Happy Anniversary!

It’s hard to believe, but it has been 5 years since the completion of Phase II of the Archey Fork restoration project! It is time to deliver some updates on both this project and others we are doing in the Greers Ferry Lake watershed.

Our last entry detailed some of the flooding that occurred at the park. We are happy to report that the washed-out sidewalk has been repaired and people are using it, walking along the project site every day. Floods are still coming, and the site is holding up well!

If you walk along the trail, you might see that the willows, sycamores, and river birch are getting well established and doing their job to keep the streambanks stable and in place. We could not be more pleased with the way the project has turned out. What about you? We are eager to hear your comments.

As we head into the spring and summer months, we are looking forward to seeing everyone who is utilizing the river and the park, as well as the return of green, signaling the start of warmer weather. During a recent visit, we ran into an angler who said the smallmouth fishing was great. Now, just a couple more months until it’s time to float!

Winter Floods and Mild Temps

The winter and spring rains have kept us inside quite a bit, but we’ve kept our eye on the restoration area. The most notable flood event was December 27-30, 2015. Our on-site rain gauge measured 7.64 inches in the three day period, and water depth on the USGS gauge read at 19 feet for December 28, 2015! Check out the slideshow of in-stream flood pictures below.

The flooding reached into Archey Creek Park, covering the field and spilling into the bathroom and concession stand. Our restoration is not meant to prevent this type of flooding. Floods like these will naturally occur periodically because Archey Creek Park was built in the floodplain with the purpose of accommodating the flows of a fairly large water system. Flooding allows the fish community and other aquatic species to access the floodplain, typically a terrestrial and disconnected land. By allowing flood waters to access the floodplain, aquatic species get to gorge themselves on frogs and other critters that are usually unavailable to them.  As a byproduct they fill the pond as well – better fishing!  The nutrients from the water also nourish the land, making the grass greener and trees healthier. For a natural ecosystem, flooding is a wonderful thing, but for joggers and ball players, we understand that it is a bit of an inconvenience. This is one way that humans and nature coexist within a river’s boundary.

Despite all of the high water, the restoration site is still doing stellar with all structures performing just as expected. A section of the new walking trail, however, was…well…compromised. Unfortunately, this segment of the trail was placed too close to the stream bank, and the flood waters undercut the pavement. It was pretty impressive and a reminder of how powerful water can be, particularly in places without large tree root systems already established.

Needless to say, repairs are underway and set to be completed by May 2016. The trail has been moved farther from the stream to protect it from flood damage like this. Pavement has already been poured, and Geocell, an erosion control product, will be installed on both sides of the trail. Geocell is a honeycomb shape of welded, high-density polyethylene strips. It will eliminate rutting around the trail edges and still allow water to drain through. Because so many visitors frequent the park, there are plans in the making to expand the trail system. This will allow walkers and nature viewers to access more of the park, see more views of the restoration project and river scenery, and raise that heart rate!

After these spring rains and the Geocell is installed, we should be in good shape for the summer. We’re looking forward to seeing you on the trail soon!


A red-shouldered hawk hunts for prey along the j-hook structure.

Why Partnerships Between Industry and Conservation Groups Matter

This is a re-post we’d like to share from Mark Boling, President-V+ Development Solutions at Southwestern Energy.  Mark describes our collaboration well, we’d like to thank him and the staff at SWN once again for recognizing the Archey Fork Little Red River as the important resource that it is for the community of Clinton.  See the posting here https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-partnerships-between-industry-conservation-groups-mark-boling?trk=prof-post 

Mark Boling at a site visit to the Archey Fork in 2013.

Mark Boling at a site visit to the Archey Fork in 2013.

A great dedication of Phase 2

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A great time was had last Thursday with our Archey Fork partners and friends in Clinton. The city of Clinton kindly hosted us all to a fantastic fish fry, following the dedication of the project, and we can’t say thank you enough. We are lucky to work in such a great community!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The project tour promptly followed the dedication where the methodology for restoring the river was explained.  All the new structures in the river, including the toe-wood, J-hook, and boulder riffles were showcased and their function in the river described.  If you missed it, no worries!  As mentioned at the event, The Nature Conservancy will continue to monitor the project, irrigate the newly planted vegetation, and fund-raise for Phase III of the project over the next six months.  If you are interested in volunteering in any of these efforts, please email Joy DeClerk (jdeclerk@tnc.org) we are always looking for new friends in the community that are interested in getting involved!   Thanks again to the City of Clinton for the wonderful fish fry and to Southwestern Energy, without your substantial contribution this project would not be a reality.

June 11th Dedication of Phase II and Spring Update

We are long overdue for an update and have lots to share!  It may take several posts to catch everyone up to speed on progress, spring floods, growth, and park enhancements.  First, let me invite everyone to the park on June 11th for a dedication of Phase II of the project, funded in majority by Southwestern Energy Company.  Please click the link here for the Phase II Dedication Invitation. We will gather at Archey Fork Park, rain or shine, at 10 am for brief remarks, refreshments, and a tour of the project along the city’s new River Walk Trail.  We hope you will join us, you’ll be amazed at the river’s new look!

This new boulder home for the yellowcheek darter held well during all the May floods.

This new boulder home for the yellowcheek darter held well during all the May floods.

We concluded Phase II construction in February/March of this year and proceeded to plant over 200 trees along the river banks.  Thanks so much to Carol Corning and the Clinton High School students and especially to the Southwestern Energy employees who dedicated time towards our planting efforts along the river and making enhancements along the Archey Fork Park trail.

AR TNC prescribed fire crew helping us for the day!

AR TNC prescribed fire crew helping us for the day!


Thank you Carol Corning for bringing these Clinton High School students to help plant trees!

Although it was a stormy day, 16 Southwest Energy employees came with shovels and wheelbarrows in hand on May 15th to help with park enhancements along Town Branch at the east end of the park.  The rain didn’t deter these folks as we brought in stone from Stevens Stone Supply and proceeded to make stone tree rings that we later mulched.  These were not easy to build and everyone worked hard, thank you SWN!

After all the rain these planted trees have had in the last several weeks, they are sure to do well in their new environment! As always though the heat and summer dryness will eventually come and we’ll be prepared.  Despite only using our irrigation system once or twice last year, we will set it up again and every 10 days it doesn’t rain, we’ll pump a nominal amount of water out of the river to irrigate the newly planted trees.

SWN employees volunteering their time to enhance the trees planted along Town Branch in Archey Fork Park.

SWN employees volunteering their time to enhance the trees planted along Town Branch in Archey Fork Park.

As many of you have seen for yourself, Dwight Wilson with the City of Clinton has been hard at work extending the walking trail into the newly acquired park area and along Phase I of the river restoration project.  Thank you to Charles Wilson for clearing the area and Dwight for creating a way for people to see and learn about the restoration work we have completed, the trail looks great!

The new addition to the River Walk Trail

The new addition to the River Walk Trail

We hope to see everyone at the June 11th event so you can see the good work for yourself.

Joy DeClerk

Super Harvest Moon

During the restoration process, we use game cameras to monitor the site to see how our structures perform during flood events, capture footage of construction work, and track wildlife usage. The pictures and videos are used in presentations, reports, and social media outlets such as this blog. On September 8, 2014, we experienced not only a harvest moon but also a supermoon.

Behold, the Super Harvest Moon!

This video was taken in Phase 1 Bend 1, looking downstream from the j-hook structure.

http://earthsky.org/space/harvest-moon-2#super offers more information on what occurred this particular date as well as definitions of a harvest moon and supermoon.