Favorite

Progress on Fourche 

Study would allow creek area purchase.

FLOATING THE FOURCHE: Audobon intern kayaks through the bottomland.
  • FLOATING THE FOURCHE: Audobon intern kayaks through the bottomland.

It's been floating around for 12 years, but a final environmental impact statement that would allow the Army Corps of Engineers to purchase bottomlands in the Fourche Creek basin for protection and recreation is on its way to Washington.

The next step: Persuading the Corps (or the Congress) to fund the acquisition of 1,750 acres and pay for “nature appreciation facilities” along the bottoms in Southwest Little Rock. Estimated cost: $5.1 million.

The Fourche bottoms have long been championed by state and private conservation groups for their importance to clean water and as a remnant of original, vanishing Arkansas. The Fourche serves as the drain and filter for all of Little Rock. It's lined by 300-year-old bald cypresses;  some 50 species of fish swim there.

But the bottoms' location next to the BFI landfill and other industrial areas means it's not as clean as it should be. Five years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Corps chose the Fourche as one of eight streams nationally to be part of the Urban Rivers Restoration Initiative. With grants from the EPA and state agencies, Audubon Arkansas has worked since then on bank restoration, replanting and stream clean-up.

The Corps needs $2.6 million to buy the land — most of it in city hands — and $2 million for trails, viewing areas, restrooms, signage and parking. (Another $520,000 is for the impact study). Of that, Little Rock would kick in from $1.2 million to $2.1 million, depending on whether the government determines cost sharing at 25 or 35 percent. The value of the land owned by the city — $850,000 — is part of the match.

Private property owners include the Coleman family, who owned Coleman Dairy on Roosevelt Road.

Project manager Julia Smethurst said the bottomlands acquisition was first proposed in the 1980s; in the 1990s, the Corps completed a $30 million flood control project in the Fourche basin, but land acquisition wasn't budgeted. At the repeated request of the city, the Corps in 2000 agreed to re-evaluate the acquisition. The Urban Rivers designation came in 2005. With a few changes — including relocating the nature facilities away from what turned out to be an old city landfill — the Corps put out its impact study for review in 2005.

Smethurst said that after the Environmental Protection Agency receives the study there will be a 30-day review period for state and federal agencies. The Corps would then decide whether to budget for the project. If it declined to include it in its budget, Smethurst said, the project could still go forward if Congress appropriated funds.

Favorite

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • UAMS restarts cardiac surgery program

    The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, which had to suspend its cardiac surgical care in May when its heart surgeon, Dr. Gareth Tobler, retired before a new hire had been made, has resumed its program.
    • Jul 13, 2018
  • A new design for 30 Crossing: No, not narrower.

    The Arkansas Department of Transportation has made a few changes to the 30 Crossing project that will widen the seven-mile Interstate 30 corridor through North Little Rock and Little Rock, the most significant for downtown Little Rock being the creation of a four-lane Second Street from Mahlon Martin Drive east of I-30 to Cumberland Street west of I-30. The new street would serve as relief from traffic to and from the interstate, to be concentrated at Fourth Street.
    • Jul 12, 2018
  • Arts Center director off to North Carolina

    Todd Herman, the executive director of the Arkansas Arts Center, is leaving the institution for a job at The Mint Museum in Charlotte, N.C.
    • Jul 12, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Latest in Arkansas Reporter

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Paris pleads guilty

    • Twila Paris and family need to stop speaking out of both sides of their mouths…

    • on July 15, 2018
  • Re: Paris pleads guilty

    • Twila Paris and her family need to stop speaking out of both sides of their…

    • on July 15, 2018
  • Re: MAGA

    • The trade war started after NAFTA and the WTO were signed by Bill Clinton and…

    • on July 14, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation