SUMMARY OF ACHIEVEMENTS OF
WETLAND/PRAIRIE/SAVANNA SUBGROUP (W/P/SS)
Joe Neal, Chris Wilson, Aubrey Shepherd, Bob Cross, Bruce Shackleford
The WPSS developed the following general objectives in October of 2008.
1. Identify the environmental resources that are important for the communities to preserve for the future.
2. Complete a map identifying where key environmental areas are and the linkages and hubs to access them.
3. Identify to the best of our abilities “what the community wants” and what ecosystems require.
The W/P/SS developed the following list of potential prairie/wetland/savanna sites in October 2008:
SITE 1: Stonebridge Meadows Golf Course (also known as Goff Farm): Low wet prairie plants on approximately 10 acres next to Course on south side of Hwy.16E.
SITE 2: Lake Fayetteville: North of Environmental Study Center, 30-40 acres of City-owned land.
SITE 3: Wilson Springs/Clabber Creek: Audubon Society owned wet-prairie land (120 acres) southwest of 540 and Hwy 112.
SITE 4: Zion Road: Sweetser owned land south of Zion Road – app. 5 acres.
SITE 5: Woolsey Wet Prairie Sanctuary: 30-acre wetland mitigation site with 70 adjacent acres of prairie and savanna; owned by City of Fayetteville next to the West Side WWTP; could be expanded by another 70 acres as a mitigation bank/natural area.
SITE 6: World Peace Wetland Prairie Park (and adjacent tract) south of Hwy. 16 on Duncan & nearby Pinnacle Foods property.
SITE 7: University of Arkansas Farm on Garland has savanna and grassland fields.
SITE 8: Broyles/Yates Prairie on Woolsey Farm Rd. next to school in Farmington, 40 acres owned by Mr. & Mrs. Carl Yates.
SITE 9: Wedington Unit Forest: Grassland restoration on the west side of Ozark National Forest.
SITE 10: Pieces of prairie grasslands in the South Industrial Park on Armstrong (Combs Park).
SITE 11: South of Hwy. 16 large oak barren (savanna).
Site Evaluation Methodology: The Subgroup developed a W/P/SS Site Characterization Sheet (attached) to be completed to categorize each site. The evaluation criteria included both socioeconomic and ecological issues, and a site categorization strategy to determine each site’s potential for preservation and/or restoration. Site Characterization Sheets were completed for sites 1-8. Due to time limitations, evaluations for sites 9-11 were not completed. The sites were classified into one of the following categories:
Category 1 Site: Site size and location make it a prime candidate for preservation/restoration with minimal expenditure of financial and human resources; site may be protected by federal regulations as a “jurisdictional wetland”; site may provide critical habitat for resident and/or migratory fauna and may be inhabited by rare native flora species; site represents an endangered ecosystem such as a prairie or savanna that has been minimally impacted by anthropogenic activities such as grading, filling, structures, removal of vegetation, and or substantial habitat fragmentation; site is owned and operated by city, county, or state entity, or private individual or group who currently applies an “adaptive management” strategy to effectively preserve, restore, or enhance rare ecosystem features; protection of site will likely have significant community support; protection of site will very likely have high potential to provide a critical wildlife habitat hub or linkage corridor.
Category 2 Site: Site size and location make it a possible candidate for preservation/restoration although requirements for expenditures of financial and human resources may not be optimal on a cost/acre basis; site may be a wetland, but not necessarily protected by federal regulations as a “jurisdictional wetland”; site’s capability to provide critical habitat for resident and/or migratory fauna, and/or native plant species of concern is moderate, questionable, or unknown primarily due to its small size; site may exist as a very small remnant fragment of prairie/wetland/savanna ecosystem; site may exhibit impacts by anthropogenic activities such as grading, filling, structures, removal of vegetation, and/or substantial habitat fragmentation; site is owned and operated by city, county, or state entity, or private individual or group that may not be willing to consider long-term preservation due to land value, planned site use, or lack of interest; site is currently not actively managed (or is minimally managed) with an “adaptive management” strategy to effectively preserve, restore, or enhance rare ecosystem features; protection of site will have questionable or minimal community support, therefore, site’s potential to provide a wildlife habitat hub or linkage corridor is minimal to moderate.
Category 3 Site: Site size and location make it an unlikely candidate for preservation/restoration since a substantial expenditure of financial and human resources would be required; site is not protected by federal regulations as a “jurisdictional wetland”; site does not provide critical habitat for resident and/or migratory fauna and is not inhabited by rare native flora species; site represents only a remnant prairie or wetland that has been substantially impacted by anthropogenic activities such as grading, filling, structures, removal of vegetation, and or substantial habitat fragmentation; site is owned and operated by city, county, or state entity, or private individual or group most likely not willing to actively manage site to effectively preserve, restore, or enhance rare ecosystem features; protection of site will likely have little community support; protection of site will provide little potential to provide even a minimal wildlife habitat hub or linkage corridor.
Insert Blank W/P/SS Site Characterization Sheet as pages 3 and 4
RESULTS OF SITE EVALUATIONS
The site categorization results are as follows:
CATEGORY 1 SITES
SITE 2: Lake Fayetteville: North of Environmental Study Center, 30/40 acres of City-owned land
Existing Status and Management Needs: This site has large stands of native grasses such as little bluestem, big bluestem and Indian grass. It is well drained and no wetlands were observed, however, a small stream runs through the property. Oak/elm/hickory forests surround the grassland openings. Public access is available via paved trails, and it is our understanding that the site has some level of permanent protection. The condition of the site supports habitat for mammals and songbirds. The vegetation succession status appears to indicate that the site is minimally managed. Stands of eastern red cedar, smooth sumac, and blackberry are overtaking the grassland habitat, and it will continue to degrade without more aggressive management. A prescribed burn would serve well to maintain and restore this upland prairie. Bush-hogging and chainsaw cutting of larger woody plants will be needed in some areas. Burning and clearing should be done during the avian non-nesting seasons. It appears that fescue has been planted on the outer edges of the trails. Herbicide applications of sulfosulfuron should be completed in early spring or late fall while the fescue is actively growing and the native plants are dormant. A detailed plant species inventory should be conducted twice annually; once in May and again in October to fully evaluate the presence of rare species.
SITE 3: Wilson Springs: Clabber Creek Wet Prairie - Audubon Society owned 120 acres
Existing Status and Management Needs: This site exhibits prairie mounds (pimples) with inclusions of small scattered wetland areas in depressions between the mounds. This diversity in microtopography provides diversity in hydrology that, in turn, provides the potential to support a very diverse plant community.
However, due to little vegetation management, the site is losing its prairie character and former grasslands are being replaced with thickets of brushy shrubs and trees. This is exacerbated by the fact that invasive species such as sericea lespedeza and tall fescue continue to outcompete the native prairie forbs and grasses. This increases the potential for the loss of habitat for prairie birds and mammals.
The site is believed by local ornithologists to support the only known population of Henslow's Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii) in northwestern Arkansas. Mike Mlodinow of Fayetteville discovered this rare and inconspicuous bird at the site, in 2001. This species is declining over most of its range, and has been found in Arkansas in the nesting season on only a few prairies. The only record in more than a decade is from a protected prairie south of the Arkansas River. Of particular concern is that some studies have suggested that Henslow’s does not tolerate areas having high densities of woody vegetation.
Clabber Creek flows across the property, providing habitat for various species of fish, amphibians, and birds. This is the lowermost portion of Clabber Creek that is inhabited by the Arkansas darter (Etheostoma cragini) a small fish (2 to 3 inches long). The Arkansas darter has been designated as an Arkansas Species of Concern by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, listed as a fish of Special Concern by the American Fisheries Society, and is a Candidate Species for federal listing as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The site is in need of an achievable vegetation management program that includes prescribed burning, bush-hogging and herbicide applications to control the growth of woody and invasive non-native plant density. A detailed plant species inventory is recommended.
Pics available from Joe Neal??