ozarkwaterpal | Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art

Member since Oct 26, 2010

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Founder, Ozark Water Protection Alliance Co-founder, Grassrootsozark.net Conservation Chair, Buffalo River Chapter Ozark Society; Musician; Organic small farmer

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Recent Comments

Re: “Interior complains about hog farm OK near Buffalo

fyi.. Big Creek is the tributary to the Buffalo.. the CAFO operation will be spreading liquid manure in fields bordering the creek.

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by ozarkwaterpal on 03/23/2013 at 5:39 AM

Re: “An aerial look at Bearcat Hollow habitat project in Ozarks

Arkansas’ elk herd originated from 112 Rocky Mountain elk stocked along the Buffalo National River in the early 1980’s. According to statistics published by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the herd now numbers approximately 500 and is steadily increasing. The herd range covers approximately 315,000 acres in portions of Newton, Searcy, Boone and Carroll Counties. Due to recent land purchases by the Arkansas Game and Fish commission and related agreements with the US Forest Service, the elk’s population and range is expanding. According to Larry Pharris, a former Biologist with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and Kent Bonar, naturalist with the Newton County Wildlife Association, Rocky Mountain Elk are not native to this region. The smaller Eastern Elk once native to Arkansas are now extinct.

In the Bearcat Hollow Project, the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission (AGFC) and United States Forest Service (USFS) plan to expand the habitat and increase the size of the herd by luring the herd onto the National Forest in the area of Richland Creek. According to the Environmental Assessment (EA), the USFS plans to burn the entire project area every 2-3 years on average for at least the next 10 years, including warm season burns to permanently kill some areas of the forest. Over 1000 acres of “wildlife openings” are planned. According to the EA, these areas of forest will be clearcut, bulldozed, burned, sprayed with herbicides, and planted in grasses for elk forage.

No monitoring has been done to evaluate elk impacts on the native plants and wildlife. In the Environmental Analysis for the Bearcat Hollow project, the USFS declined to comment on the expansion of the elk herd onto USFS lands, but placed the discussion under “ISSUES ELIMINATED FROM DETAILED STUDY” stating, “…[these] are not key issues in the analysis.

The 10-year plan for the Ozark National Forest states that, “increases in habitat [for the elk] would continue over a 50 year period with an ever expanding elk population.” (EIS 3-276). Yet neither the USFS nor the AGFC have conducted any detailed study of the impacts of expanding introduced elk onto USFS land in the Ozark National Forest. Nor have any agencies sought or gained approval from county officials or residents for expanding the elk onto the Ozark National Forest.

Local landowners have previously expressed concerns about plans to further expand the elk herd in Newton and Searcy County. In 2007, both counties passed resolutions requesting that no further expansion take place until area residents approve comprehensive studies and plans. Residents commonly question how landowner conflicts with the elk will be resolved. Will agencies compensate landowners for damages from nuisance elk? Will these agencies seek to prosecute landowners who shoot elk that damage their property?
Some people believe expanding the elk onto the Ozark National Forest could result in more problems down the road for both landowners and native wildlife.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by ozarkwaterpal on 07/16/2012 at 8:52 AM

Re: “An aerial look at Bearcat Hollow habitat project in Ozarks

Starting in 2007, logging, burning, herbicides, and bulldozing pasture for elk was approved via Phase 1 of the USFS Bearcat Hollow Project in beautiful Richland Creek. If phase 2 is approved, the project will cover 38,000 acres in three counties. This includes thousands of acres of logging, herbicide applications, burning, and bulldozing native forest to be replaced with non native grasses and rocky Mountain elk.

The archeological record for elk in the Ozarks indicates no Western elk ever roamed here, and Eastern elk were few in number when and where they occurred. Archeological studies have found an occurrence of 16% remains for Eastern elk vs. 22% for bison and 96% for white tail deer in Ozark archeological sites.

Western Rocky Mountain elk cannot survive in the Ozarks without high quality pasture. The protein content of forage native to Arkansas is 2-4 times lower than preferred forage of Rocky Mountain elk. The public funds (tax dollars) dedicated to feeding and maintaining the introduced elk in Arkansas is already a huge amount. We are presently funding the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, The National Park Service, and now the US Forest Service to clearcut and burn the native forest to support a non native species.

Yes, we need research and data regarding how their presence impacts the ecosystem. Yes, we need to understand that the density of the herd in places like Boxley is unsustainable and ecologically imbalanced. Yes, we need objective surveys to determine landowner impacts and opinions. We need to be having a constructive dialogue between agencies, counties, and county residents to chart a balanced approach to maintaining a herd with clear population goals and clear boundaries. And at the same time, we need to be gathering data and assembling an EIS so that we can make informed and intelligent decisions.

I personally believe we could keep a small to moderate sized herd along the Buffalo River, have the tourist attraction and limited elk hunts.. and the economic benefits.. but the USFS plans for an ever expanding herd on the Ozark National Forest is an idea with little scientific basis, no detailed analysis, and little popular support.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by ozarkwaterpal on 07/15/2012 at 8:28 PM

Re: “Fracking problems

Amen brother... Let's exploit every last drop of oil and gas to drive the entire globe towards irreversible climate change, polluting our water and destabilizing earthquake fault zones while ignoring the last opportunity we have to create a clean renewable energy infrastructure, break our addiction to fossil fuels, and leave our children a livable planet.

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by ozarkwaterpal on 03/04/2012 at 4:05 PM

Re: “Fracking fields — how clean?

Given the fact that waste injection wells are causing earthquakes due to the increased volumes and pressures of gas well fracking related waste, it is absurd that ADEQ and AOGC are permitting a waste injection well within 10 miles of Arkansas Nuclear One. Our regulations are inadequate, and our state officials are clearly out to lunch.

8 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by ozarkwaterpal on 02/17/2012 at 9:47 AM

Re: “Committee aims to toughen Arkansas ethics law

The obvious omission in this proposal is a law barring anyone with a direct financial interest to serve on a commission regulating the activity in question. For example, why do we continue to allow the Oil and Gas commission to be dominated by commissioners that reap direct financial benefit from their own decisions governing businesses they are supposedly charged with regulating? If we are truly going to reclaim our democracy, our health, and the health of our environment, this truck sized loophole in our "ethics law" must be corrected.

8 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by ozarkwaterpal on 02/06/2012 at 1:44 AM

Re: “The great elk debate

It should be noted that the USFS and AGFC began making plans to expand the elk onto the Ozark National Forest in private meetings with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation beginning in 2001. The public was neither notified, nor invited to these meetings. This was a violation of the Federal Advisory Committees Act, a fact that was clearly pointed out in formal comments to the USFS. The ability for citizens to be involved in managing our wildlife depends on having state and federal agencies willing to practice transparency in their planning, and respond appropriately to the concerns of the public.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by ozarkwaterpal on 02/05/2012 at 8:29 AM

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