Friday, February 29, 2008

Sierra Club sponsors ENERGY SHIFT concert in Little Rock on March 15, 2008


Please mark your calendar for what’s shaping up to be a great night of music and activism. Join us on Saturday, March 15th, for the first Sierra Club “ENERGY SHIFT” concert in Little Rock. It’s an all-ages show, full of great music and great opportunities to make YOUR voice heard against dirty coal-fired power plants. Four of the acts were semifinalists in this year’s Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, and one will be in the finals next weekend.
Come hear some of Little Rock’s hottest rock and hip-hop acts, while you learn more about the dangers of the coal-fired power plants being proposed for Arkansas and what YOU can do to stop them.
Glen Hooks, Regional Representative
Sierra Club
1308 West 2nd Street
Little Rock, AR 72201
(501) 301-8280
(501) 744-2674 (cell)
Tune into SIERRA CLUB RADIO Tuesday mornings at 9 a.m.
88.3 FM in Central Arkansas, or listen live online at

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Governor's, Sheffield Nelson's plans differ on severance tax

Beebe negotiating on severance tax 2/27/08

Neither would provide funding for environmental damage of natural-gas drilling and production.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wetland lot gets reprieve from intense infill

Council decision on Arcadian Court in The Morning News

click image to zoom

When the city council of Fayetteville, Arkansas turned down an appeal by the developer of the propused Arcadian Court to build a bunch of small homes on a wetland lot across from the University Farm on W. Deane Street on Wednesday night not only residents of traditional neighborhoods nearby had to be pleased but also proponents of protecting wetland by "keeping water where it falls" were pleased.
Certainly, new plans for a less dense project will be offered, but every day a relatively natural area is protected counts for many reasons, especially for the unsuspecting and innocent living things inhabiting the land.
The lowest half of the property could remain as a natural rain garden instead of the developer creating a small and likely inadequate detention pond as shown on the previous plan. This is a clear example of the value of paying attention to the NIMBIES. People who have lived in an area usually have good reasons to dissent and be cynical about developers' plans, even though they can't possibly imagine all the problems a given project may cause. This is an example of how preventing the filling of land that previously was left alone has value.
The developer of this project is clearly a well-intentioned person who no doubt will find ways to use the lot that will reduce the damage to the environment. He can start by remodeling an existing home on the site rather than getting rid of an example of truly affordable housing.

Arcadian Court wetland on W. Deane Street

Council story in The Morning News


Council story in The Morning News

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

Would you put your sign up in front of this debacle?

Developers must replace trees

Click on image to zoom in.

East side soil and red dirt both eroding toward the West Fork of the White River

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Dead Horse Mountain Road crosses West Fork of the White River in the background

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Click on photo to zoom in

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silt fences, bales of hay both fail when not placed right and checked daily

Please click on images to enlarge.

Red dirt runoff headed for West Fork of the White River

Please click on images to enlarge.

Comments on state-of-the-city address: Propose some really sustainable ordinances before you retire!

This red-dirt disaster bordered by Huntsville Road, Stone Bridge Road and Dead Horse Mountain Road might have been prevented by more scrutiny by staff members and council and mayor and planning commissioners and the PUBLIC before approval.
I visited a few neighbors on Friday and asked what was being built there. They didn't know and said they weren't informed or talked with before it happened. They all mentioned experiencing various levels of anger, frustration and significant discomfort since the earth-moving and tree-dozing began.
Regardless of whether the planning and engineering staff looked at the plans closely before approval or studied the site well enough beforehand, having a city inspector visit such sites once a day (and big ones like this in a critical point overlooking a floodplain and with a small stream running through it and wonderfully fertile and absorbent soil and many trees and vegetation should be visited at least twice every day after approval and until construction is complete) could have prevented a lot of the damage.
A city should never approve a single site more than its building inspectors, watershed inspectors and tree and landscape inspectors can visit daily.

The following part of Mayor Dan Coody's state-of-the-city address concerns me in several ways.

"If a few individuals oppose any part of the project we will thwart the will of all the citizens who designed the plan, all the creative massaging of the Planning and Engineering staff, the citizen’s subcommittees, and the Planning Commission. In being hyper responsive to the individual, we completely discount the majority.

The ripple effects are serious. The developer, who is risking millions of private dollars in the project, just had his costs go up, making the price of everything in the project increase. That is bad for the consumer. The chances for financial success of the project are diminished. This is bad for the city and the developer, and it erodes the confidence of our city staff. It teaches the developer to avoid anything that is creative or innovative. It shows the developer how much easier, cheaper, and faster it would be just to do the same old sprawl-inducing, cookie-cutter, unimaginative development the public says, the staff says, and the Plan says we do not want."

The first paragraph needs some documentation. What problem-free project has been suppressed by the City Council because of a "few citizens' comments?

Dozens of long-time, highly respected people spoke to the council in opposition to the massive hotel planned for Dickson Street across from the post office. The council approved it. Only the filing of a strong lawsuit and the fact that the developer was about to be bankrupted by his other pie-in-the-sky projects killed that one, which the staff had recommended.

A project to build apartments off N. College on a wooded slope near Ozark Natural Foods was passed despite some of the city's leading citizens' attending a council meeting and speaking out. Even Gus Jones, the widow of Fayetteville's most famous architect and one of the few who might have designed some project to go in that forest without removing the forest spoke, against it.

Ruskin Heights drew opposition from fine people who live nearby. It passed regardless of their statements.

Someone please list projects that were killed by the council because of the objection of only a few people? If you can docement those, I'll educate myself by going to those sites and confirming that there was no good reason or there was a good reason.

When a group of people put their dignity on the line to speak against a project, the reasons are usually obvious. And, if some of those people live nearby, their objections should be considered.

Nobody forces developers to buy land and pay for plans to development it. More than half probably have the audacity to try to get approval of plans on property they do not own but have negotiated a period during which they can buy it if their plan is approved. And most of those do not have the money to buy it. They have a promise from a bank that a loan will be granted if they get the plans approved.

It is hard to take their pleas of HAVING to build a massive, intense project to meet their goal of profitability as of any significance.

What happened in the past three years is that many banks wish they hadn't granted those loans, possibly some of the developers wish they hadn't made the effort and, in the case of many such projects that actually have been partially or even fully completed and a lot of previously inactive potential NIMBIES have realized they should have joined the crowd saying "not in my backyard" years ago.

When the developers first came to the Town Branch neighborhood in 2003 with obviously environmentally threatening plans, many residents said it would do no good to speak out because we were a low-income neighborhood. But the way high-income neighborhood protests have been disregarded in recent years, it seems that Fayetteville City Government has become an equal-opportunity supporter of neighborhood destruction.

I don't believe the council can be blamed for allowing all these bad developments. The pressure on the staff to recommend things comes from the top of the administration and ignoring the recommendations of the paid staff is often the wrong thing for the council to do. The council members should not have to do the homework themselves.
But the result of what the council approve remains their responsibility.
I really hoped that Mayor Coody's decision not to run again was an indication he had decided to follow the lead of the mayor of Greenland, who has said publicly that only a one-term mayor can do the right thing. I assumed that the decision not to run again was Dan's way of allowing himself the opportunity to demonstrate that a two-term-only mayor can also do the right thing.

But the idea Dan's saying that REAL people's objections to projects are always less important than staff recommendations is ludicrous. The staff members seldom have approved a bad project and then bought a home to live in next door to it. And both staff members and planning commissioners often have to recommend or approve projects with flaws they can easily recognize because the current rules that bind them are antiquated. And many of the new-urbanist ideas that the staff understands and recommend work fine on flat ground with no existing timber and no wetland to manage. They don't work on our wooded mountainsides and the wetland and riparian zones of streams in the headwaters of the White River and the Illinois River.

When I think of the city and things that benefit the city, I think of the people who already live here and the existing buildings and trees and other living things. And I believe we have seen council members more and more put extra time into homework such as visiting proposed development sites and holding Ward meetings to offer neighbors a chance to discuss the problems that the staff may not have considered or that the administration may not have heard about.

Most if not all the current council members recognize that many projects didn't start out right and are looking to take steps to fix mistakes such as Aspen Ridge (Brenda Thiel and Adella Gray in Ward one — see links at right for Town Branch Neighborhood blogspot and Flickr photos on Town Branch watershed and Town Branch Neighborhood) and Red Oak Park (Shirley Lucas and Lioneld Jordan in Ward Four — see Red Oak Park links at right and Flickr photos on Red Oak Park.

More important, members of the council are taking steps to see that the staff learns from those mistakes what changes in the approval process can prevent such disasters in the future. I am familiar with those efforts, but I suspect that residents of other neighborhoods can cite examples of such efforts by the council members in their wards. Please share examples you many know of.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

St. Paul's Episcopal Church site of February 16, 2008, Sierra awards banquet

February 16, 2008

The Sierra Club Conservation Awards

Please join us as we honor Arkansas businesses, legislators, community organizations, and individuals who have made accomplishments in the way of conservation and protection of our state’s natural resources.
February 16, 2008
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church 
224 N East Ave.
Fayetteville AR.
Doors open for the Silent Auction at 6 pm. 
Dinner, provided by Greenhouse Grille, will be served at 6:30 pm. 
Ticket prices:
$25 in advance
$30 at the door
$15 Students

To reserve advance tickets, please mail your payment to the address below by February 9th. Make checks payable to OHG Sierra Club. For more informaion contact Molly Rawn @ 479.527.9499 or HYPERLINK ""
Molly Rawn
1239 E Cain Dr
Fayetteville AR 72703

Menu for Sierra Club Conservation Awards Banquet at 6:00 p.m. Saturday, February 16, 2008

Reminder of the Sierra Club's upcoming Conservation Awards Banquet from Molly Rawn.
My apologies to anyone receiving this who did not receive a paper invitation in the mail. I would like to share with you a little about our keynote speaker, Rita Harris, who has led Memphis-area environmental justice efforts for close to 20 years. She's designed and coordinated several grassroots environmental conferences and given "Toxic Tours" to educate area groups about environmental justice. These tours point out the injustices experienced by people living in the shadow of chemical polluters. She served on the Enforcement Subcommittee of the EPA's National Environmental Justice Advisory Council during the Clinton Administration.
As for the menu, Greenhouse Grille has a wonderful meal planned to include:Organic Shiitake and Portobello-Scallion Cheesecake served with
Grilled Breads
Greenhouse salad with Mixed Organic Greens, Carrot Ribbons,
Green Apples, Cranberries, Toasted Pecans, with a Balsamic
Organic Foccacia Bread and Olive Loaf
Grass Fed, Arkansas Raised Buffalo Lasagna with Mixed
Vegetables and 3 Cheese Medley.Pesto Pasta Primavera with Organic Shiitake Mushrooms,
Artichokes, Peppers, Tomatoes, Squash and Zucchini, mixed with
Fresh Organic Local Pesto and Parmesan Cheese
Our Silent Auction is sure to be a huge success! We have donations of origianl artwork made with found materials, locally made pottery, hiking equipment, hand blown glassware, gift certificates to local restaurants, locally made gourmet foods, jewlery, and spa products to mention just a few!
If you haven't purchased tickets yet, it is not too late. We will be selling tickets at the door for $30 and 15$ for students.
Please contact me if you have any questions!
See you at the banquet!
Molly Rawn, OHG Sierra Club Intern, (479) 879 1620

Monday, February 11, 2008

What happens when Wal-Mart detention pond is full on Sixth Street? This project is the final item on tonight's Planning Commission agenda

This tiny tributary of the West arm of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River floods the lot that is to be filled for construction of the so-called Farmers' Market commercial development. When the site is filled with red dirt and paved, the stream will be compressed and the neighbor's yard will flood and that flow will become a larger torrent threatening the house and other property downstream.
View east showing previously ditched but now natural-appearing stream flowing east. If this stream is put in a pipe, it will simply come out somewhere downstream flowing faster.

Third photo is of the big pipe that allows flow from the Wal-Mart detention pond on Sixth Street to flow to the east and between the lot set for construction and a private home to the south with the water heading into the West Arm of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River.
Note the bent grass, suggesting the speed and power of runoff when the detention pond fills.

This whole lot should continue to be a natural rain garden that would help alleviate downstream flooding and accept a bit of water from the street flow to help clean that water as it soaks in!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fayetteville, Arkansas, planning commission to consider construction on wetland lot immediately east of Wal-Mart on West Sixth Street tonight

Please click on images in preceding post below to see Dec. 8, 2007, images of the site.

Wetland lot east of Wal-Mart cleared before developer's plan goes to planning commission

Please click on images to enlarge photos of lot between W. Sixth Street and vegetated swale that carries flow from Wal-mart detention pond to the West Arm of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River and on to Beaver Lake.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Final showing of neighbors visiting with developers on CAT public-access TV tonight

LAST CHANCE TO SEE REPLAY of Town Branch Neighborhood and Ward 1 meeting with developers planning to replace Aspen Ridge developers to create student housing in the Town Branch overflow area and former wetland west of South Hill Avenue between Sixth and Eleventh streets in south Fayetteville, Arkansas.

8:45 pm Friday Feb. 7, 2008 — Ward 1/Town Branch-Neighborhood Meeting on Cox Cable channel 18, Fayetteville Public Access Television, the CAT!

9:30 am Saturday Feb. 8, 2008— Talking about how the neighborhood used to be — Robert Williams on Town Branch Neighborhood — on Cox Cable channel 18, Fayetteville Public Access Television, the CAT!

Robert Williams, whose property on South Hill Avenue is bordered on the west by the Aspen Ridge dredged and filled wetland, spoke while looking northwest from the intersection of South Duncan Avenue and Eleventh Street where a wetland area dredged out for a future street on rainy days is called Aspen Bayou by people who drive by.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sustainability Center lists week's events

PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE photo of muddy water running off unfinished and no-longer city authorized Aspen Ridge site and into storm drain at the Intersection of South Duncan Avenue and Eleventh Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas, after a rainstorm on February 15, 2008.

NWA Sustainability Center (
Sent: Tue 2/05/08 11:59 AM
February Newsletter
Upcoming Events
NOTE: On our website (updated within the next few days) (, you will find a complete list of upcoming events. On the webpage you can access more information associated with these events, such as fliers and maps.
Green Drinks - A Monthly Happy Hour for Sustainability and Environmental Professionals
02/06/2008 - 5:30
About: Organic beer, wine, sodas, smoothies, coffee, and fresh, natural food is available. Liquor Mart will bring a special wine selection. Omni's Carbon Caps Task Force will be sharing information on their work (see announcement below). Please pass this information along to friends and colleagues. Hope to see you there!
Location: Smilin' Jacks at 262 N. School Ave. in Fayetteville (behind Dickson St. Bookshop; across School Ave. from the Walton Arts Center Rose Garden

Omni's Carbon Caps Task Force launches an educational ad campaign
Omni's Carbon Caps Task Force (CCTF)
is launching an ad campaign to educate the Arkansas public in
preparation for the 2009 General Assembly of the state Legistature.
The CCTF's focus is to support the work of Governor Beebe's
Commission on Global Warming. The CCTF was instrumental in the
creation of the Commission in 2007.
To continue their support, the CCTF is beginning a publicity program to
bring global warming issues into public awareness. The first of their
initiatives is an ad campaign in the state's major news outlets.
Community support from Omni has created a $4000 matching fund to jump
start the campaign. We need your matching donations to make use of
this generous gift. Your support will go towards ad spots in
newspapers that provide basic facts and information about global
warming. With the fossil-fuel industry spending millions in Arkansas
to convince the public their technology is safe, we must respond with
an educational campaign of our own.
Secondly, the CCTF has launched the People's Legislative Alert Network
(Planetwork), a contact list for citizens interested in learning of
state legislation that is related to climate change. By joining this
list, you will receive alerts during the 2009 General Assembly when
bills are on the floor and our legislators need to know your stance.
for more information.
For general information about the Carbon Caps Task Force, contact Robert
McAfee, chair, 479 638 8871 or

Native Plant Gardening with Steve Owen
02/07/2008 - 6:30pm
Native plants are excellent choices for the home
landscape. Readily prepared for drought or temperature extremes, these plants
provide a level of beauty and interest beyond the usual marigolds and petunias.
Butterflies and hummingbirds know to look for these plants first when they
visit your garden.
Steve Owen: Proprietor of Bustani Farms, a nursery in Stillwater, OK.Steve will talk about some natives that are familiar to most people, and some promising species that aren't quite so common. Steve Owen, former host of The Oklahoma Gardener television program, is now the proprietor of Bustani Farms, a nursery in Stillwater, OK.
Register online now! $10members/$15 non-members.
Speaker: Dr. Robert Costanza from the Gund Institute of Ecological Economics
02/07/2008 - 17:00
About the speaker: Dr. Costanza is the co-founder and past president of the International Society for Ecological Economics and former chief editor of Ecological Economics. His research has focused on the interface between ecological and economic systems. His work has been cited in over 3,000 scientific articles since 1987, and more than 80 interviews and reports on his work have been cited in various media, including Newsweek, US News and World Report, The Economist, The New York Times, National Geographic, Science, and National Public Radio.
Title: Toward an Ecological Economy: Creating a Sustainable and Desirable Future
Location: Willard J. Walker Hall, Room 427 - Directions
Sponsors: U of A Applied Sustainability Center and U of A Department of Geosciences
Ecological Economics Roundtable
02/08/2008 - 10:00
Dr. Robert Costanza will lead a roundtable discussion on ecological economics on Friday morning, Feb 8.
Location: U of A Innovation Center, 535 Research Center Blvd., Fayetteville, AR.
Contact info: Call 479 575 5717 for additional information.