The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas, Southwestern Energy partner to rehabilitate Archey Fork

SWN provides $900,000 to fully-fund Phase I of 3-year construction project

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Mark Boling, President of V+ Development Solutions, a division of Southwestern Energy Company (SWN), announced SWN’s $900,000 commitment to fund Phase I of the Archey Fork restoration project led by The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas (TNC) during his keynote address at the Nature Conservancy’s Annual Partners in Conservation Luncheon in Little Rock.

“In April 2012, SWN announced the creation of V+ Development Solutions with the mission of engaging stakeholders to develop innovations and improvements that positively impact environmental stewardship, the economy and local communities. As part of this initiative, SWN approached The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas to help in identifying potential partnership projects that would benefit residents of the Fayetteville Shale,” Boling said. “We are proud to join in the effort to restore the Archey Fork to a condition that will improve habitat for a variety of rare aquatic species, protect and improve water quality in Greers Ferry Lake, and improve recreational opportunities in the area.”

TNC has been working with the US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the City of Clinton to restore a 3.2 mile stretch of the Upper Little Red River at the confluence of the South Fork and Archey Fork that was straightened and widened in the mid-1980s for flood control.

The river is threatened by sediment from decades of eroding river banks, run-off from rural roads and the clearing of riparian forest. This degradation of the river is contributing sediment into Greers Ferry Lake which provides drinking water for more than 200,000 as well as significant economic benefits through hydropower and recreational opportunities.

“Water quality of both the Little Red River and Greers Ferry Lake is important for the economic vitality of Clinton and the region,” said Scott Simon, The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas Director. “With SWN’s generous contribution we are one step closer to protecting and improving these precious resources.”

TNC has developed a large-scale restoration design-and-build strategy based on the science of natural channel design. The project will require channel shaping and construction of in-channel rock structures to be completed in three phases, with the goal of reducing stream bank erosion, restoring channel stability, improving aquatic habitat and improving water quality. Phases I and II will restore approximately one mile of Archey Fork near Clinton, and Phase III will improve nearly two miles of the South Fork. Construction is scheduled to begin Summer 2013.

###

The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas works collaboratively with private landowners, businesses, state and federal agencies, and non-government organizations to conserve and restore the lands and waters of the Natural State for the benefit of people.

Southwestern Energy

Southwestern Energy is an independent energy company whose wholly-owned subsidiaries are engaged in oil and gas exploration and production, natural gas gathering and marketing. Additional information on the company can be found online at http://www.swn.com.

Biological Monitoring on the Archey Fork and Reference Reaches

Last week we were able to take advantage of the beautiful fall weather and sample fish species in reaches of the Archey Fork Restoration Site, as well as reference reaches on the Archey and Beech Forks in order to obtain preliminary data.  In the project area, focus was given to areas where critical habitat improvement, such as toe-wood structures, is planned.  This allows us to examine the effectiveness of restoration efforts after the project is completed.  For the riffles we used a technique called kick-seining, where a seine (see photos) is placed in the current and 2-3 people move and kick rocks upstream of the net, moving the fish with the current into the seine.

Ready. Set. KICK!

Collecting the fish species after kicking and moving the rocks and sediment.

Collecting the fish species after kicking and moving the rocks and sediment.

After collecting fish throughout the riffle we identified and counted the fish species, then released them back into the water!

Identifying and counting fish species.

Preliminary biological monitoring will continue for fish and invertebrates throughout fall and spring in the project site as well as reference reaches.  After the project is complete fish will continue to be sampled annually during low flow, and invertebrates during the fall and spring months!

Thanks to our partners Tate Wentz and Mary Barnett from ADEQ, Mitch Wine from USFWS, and Jason Throneberry from ANHC for all the help and guidance with the biological monitoring on the Archey Fork.  Y’all rock!

Scenery along the Archey Fork

Taking measurements of the riffle on a beautiful Archey Fork reference reach.

Sneaky Mr. Snapping Turtle

Archey Fork Clean-Up Success!

A big thanks to all of those who came out and volunteered at the Archey Fork Clean-Up on Saturday! There was a great turn out and we had a lot of fun! The morning kicked off under the pavilion in Archey Fork Park with a presentation by Joy DeClerk. Joy showed maps of the up-coming Archey Fork restoration project, and talked about the importance of restoring the Archey Fork River, not just for biological diversity of the river system, but also for the town of Clinton. She also showed pictures and videos of the structures built on previous restoration projects.

credit: Kathy Sherwood

After the presentation we split up into groups and headed out to different areas of the river corridor to pick up trash and recyclable material. Overall the teams were able to remove nearly a ton of trash and recyclables as well as 80 tires from the river corridor and surrounding area in Clinton!

credit: Kathy Sherwood

credit: Kathy Sherwood

credit: Kathy Sherwood

We finished back at the pavilion with lunch. All that cleaning up worked up a pretty good appetite! First Service Bank of Clinton provided the grill as well as hamburgers, hot dogs, and plenty of refreshments!

credit: Kathy Sherwood

Thank you to all of the sponsors and volunteers who helped to make this event a success! Also, thanks to the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission Stream Team for providing trash bags and equipment for the clean-up. Finally, a special thanks to Peyton Rose and the Arkansas Public Policy Panel for organizing such a great event!