Connecting People with Nature
Photo: Ben Meadors
Connecting People to nature
Audubon Arkansas brings National Renewables Expert to Arkansas
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.
This project has a conservation impact on 1.8 million acres of land and improved outcomes for four priority bird species.
As we move into the Holiday Season, it's a good time to reflect on this year's accomplishments. I am proud of the work Audubon Arkansas has accomplished in 2016.
Despite the headwinds we now face, we are resolved to make sure that 2017 is even better. If you are willing to stand with us and make sure that we protect and preserve the Natural State, please consider closing out this year with a donation. You can DONATE HERE.
Audubon Arkansas's NATIVE Project got off to a great start last fall. During eight events in October and November, 43 volunteers put in a collective 174 hours alongside staff from Audubon Arkansas and project partners Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and Ozark Ecological Restoration Inc. We hand-harvested 168 pounds of uncleaned native grass and wildflower seeds from eight remnant prairies in four prairie regions across the state. The seeds will be used to start production plots on farms in each region in an effort to efficiently and exponentially increase the supply of seeds needed for prairie restoration. Ultimately this will benefit pollinators, songbirds, and game species like the Northern Bobwhite.
Three species of native prairie grasses and 14 species of wildflowers were collected. By far the most bulk seed collected, 62 lbs., was from Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), a dominant prairie grass species. Among the forbs, Prairie Blazingstar (Liatris pycnostachya) and Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum) also provided a bounty at 28 and 24 lbs., respectively. Other targeted species included Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida), Rattlesnake-master (Eryngium yuccifolium), and Wild Quinine (Parthenium integrifolium). The seeds are currently being cleaned by Roundstone Native Seed Company. The flowers will be germinated so plugs can be planted, which is an efficient use of the relatively small amount of seed collected for many species.
Currently, Audubon is recruiting new farmers for the project, and assisting current native plant producers with expanding their acreage.
We will schedule more volunteer seed collection days in the coming months to add species that bloom earlier in the year. Stay tuned for event announcements.
This material is based upon work supported by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Office of Advocacy and Outreach, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award numbers 69-3A75-17-22 and 59-2501-16-025, respectively. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.