Category Archives: Water Policy

Donate Old Christmas Trees to Provide Fish Cover

Okay, I said I’ll be on vacation until January 3, but I just had to share this news.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) wants your old Christmas trees to provide underwater cover for fish. You can drop off trees at 21 sites across the state until January 23.

AGFC community fisheries biologist Clifton Jackson says that studies have shown that fish use structure for cover. “These trees are some of the best natural forms of underwater structure. Crappie, bass, bluegills and other fish will often use the tress to hide in and around,” Jackson said.

The Christmas trees provide cheap but high-quality underwater structures. They are easy to place in ponds and lakes, and they last for several years, Jackson said.

“More importantly, their limbs offer something to fish of all shapes and sizes,” he explained.

Trees can be dropped off at the following locations:

  • Lake Hamilton – Andrew Hulsey State Fish Hatchery Access Area.
  • Lake Chicot – Connerly Bayou Access Area.
  • Camden – Commission regional office on Ben Lane. Bragg Lake and Upper Jack’s Landing on Upper White Oak Lake.
  • Magnolia – Columbia County Road Department yard on Arkansas 371.
  • El Dorado – City recycling center drop-offs: one behind Arby’s and one on South Jackson.
  • Smackover – Recycling drop-off center (these will be transported to El Dorado).
  • Millwood Lake – Cottonshed and White Cliffs recreation areas and the Millwood State Park ramp on the point.
  • Dierks Lake – Jefferson Ridge South Recreation Area.
  • De Queen Lake – Any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp.
  • Gillham Lake – Any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp.
  • Lake Greeson – New Cowhide Cove and Self Creek Recreation Areas.
  • Arkansas River – Verizon Access underneath the Interstate 30 bridge in North Little Rock.
  • Greers Ferry Lake – Sandy Beach (Heber Springs), Devils Fork Recreation Area and Choctaw Recreation Area (Choctaw-Clinton).
  • Dardanelle Lake – Dwight Mission Access, Arkansas 64/ Piney Access, Cabin Creek Slough Access.
  • Jack Nolen Lake – Largest access ramp on riprap near ramp.
  • Sugar Loaf Lake – Sugar Loaf Access Area near ramps.
  • Lake Conway – Lawrence Landing Access.
  • Harris Brake Lake – Chittman Hill Access.
  • Lake Overcup – Lake Overcup Landing.
  • Lake Barnett – Reed Access.
  • Jonesboro – Craighead Forest Park Lake boat ramp.

So, give your Christmas trees a second life! Donate to Arkansas Game and Fish Commission!

Circuit Court Reverses Self, Orders SWEPCO to Halt Work on Wetlands

The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis reversed itself Monday and ordered Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) to stop working on 8 acres of wetlands near the company’s $2.1 billion coal-fired power plant in Hempstead County.

In October, U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson issued an injunction halting work on the 8 acres where SWEPCO received a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit to discharge fill material into a wetland area. The Corps of Engineers issued a permit after it found that the work would have no significant impact on the environment in the area (called FONSI, or Finding of No Significant Impact).

The Sierra Club, Audubon Arkansas, National Audubon Society, and several nearby residents sued the Corps in February, claiming that the Corps did not conduct an environmental impact study (EIS) before issuing the permit. The Hempstead County Hunting Club, which owns land near the plant, also sued the electric utility, citing violations of federal Endangered Species Act.

On November 24, a day before Thanksgiving, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Wilson’s injnction in a one-sentence order, allowing SWEPCO to continue its work in the area. The order contained no explanation for the reversal and was signed by a clerk with the Circuit Court but not by any judge.

Frustrated, Wilson recused from the case on December 8, stating “my time would be better spent working on other cases.”

Yesterday, three Circuit Court judges reversed the November 24 order, reinstating Wilson’s injunction and halting SWEPCO’s work in the 8-acre area. Work continues on other sections of the plant. The plant, known as the John W. Turk Jr. Power Plant, is about 45 percent completed.

No judge has been appointed yet to replace Wilson in the case.

Tuesday To-Do: Lignite Meeting in Hampton

Germany mines lignite, as is shown in this photo of lignite strip mining. Photo courtesy of About.com.Geology.

State Representative Garry Smith (D-Camden), and the Natural Resources Research Center at Southern Arkansas University have scheduled a series of meetings discuss the potential for lignite mining in southern Arkansas.

The Arkansas Geological Survey has estimated that southern Arkansas sits atop most of the state’s 9 billion tons of lignite, a lowest-grade coal variety that can be used as a fuel source for power plants. Controversies surround lignite due to much higher carbon dioxide emissions from lignite-burning power plants than those that burn higher-grade coal. The resource has not been commercially developed on a large scale in Arkansas. Environmentalists are concerned because of strip mining involved with the extraction of lignite.

Tonight’s meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Calhoun County Courthouse in Hampton.

More information may be obtained by calling Jerry Langley, assistant to the president for special projects at Southern Arkansas University, at (870) 235-5090.

Monday To-Do: Lignite Meeting in Magnolia

Germany mines lignite, as is shown in this photo of lignite strip mining. Photo courtesy of About.com.Geology.

State Representative Garry Smith (D-Camden), and the Natural Resources Research Center at Southern Arkansas University have scheduled a series of meetings discuss the potential for lignite mining in southern Arkansas.

The Arkansas Geological Survey has estimated that southern Arkansas sits atop most of the state’s 9 billion tons of lignite, a lowest-grade coal variety that can be used as a fuel source for power plants. Controversies surround lignite due to much higher carbon dioxide emissions from lignite-burning power plants than those that burn higher-grade coal. The resource has not been commercially developed on a large scale in Arkansas. Environmentalists are concerned because of strip mining involved with the extraction of lignite.

Tonight’s meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Donald W. Reynolds Campus and Community Center Grand Hall at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia.

More information may be obtained by calling Jerry Langley, assistant to the president for special projects at Southern Arkansas University, at (870) 235-5090.

SAU Schedules Lignite Meetings around the State

Germany mines lignite, as is shown in this photo of lignite strip mining. Photo courtesy of About.com.Geology.

State Representative Garry Smith (D-Camden), and the Natural Resources Research Center at Southern Arkansas University have scheduled a series of meetings discuss the potential for lignite mining in southern Arkansas.

The Arkansas Geological Survey has estimated that southern Arkansas sits atop most of the state’s 9 billion tons of lignite, a lowest-grade coal variety that can be used as a fuel source for power plants. Controversies surround lignite due to much higher carbon dioxide emissions from lignite-burning power plants than those that burn higher-grade coal. The resource has not been commercially developed on a large scale in Arkansas. Environmentalists are concerned because of strip mining involved with the extraction of lignite.

The first meeting was held last night at the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope Student Center. Additional meetings will be held Monday at the Donald W. Reynolds Campus and Community Center Grand Hall at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia; Tuesday at the Calhoun County Courthouse in Hampton; and Jan. 6 at the Benton Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Center in Benton. All meetings will begin at 6 p.m.

More information may be obtained by calling Jerry Langley, assistant to the president for special projects at Southern Arkansas University, at (870) 235-5090.

Book Review – Clean Water: An Introduction to Water Quality and Water Pollution Control

I’ve been thinking a lot about water lately. My work recently added water to the list of policy issues that I work on, so I’ve been reading up on it. One of the first books that I read, as a brand new water advocate, is a book called Clean Water: An Introduction to Water Quality and Water Pollution Control. Written by Kenneth Vigil, Clean Water is a great book for anyone concerned about this precious resource who wants to become better informed. In straightforward language, Vigil provides a comprehensive introduction to the many scientific, regulatory, cultural, and geographic issues associated with water quality and water pollution control. He also explains the broader approach of watershed management and suggests ways for citizens to apply what they have learned about clean water at home and in the community.

The book may be too basic for those with more advanced water knowledge, but if you are new to the water field, it’s an informative book. Check it out!

The Story of Bottled Water

Annie Leonard does it again, this time with bottled water!

I can’t begin to tell you how much I dislike bottled water. Sure, there are times when they are convenient or even necessary. But, other than in very rare occasions when I have no choice but to drink bottled water, I stay away from them.

Arkansas is blessed with clean drinking water. Central Arkansas is especially fortunate to have such clean and tasty drinking water. Why would I pay more money to drink water that may be less safe? Why would I pay to have more garbage at home?

I say we ditch bottled water and drink tap in our reusable water bottles. Now, can we toast to that?