Connecting People with Nature
Photo: Ben Meadors
Connecting People to nature
The next step in Audubon's NATIVE Project is under way in eastern Arkansas. Audubon Arkansas and project partners Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and Roundstone Native Seed Company are assisting farmers with establishing production plots of pollinator-friendly forbs such as Compassplant, Prairie Blazingstar, and Missouri Ironweed. The first ten acres are being planted across four farms in Jefferson and Arkansas Counties.
Last fall volunteers helped Audubon and Natural Heritage hand-collect seeds from remnants of the Grand Prairie. Roundstone germinated those seeds into plugs and brought the plugs and their plug planter to Arkansas this summer. Before the plugs go in, Audubon works with the farmers to install sheets of plastic ("plastic mulch") and irrigation hoses ("drip tape") to efficienty suppress weeds and water the plants.
When these plants mature they will produce seeds of their own, which together with the grass seed from farmers' production plots will be used for prairie restoration. In this way farmers are growing an environmentally friendly, climate-change resistent cash crop that will benefit pollinators, songbirds, and game species like the Northern Bobwhite.
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: Bavo!, 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.
"Endangered Birds of America" 2018 calendar featuring original paintings by Little Rock artist Hannah Keltner benefits Audubon. Ms. Keltner will donate half of the proceeds to Audubon Arkansas, the rest covers the cost of printing. The cost is $20. Order by e-mailing her. This is part of her year-long independent study project she did on John James Audubon and bird conservation. See more of her work at PaintedSparrow Design.