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.
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.
Over 200 people attended the 2018 Drain Smart Meet the Artists Celebration at the Centre at University Park on June 26. 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 by Susan Williamson. Vote online now through July 26. The top three vote-getters win prize money.
Thanks to our caterers: Bravo! Flyway Brewing, and Lake Liquor. Michael Eubanks performed wonderful jazz. Thanks also to our 2018 Drain Smart sponsors: The Bernice Garden, Central Arkansas Library System, Downtown Little Rock Partnership, Hillcrest Residents Association, Hillcrest Merchants Association, and the Promenade at Chenal. 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.
Thanks to Audubon's awesome partners who help make Drain Smart happen: Arkansas Arts Center, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, Arkansas Department of Transportation, Central Arkansas Water, City of Little Rock, Friends of Fourche Creek, Keep Little Rock Beautiful, Little Rock Parks and Recreation, Little Rock Water Reclamation Authority, The Promenade at Chenal, and THV11.
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.”