Spring is a Success!

Phase I restoration efforts continue to amaze us. After a couple of big rains and a bankfull event (just a short 4 months after construction was finished), our structures are maintaining and performing wonderfully. As with any stream restoration project, the river will make its final touches in order to settle in with the new alterations. Needless to say, we like what we see. The toewood is holding strong, protecting the banks from further erosion as water flows around the bend. Point bars are building on the inside of the bends as water deposits gravel and sand in lower velocities. The boulders in our riffles have settled in nicely with small scour holes around them creating refuge for fishes and aquatic insects. It all looks great!

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Toewood and j-hook structures give immediate protection to the stream banks as trees and grasses have the chance to recolonize and serve as the long-term protection tool against any future stream instability. The roots from these plants protect the banks from erosion even after our structures are gone. The survival of these transplanted trees is key to our restoration efforts. It is always a concern that uprooting shrubs and trees and replanting them will cause too much stress, and the plant may not survive. This project was particularly interesting because we were able to use trees from the immediate restoration site that were already accustomed to the soil, temperatures, amount of sunlight, and rainfall that occur on the banks of Archey Fork. We are seeing a lot of growth from both the transplants and live stakes; however, to ensure their survival throughout the summer, our crew has installed a small irrigation system. If there is a drought, these birch, willow, alder, and sycamore trees won’t have to go through additional stress.



Thanks for checking in on Phase I. We’ll be gearing up for Phase II before you know it!



Little Rock Garden Club field trip March 18, 2014


Sneak Peak!

The day has come and Phase I of this project is complete!  Take a sneak peek and click on a few photos below to see the finished project following a significant flow event that occurred just one day after construction was complete!  Stay tuned for a full post including more details of the last month of project construction as well as photos and video during high flows.

-Joy DeClerk, Project Lead

November Project Update


Project construction is nearing the end!  In the months of October and November, we’ve completed two, 500+ linear feet toewood structures and transplanted nearly 50 trees on the outside banks of the Archey Fork river.  These trees consisted of willows, alders, sycamore, and river birch – all extracted onsite!  Image

We held field tours of the project site on October 22nd for the Clinton Chamber of Commerce group and guests, and again on November 19th for The Nature Conservancy Board of Trustees and members of The Nature Conservancy’s North America Management Team.  Joy DeClerk also delivered a project update to the Upper Little Red Audubon Society on the evening of October 22nd.

We want to thank the local people of Clinton for engaging with us as we implement this project.  We have been excited to see your active involvement, questions, and enthusiasm for what we anticipate to be a big enhancement to the City Park, the floodplain, and the river and all of its inhabitants.  Please see the series of photos for the work that has been completed to date.

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As we begin to butt up against mother nature’s plans for this winter with rain, ice, and snow accumulating over the last week, we are focused solely on our last task at hand – the J-Hook structure.  This is the last structure we are building before finally opening up the channel and allowing the main flow of water through the newly constructed river bends.  Once weather allows, we anticipate this final structure complete within a week’s time.

Week Two

We have made some serious progress folks!  Ok, here’s the skinny: The toewood structure begins with laying foundation logs at specified angles to the tangent lines along the curve of a stream bank (see first diagram).  Following this, root wad logs are cantilevered over the foundation logs with the root wads facing the stream, a.k.a. prime fish habitat! (see diagram 2)  Then we place trash wood (tree tops, limbs, etc) on top of the root wad logs and back fill with soil.  That is where we are as of today.  The rest of this week will be spent backfilling, sloping and grading the new stream bank.  Please take a look at the structure diagrams & photos below, and compiled game camera shots we’ve put together for you (our video is live at: http://youtu.be/gaFRi-ech4s our second video is live at: http://youtu.be/SnO19kJX20A ).  Follow along as we progress through the completion of this structure.  We are excited about our quick progress and look forward to keeping you posted as we continue!

Joy DeClerk – Project Lead

Week One Photos

After several months of hauling material on site, completing the project flood model, processing & receiving permits, and ordering equipment rental, we finally arrived to the start date – appropriately the day after labor day!  This day has been long awaited by all of the TNC team members, partners, and local Clinton advocates of the project.  A big thank you again to Mr. Dwight Hutto for donating the tornado damaged trees from his property to be used for such an important purpose.  We not only got the pleasure of meeting and befriending Mr. Hutto, but also hearing many of his stories, often leaving us in belly laughter!

As many of you are probably wondering, what is the order of things for the project implementation?  Well, first the important things – Erosion Control!  The first groundbreaking was to dig a sediment retention pond.  We are in a nice dry spell right now with extremely low flows – just what the Dr ordered!  But, if this summer is any indicator of weird & unusual weather, we know to be prepared for anything.  So, although we are working in a very dry and small channel, we developed a series of levees to block all drainage from our construction area.  From these levees and thus isolated ponds we can pump to the sediment retention pond if needed, should water rise, or rainfall come, so that the turbid water can settle out before we return it to the main channel.  We also use hay bales at the outflow of each pond to further filter any running water.  Bonnie mounted a rain gauge onsite and began documentation of our activities and best management practices – all important requirements of our state and federal permits.

Finally digging began.  To install the toewood structure, it requires excavation of the existing bank – why?  So when the rootwads are placed facing the stream, they are as low in the channel as possible to prevent premature decaying and so we can use the material we excavated as much needed back fill and good river soil to nourish our plantings and transplanted trees and shrubs.  More info and pictures to come on this as we begin to build the toewood structure – stay tuned!

The amount of dirt to dig was a lot and we needed backup – so we ordered one more excavator onsite to help us get the job done quickly – Thank you Clark Machinery for providing a great machine on short notice.  Aside from feeling a bit like digging in a giant sandbox (who doesn’t love that?) it took patience, planning (where are we putting all of this?), and persistence.  Thanks to Aaron Reid (Reid & Sons Construction) who always has an eye for preparing for the next step, we are now in a place where we can begin building the first toewood structure.  Take a look at our pictures from this first excellent week of work and stay tuned as we keep you updated along the way.  Thank you for your interest in our project – our goal is to provide a quality river restoration project that eliminates excessive erosion of land, re-establishes much needed habitat for the fish and critters we love to see and catch, a project that we can all be proud of; a place where we can fish, swim and play.  We appreciate the warm welcome many of you have given us as we begin this project and look forward to meeting more of you along the way!

Joy DeClerk – Project Lead

Ground-Breaking Ceremony A Success

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the Archey Fork Restoration Project ground-breaking ceremony on June 28th. We kicked everything off at 10:30am and were lucky to have fairly decent temperatures. Hey, it’s summer in Arkansas…what can you expect?

Archey Fork Restoration dedication_June 2013_Simon

Among the speakers were Scott Simon, The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas director, Mark Boling, President of V+ Development Solutions, Don Richardson, former Mayor of Clinton, and Joy DeClerk, the restoration project leader. After the ceremony, Joy led a field trip around the site to explain more of the project.

You will be seeing some action in the next couple of weeks, as we continue to transport equipment and materials to the site. Thank you to the local landowners that have donated approximately 200 tornado-damaged trees so far to the project. Construction will begin once the transportation of materials is complete.


We are so fortunate to have such great partners and a supportive and welcoming community in Clinton. Thank you again to our partners and friends!

Middle Fork Saline River Construction PowerPoint

A Powerpoint presentation of the construction process at the Middle Fork Saline River Restoration Site. Much of the same process will be used during construction on the Archey Fork Little Red River this summer in Clinton, Arkansas. If you need to take a longer look at any of the slides, just pause the video.

Middle Fork Saline River Construction Time-Lapse Video

This video shows a quick step-by-step process of the construction involved in a river restoration project. The construction in the video was at a site on the Middle Fork Saline River, in Garland County, Arkansas. Much of the same process will be used during construction on the Archey Fork Little Red River this summer in Clinton, Arkansas.

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.