into frogs over the course of six to twelve weeks.
Communication: Spring peepers are known for the males’ mating calls—a high-pitched whistling or peeping sound repeated about twenty times a minute. They often sing in trios, with the deepest-voiced frog starting the call. They call on warm spring nights and during the day during rainy or cloudy weather.
Fun Fact: They are very tolerant of cold conditions. Spring peepers can withstand freezing during winter hibernation due to a natural ‘antifreeze’ in their blood.
Conservation Status: Spring peepers are common and widespread. However, loss of wetland habitat does pose a threat. Populations are decreasing in some areas.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

2008 article by Joe Neal documents value of seasonal wetland west of 112 drive-n


Joe Neal offers strict view of reasons not to reroute Arkasnas 112 through Hoskins' wetland

To all --

I have stated repeatedly and to anyone who listens that the widespread
lower elevation fields in that entire area are "seasonal wetlands,"
whether or not they meet the Corps of Engineer standards. Therefore, I
am opposed to their development. Every development in such habitats
has a clear, negative and measurable impact on the environment. From
an administrative view, they further burden the upper Clabber Creek
watershed. I know that, in these opinions, I am an unreasonable
person. But the truth is the truth, and I have not spent my adult life
as a biologist to ignore my training & experience in order to just get

"For the record," and especially for anyone who cares at this point, I
cannot visualize any compelling public interest for the
relocation/straightening of 112. The City of Fayetteville has in
recent years wisely adopted a clear and far-sighted policy of passive
speed controls on streets used for "cut throughs" and other
opportunities to accelerate traffic speed. The amount of money saved
in law enforcement probably can't be accurately measured; the safety
achieved by such reductions also are hard to measure; however, both
are hard realities. The historical bends in 112 nicely fits and
supports this passive policy. It is not in the interest of the
citizens of Fayetteville to accelerate traffic speeds on 112,
especially since Fayetteville and Tontitown the max allowed speed is
45 MPH now. I understand why such changes might be of benefit to the
developers in that area, but the changes would not be in the general
public interest. -Joe

JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas. "Nature is already as good
as it possibly can be. He who seeks to improve it will spoil it. He
who tries to direct it will mislead it and become lost himself." --
Chinese philosopher about 2,500 years ago

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War over rezoning of land west of 112 drive-in continues as rezoning proposed by city staff


Bruce Shackleford offers view of inadvisability of rerouting Arkansas 112 across Hoskins' wetland

I am not sure about all of the particulars of property lines associated with the proposed 112 reroute, nor have I ever seen the proposed alignment of the 112 reroute, but I do know that the majority of the property near Clabber Creek between Highway 112 and Dean Solomon Road is existing and/or former wetland prairie. The distance between 112 and Dean Solomon is approximately 3,300 linear feet.

One of our WSIP sewer lines extends along the north side of Clabber Creek in this area and borders the southern edge of the Park West property. Prairies/wetlands are not the only concerns/considerations in the decision-making process for the 112 reroute. There are other matters to think about, that may create potential liabilities for the City when entering a "cost-share" agreement for this project, as described below:

1) There are two spring runs in the vicinity of (or perhaps within) the Park West boundaries. One is approximately 975 linear feet west of 112, and the other is approximately 2,325 linear feet west of 112. These two spring runs function ecologically much the same as the Wilson Springs runs, and provide seasonal habitat for the Arkansas darter, as shown by a survey conducted by USFWS several years ago. Impacts to darter habitat have been controversial for the City in the past. Will the proposed 112 reroute have a permanent adverse impact to darter habitat and stir this pot again?

For those who are not aware, the Arkansas darter (Etheostoma cragini) is a small fish (2 to 3 inches long) that inhabits the upper reaches of Clabber Creek. It has been designated as an Arkansas Species of Concern by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, listed as a fish of Special Concern by the American Fisheries Society and is a Candidate Species for federal listing as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

One of our sewer lines crossed these two spring runs and one of the wetlands. I wrote the specifications whereby the contractor was required to cross these spring runs during June through December when we knew the darter would not be there. During this time of the year, the darter stays within the immediate vicinity of the springs, including Wilson Springs, and the springs on the north side of Clabber Creek. Studies have shown that it migrates down the spring runs at times between January and May to spawn in Clabber Creek. Has the 112 reroute considered such self-imposed seasonal construction periods as we did on the WSIP, and is this practicable for a highway project?

2) There are jurisdictional wetlands throughout the area between 112 and Dean Solomon, including the Park West property. In fact, I have seen the 404 permit that requires compensatory wetland mitigation for the Park West development. For sewer lines, we do the design whereby wetlands are restored and put back to pre-construction conditions. This is achievable because the sewer lines are underground. This is not so easy to do for permanent surface structures, such as a highway.

Obviously, a highway project that spans jurisdictional wetlands will necessitate wetland compensatory mitigation. Will the 112 reroute involve permanent alterations to wetlands? If so, where will the mitigation site be located? Who will pay for the design, construction, and long-term monitoring of the wetland mitigation and the 404 permit application process? With the City paying for a portion of the project, the City will likely be required to be a co-permittee with Park West for the 404 permit issued by the Corps. If the mitigation does not comply with 404 permit requirements, is the City aware that they may be liable for enforcement action/monitory penalties and/or corrective actions? What controls will the City have during construction to assure 404 permit requirements will be met?

3) The ADEQ stormwater permit for construction activities (ARR150000) will be required for the 112 reroute. Due to changes in Reg 6 three years ago, ADEQ no longer allows contractors to be stormwater permittees. It is ADEQ's policy that the party(ies) with ultimate financial control of a regulated project shall be the permittee(s) who are responsible for compliance. If ADEQ makes the City a joint stormwater permittee with Park West, how much construction management control will the City have? Has the City explored the possibility that as a co-permittee they may be liable for enforcement action/monitory penalties and/or corrective actions if the project is not managed to be in compliance with stormwater permit requirements?

The involvement of a third party (i.e. contractor) further complicates matters. Speaking from experience, it is always a challenge to make the contractor do what they are supposed to do to keep the permittee from having violations. If this is not addressed from the beginning within the contract documents, then the permittee has little leverage to make the contractor follow regulatory requirements. When the permittee tries to do so after the fact, there will always be change orders that add to the cost of the project.

What control will the City have over the environmental specification language within the contract documents to hold the contractor's feet to the fire for this type of work within such an environmentally sensitive area?

It is always more efficient and cost-effective to avoid going into the "damage control mode" by staying in the "problem prevention mode".

Just some food for thought that I wanted to bring to the table.........


Bruce Shackleford, M.S., REM, REPA
President, Environmental Consulting Operations, Inc.
17724 I-30, Suite 5A
Benton, Arkansas 72019
"Integrating ECOnomy and ECOlogy, since 1990"
office: 501-315-9009
mobile: 501-765-9009

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Seven-year-old story from March 2, 2008, NWA Times features varied opinion on use of wetland west of Arkansas 112 Drive-in

Developer proposes change to Arkansas 112 roadway
BY MARSHA L. MELNICHAK Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Sunday, March 2, 2008

Rerouting Arkansas 112 on the west side of Fayetteville may be a good solution as far as traffic flow, but city and state officials are wondering what that solution would cost.
Some city residents are also concerned about the environmental cost.
Park West developer Tracy Hoskins of Paradigm Companies is sending up a test balloon. He wants to know if city officials are interested in rerouting Arkansas 112 west of Interstate 540. He said the proposal will cost the city less overall than fixing the existing highway and that he has met or exceeded environmental requirements.
"We specifically designed the route to avoid every single solitary environmentally sensitive feature," he said.
The alignment he proposes would cut across Park West, a 106-acre development approved by the city in 2006.
Beginning at the bridge over Clabber Creek just north of Sam's Wholesale Club and sweeping northwest for about a mile, it would connect into the existing Arkansas 112 at the northwest corner of the Belclaire Subdivision. (Heading southbound, from the north, this is the first curve coming into Fayetteville on Arkansas 112. )
"We're just improving dangerous conditions," Jim Ramsey, architect for Paradigm Companies, said.
He said the proposal would remove two 90-degree turns: one dangerous intersection of Deane Solomon Road and the east-west portion of Arkansas 112 and the other at the 90-degree corner of Arkansas 112 and Howard Nickell Road.
"Anybody who's driven out there knows just how dangerous that is," Ramsey said. Hoskins also argues that the change offers an economic development advantage to the city because of the possibility of more commercial development on both sides of the new roadway. The developer presented his proposal at a Ward 4 meeting and again at a city Street Committee meeting last week.
Is it worth it ? Lioneld Jordan, Ward 4 Alderman and chairman of the city Street Committee, brought discussion to a quick halt after learning no cost estimates were available for committee consideration.
"It's worth looking at again," he said but not until there are numbers to go with the proposal.
Jordan and other committee members asked city staff to bring cost estimates to the next Street Committee meeting in about a month.
"I think it looks like a viable solution as far as traffic flow. I just want to really compare the cost," Ward 1 Alderman and Street Committee member Brenda Thiel said.
"I think it's certainly something we ought to look at. We need to look at, if it's going to cost us a lot more, is it really worth it ? "she said.
Gary Dumas, director of operations, said city engineers will come up with a preliminary estimate for the Street Committee's next meeting.
"The issue is going to be how to pay for it," he said.
Jonathan Barnett, chairman of the Arkansas Highway Commission, too, saw a safety value and a cost question.
"It looks like a good proposal, and it certainly has merit," he said. "I think we're all trying to figure out how we're going to pay for it, but it's definitely a good proposal."
Barnett said he thought it looked good because "it straightens out a couple curves "and would widen the road.
He also thought it would help the city.
"Hopefully, they're looking at some potential development out that way - maybe a school system, maybe some other things - and obviously that would be good for the city of Fayetteville as economic development," he said.
$ 4 million Dumas estimated the city has about $ 4 million programmed for future improvements on Arkansas 112 from north of I-540 to Van Asche Drive. He anticipates the proposed roadway would cost more because it is longer and wider. "I think it's definitely more, but we don't know what that number is," Dumas said. But, Hoskins argues that the $ 4 million is slated only for the section of Arkansas 112 between Sam's Wholesale Club and the first 90-degree corner at Van Asche. In future stages of the bond program, there will be several million dollars more that will need to be spent from the corner at Van Asche east to Arkansas 112 at Howard Nickell Road.
"If they keep (Arkansas ) 112 as it is, 100 percent of the cost will be borne by the taxpayers of Fayetteville, where, in my proposal, it would be a public-private partnership.
"Probably, in the long run, not only is this a much better idea, it promotes economic growth, it costs the taxpayers considerably less money and it will be done sooner," he said.
Environmental costs Not everyone agrees. Aubrey Shepherd, a Fayetteville resident, said Hoskins should give the property to the state or to some conservation entity rather than build anything on it. "This is land of a quality that should not be paved over or developed over," he said. "I'm very much against the road. "Joe Neal describes himself as a biologist and a longtime crusader for seasonal wetlands. "It (the Arkansas 112 proposal ) makes engineering sense if you already buy into the idea that the seasonal wetlands are disposable," he wrote in an email after seeing a drawing of the proposal.
In an earlier tour of the land, Neal told Hoskins none of the property should be developed.
"Every bit of it is seasonal wetlands - every bit of it except the upland portion by Deane Solomon," Neal said, admitting that his idea of no development is pretty unrealistic. "Every bit of it you can save is good."
Dot Neely of the Ozark Headwaters Group of the Sierra Club said paving the area could cause changes in stream flow and other hydrological changes.
However, she said that to be realistic, growth is inevitable.
"The best thing to do is to do nothing and walk away from the site and to donate it as a wetland prairie area for educational purposes. But, if the powers that be are going to insist on making changes out there, that it is done with the utmost sensitivity," she said.
Getting advice from environmental experts and following it would be important.
"The question becomes how to minimize the impact while making it economically viable and still protected," Neely said.
Hoskins said he is being sensitive to the environment.
"We have already delineated the wetlands, and we have Corps of Engineers approval," he said.
The proposed road crosses a drainage area for the pond on the property to the north of Park West at a position previously approved by the Corps of Engineers for an earlier Park West design.
He said the "bottom" (or south side ) of the site, which is just above the Audubon Arkansas wetlands will be used for parks, bioswales, rain gardens and walking trails.
"Contrar y to popular opinion, the only perennial wetlands on site are at the far southeast corner of the site. They lie between the previously described ditch and the existing (Arkansas ) 112 along the south property line," he said.
Letters from state and federal agencies support his statements.
A March 18, 2005, letter from the United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, states," This ditch does not support an Arkansas darter population. "It defines, among other factors, where springs arise, what buffers must be incorporated into design and what management practices, such as silt fences, will be necessary.
"This protection, enhancement and construction of wetlands and buffer zones will not only minimize threats to the Arkansas darter and water quality but should increase the aesthetic values of the project area," the Fish and Wildlife letter states.
Hoskins also has a permit to discharge stormwater from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and a permit from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers for Park West property.
Jordan said he has concerns about the environmentally sensitive nature of the property.
"I want to be sure that ever ything is just so-so because that's been a pretty controversial piece of property up in there," he said. "At face value, it could be OK, but I want to be very careful. I want to be sure we're not getting into any wetlands, just to be sure."

"We have to all come together. Quality of life has to be factored into the economics of growth," Neely said.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Legislative action to reduce watershed protection

Stricken language would be deleted from and underlined language would be added to present law.
SECTION 1. Arkansas Code Title 14, Chapter 1, is amended to add an additional subchapter to read as follows:
Subchapter 4 - Landowner Tree Maintenance Protection Act
      14-1-401.  Title.
This subchapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Landowner Tree Maintenance Protection Act".
      14-1-402.  Findings and legislative intent.
(a) The General Assembly finds that the right to own, use, and enjoy private property:
            (1)  Is protected by the Arkansas Constitution and the United
States Constitution;
(2) Is a hallmark of Arkansas and American society, deeply
*DLP112* 02-26-2015 12:52:16 DLP112

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
embedded in the fabric of both urban and rural societies; and
(3) Should be protected from undue interference by state and

local government.
(b) It is the intent of the General Assembly by this act to preserve

and protect the property rights of citizens by ensuring that state, county, and local government does not prohibit a landowner from cutting down, trimming, or removing the landowner's trees, bushes, or shrubs.
      14-1-403.  Definitions.
      As used in this subchapter:
            (1)  "Landowner" means:
                  (A)  An individual who owns real property; and
                  (B)  The authorized agents of an individual who owns real
property; and
(2) "Tree Maintenance" means cutting down, trimming, or removing

a tree, bush, or shrub.
14-1-404. County and municipal ordinances restricting tree maintenance prohibited Exceptions.
(a) A county, city, or town shall not restrict by ordinance or otherwise the right of a landowner to perform tree maintenance on the landowner's property.
(b) Subsection (a) of this section does not permit a landowner to perform tree maintenance on the landowner's property if the tree maintenance on the landowner's property would violate:
(1) A real property covenant or deed restriction;
(2) A bill of assurance; or
(3) A requirement or restriction imposed by a homeowner's

association, a property owner's association, or a similar organization whether imposed by a duly recorded master deed and bylaws or otherwise.
      14-1-405.  Conflicting ordinances repealed.
      An ordinance of a county, city, or town that conflicts with this
subchapter is repealed to the extent of the conflict.
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