Wetlands plan progresses | Arkansas Blog

Monday, May 3, 2010

Wetlands plan progresses

Posted By on Mon, May 3, 2010 at 2:41 PM


WETLANDS VISION: This sketch of the wetlands project was first released in 2007.

City officials announced Monday that work would begin May 17 on the wetlands project announced in 2007 for seven acres west of the Clinton Library. Leslie Newell Peacock reports:

City Director Dean Kumpuris quoted his friend Haskell Dickinson — whom he called the “ultra contrarian” — today at an update on the seven-acre Bill Clark Wetlands project, saying right off the bat that no, it’s not a wetland.

What the Arkansas River backwater along the Clinton Library park will be, after the expenditure of $2.2 million, will be a lesson in conservation, an attraction to visitors to the park and new habitat, even if created rather than restored, for native plants and animals.

Kumpuris and representatives from the city and the landscape architects for the Clark Wetlands, which honors the late CEO of CDI Contractors, gave an update on the project, first announced in 2007. Donors to the project, overseen by the city, include the state Game and Fish Commission ($400,000), stimulus money from the feds ($353,000), the Clinton Foundation ($500,000), One Banc ($100,000) and private donors ($675,000).

The rectangular backwater, walled in by a rock revetment, is now clogged with litter and alligator weed, an invasive non-native plant. The Clark Wetland, when complete, will have a low-water area with sandbars and an upper water area to be landscaped with tupelo gum and cypress and other water-loving trees and shrubs. A boardwalk will take visitors to the middle of the pond to look at fish and birds and other wildlife, and there will be a path from the Junction Rock Island Railroad Bridge area along the east side of the wetland. A floating trash filter will be installed at the culvert that drains downtown into the backwater; the trash will be kept visible as a teaching tool on what happens when folks toss their cups and other debris into the streets downtown.

Work will start May 17 with a hoped-for land construction date by the end of the year and landscaping by next spring. Landscape architect Brian Smith explained that river level, and not engineers, will decide when the wetland project is complete. Because of recent high river levels, he said, “If we’d started two years ago we’d still be working on it.”


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