Protecting important urban wetlands
For nearly a decade, Audubon Arkansas has spearheaded a growing effort to protect the Fourche Creek Watershed, arguably the most important urban watershed in the state of Arkansas. The watershed drains and filters runoff from Little Rock, Arkansas’s capital.
Despite years of abuse and neglect, Fourche Creek continues to support a highly diverse population of flora and fauna and an 1,800 acre core bottomland region that still maintains its wetland functions and character.
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Fourche Creek recreation was the focus of Little Rock's 2016 Sustainability Summit. Join Mayor Mark Stodola on a float along Fourche and meet some of the Friends of Fourche Creek.
Floatable trash isn't the only junk found along Fourche Creek. Non-native, invasive plant species such as Chinese Privet, Chinese Tallow Tree, Red-tipped Photina, and Japanese Honeysuckle line the creek and dominate the forest understory in many places. To start restoring the health of Fourche Bottoms Audubon Arkansas is using mechanical and chemical control of invasive plants at two public access points. Between Benny Craig Park and Interstate Park we are clearing 4,000 linear feet of Fourche Creek streambank plus about 12 acres of adjacent parkland with help from the City of Little Rock and Central Arkansas Master Naturalists.
Audubon Arkansas’s conservation efforts around Fourche Creek have attracted two great partners in July. We received $20,000 from corporate neighbor 3M, allowing us to conduct more outreach and cleanup events along Fourche. The 3M Environmental Reserve Fund supports a series of BioBlitzes – events where volunteers will discover the rich diversity of flora and fauna that inhabit Fourche Bottoms, while also classifying and removing trash that has been washed into the woods.
The Arkansas Arts Council has agreed to support Drain Smart again this year, increasing their investment to $8,700 through the Collaborative Project Support funding program (made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts). Audubon Arkansas administers the Drain Smart program, blending public art with a conservation message on Little Rock storm drains. Funding goes to support the artists that participate, in addition to purchasing supplies and equipment our talented artists need to complete these unique works of art in the capital city.
“These investments by corporate and civic partners reflect the importance of Fourche Creek to our communities in Little Rock,” said Brett Kincaid, Executive Director for Audubon Arkansas. “We are grateful that 3M and the Arts Council continue to show faith in our work and our mission to clean up this diamond in the rough.”
Over 400 people attended the Drain Smart Meet the Artists Celebration at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center on June 13. That is double last year's crowd. Guests talked with the artists about their murals, voted for their favorite art, donated to support the project, and learned that you should never litter because trash on the street gets washed into our creeks through storm drains. Checkout photos from the event. Vote online now through July 13.
Thanks to our caterers: Bravo!, Del Frisco, The Root Cafe, Flyway Brewing, and Lake Liquor. Thanks also to our 2017 Drain Smart sponsors: The Promenade at Chenal, THV11, Tegna Foundation, Heights Neighborhood Association, Arkansas Arts Center, The Bernice Garden, Cental Arkansas Water, Hillcrest Harvestfest, Hillcrest Residents Association, Hillcrest Merchants Association, Central Arkansas Library System, Downtown Little Rock Partnership, Pulaski County Recycling & Waste Reducation. Support for Drain Smart is also provided, in part, by the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Coursing along the southern reaches of Arkansas's capital city, Fourche Creek provides a natural escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
A heartfelt thank you to the 86 people who spent a collective 360 hours on Saturday March 11 to cleanup Interstate Park and Fourche Bottoms, plus clear the first 1/2-mile of trail through the bottoms. Volunteers removed 130 bags of trash, 202 tires (176 of which were pulled out by Arkansas Canoe Club in the weeks prior to the event) plus an excavator tire estimated to weigh 2,200 lbs. All of that plus miscellaneous junk added up to about 4 tons of trash! Thanks also to Keep Little Rock Beautiful and American Rivers for supplies and promoting, Starbucks on Sam Peck for coffee, Loblolly Creamery for the coupons, and Davis Tire for the free tire recycling service. Thanks to Arkansas Canoe Club, Central Arkansas Trail Alliance, Central Arkansas Master Naturalists, Entergy, 3M, UALR, and Boy Scouts for bringing groups of volunteers.