Sunday, August 30, 2009

Why is no one doing a study such as the one below to determine relationship of seasonal wetland and karst geology of Northwest Arkansas?

The Ecological Role of the Karst Wetlands of Southern Florida in Relation to System Restoration
By William F. Loftus1, Maria Cristina Bruno2, Kevin J. Cunningham3, Sue Perry2, and Joel C. Trexler4
1 U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Everglades National Park. Homestead, Florida 33034.
2 South Florida Natural Resources Center, Everglades National Park. Homestead, Florida 33034.
3 U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Division, Miami Subdistrict, Miami, Florida 33178.
4 Florida International University, University Park, Miami, Florida 33199

Download PDF 2.87 MB
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<--Return to Table of Contents
With the recent funding of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), the largest ecosystem restoration program ever attempted, there is a pressing need to be able to detect changes in natural habitats as a result of restoration actions. Human activities, particularly the construction of canals and levees that can either drain or flood wetlands, have affected the natural variability of environmental conditions (Gunderson and Loftus 1993). CERP intends to restore natural hydropatterns to areas that have been damaged by water management. Baseline data on constituent aquatic communities and their ecology are needed before, during, and after the restoration activities commence.
Freshwater fishes and invertebrates are important ecosystem components in the Everglades/Big Cypress system. They operate at several trophic levels in the wetlands, from primary consumers of plant material and detritus to carnivores and scavengers. Factors that influence fish and invertebrate numbers, biomass, and composition therefore affect energy flow through the wetlands. The ecology and life histories of these animals are intimately tied to the hydrology of the wetlands, which is determined mainly by rainfall, but increasingly by water-management practices. Because of the hydrological changes wrought by drainage and impoundment, and the loss of spatial extent and functioning of former wetlands to development (Gunderson and Loftus 1993), there is little doubt that standing crops and overall numbers have declined. Changes to the original ecosystem have also altered the timing and the areas of prey availability to predators. Non-native fishes have colonized natural and disturbed habitats during the past three decades. Non-native fishes have affected native animals through predation, nest-site competition, and habitat disturbance (Loftus 1988) and may divert food-web energy into biomass unavailable to top-level predators.
Aquatic animals in southern Florida wetlands have a variety of ways to cope with environmental variability. These include movements to find refuge from drying habitats in winter and spring, and dispersal away from those refuges with the onset of the wet season (Kushlan 1974, Loftus and Kushlan 1987). This pattern of movements among habitats with fluctuating water depths is common to seasonal wetlands in the tropics (Lowe-McConnell 1987, Machado-Allison 1993). The major natural refuge habitat most-studied by scientists in southern Florida is the alligator hole (Craighead 1968, Kushlan 1974, Nelson and Loftus 1996). Canals and ditches offer a relatively recent but spatially extensive form of artificial refuge for aquatic animals on the landscape (Loftus and Kushlan 1987). In this study, we are studying the function of other types of aquatic refuges in the Everglades.
The Rocky Glades, or Rockland, habitat is a karstic wetland unique to Everglades National Park (ENP) in southern Florida (Figure 1), although similar habitats exist elsewhere in Yucatan, Cuba, and the Bahamas. Approximately half of the original area of this habitat occurs outside of ENP where agricultural and urban development has forever altered its geological structure and ecological function. This region is a high priority for restoration in CERP because it is the largest remnant, short-hydroperiod wetland in the eastern Everglades. That habitat has been disproportionately lost from the ecosystem. Unfortunately, the habitat remaining in ENP has been degraded by water management (Loftus et al. 1992).

Figure 1. Locations of the study sites within the Rocky Glades and Atlantic Coastal Ridge in southern Florida. The numbers indicate the drift-fence arrays on the main park road, and the stars on the coastal ridge are the well sites with Miami cave crayfish.
The highly eroded karst structure of the Rocky Glades appears to be responsible for the persistence of aquatic-animal communities by offering dry-season refuge in thousands of solution holes of varying depths, (Loftus et al. 1992). Their work was the first to indicate a tight relationship among the biological, geological, and hydrologic components of this region. Loftus et al. (1992) also found evidence that aquatic animals disperse, feed, and reproduce on the wetland surface during the short flooding period, then retreat below ground for periods of months to years. They also reported that several introduced species, particularly the pike killifish (Belonesox belizanus), walking catfish (Clarias batrachus), Mayan cichlid (Cichlasoma urophthalmus), and black acara (Cichlasoma bimaculatum) were common in the Rocky Glades (Loftus et al. 1992). Unfortunately, their study was interrupted by Hurricane Andrew and not continued.
In this paper, we report the rationale and results of the first year of a new study in which the primary goal is to define the interactions of the aquatic-animal community with the geologic structure and hydrologic conditions of the Rocky Glades. We are addressing questions that have arisen from past work there. How do composition, size-structure, and recruitment of aquatic animals change during the flooding period? Are the dispersal patterns of animals related to water flow? Are the animals dispersing from the main sloughs to recolonize the Rocky Glades, or is the Rocky Glades a source of animal colonists for the sloughs? Do roadways act as barriers to movement? The objectives of this study segment are:
• Collect baseline ecological data on the epigean aquatic communities in the karst landscape of the Rocky Glades.

• Quantify the direction and degree of dispersal by fishes and invertebrates during the wet season.

• Document the seasonal changes in species composition, size structure, and reproductive patterns of animals on the wetland surface.

• Survey the topography of representative areas of the Rocky Glades, particularly around the sampling sites, to provide depth-distribution data for the simulation model of the region.

• Develop a visual survey method for sampling fish communities in open, rugged terrain to follow community dynamics in the Rocky Glades in the wet season.

• Identify the extent of near-surface voids.
The Atlantic Coastal Ridge is another area affected by urbanization and changing hydrologic management (Figure 1). Aquatic habitats, such as the transverse glades that cut through the Ridge, have been replaced by canals and will not be restored. Ground-water habitats and animal communities may have been less affected. As in karst areas elsewhere, deeper geological formations (>5 m) beneath the Rocky Glades and the Atlantic Coastal Ridge have voids of various dimensions known to house truly subterranean aquatic species (Radice and Loftus 1995, Bruno et al., this volume). These include the Miami Cave Crayfish (Procambarus milleri), known only from a few wells in southern Florida (Hobbs 1971). The composition, distribution, and abundance of other hypogean animals are poorly known. Ground-water withdrawal and saltwater intrusion (Leach et al. 1972), limestone mining, and pollution may threaten these communities before they have been fully catalogued. Elsewhere in the world, such communities are known to be very sensitive to changes in their delicately balanced physical environment. The second goal of this project is to identify the composition, distribution by depth and space, and ecological relations of this subterranean fauna. The objectives of the second study element include:
• Develop effective traps to capture invertebrates and possibly fishes from subterranean habitats.

• Inventory hypogean communities and relate the composition and distribution to environmental factors.

• Collect life-history data for the Miami cave crayfish from a large captive population.
This first project year has been a pilot study to test designs and methods. The study is divided into two elements with several components each.
Element 1: In the Rocky Glades, we selected four sites along the ENP main road (Figure 1) to test the use of drift-fence arrays to describe directional animal dispersal and community successional patterns in the wet season. The four X-shaped arrays had 12-m wings made of black plastic ground cloth (Figure 2) to direct animals into one of 3 traps that faced east, north, and west, based on the direction that they were moving (Figure 2). The road shoulder formed a barrier to the south of each array. The 3-mm mesh minnow traps were fished overnight for 24 h to provide data on fish relative abundances, movements, and catch per unit effort (CPUE).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Green Infrastructure CITY committee to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday September 17, 2009

Reports: Land Use Planning and Green Infrastructure Committee --Fayetteville Forward


HI ALL---Thanks to all who came to our last meeting, and I hope everyone interested in green infrastructure will be able to come to the Sept. gathering on the 17th. (PLEASE NOTE: This is a different date than what we set at our last meeting. Space was not available on our first date choice.) Harriet Jansma and Dot Neely will chair the Sept. meeting because I'm going to be out of town so please help them help our committee make some progress. Dot has again done her amazing recording of minutes for our Aug. 13 meeting--see below. Thank you so much, Dot. After the minutes, please find a letter from John Pennington summarizing topics needing research in our chosen focus area of
John works for the Washington County Cooperative Extension Service and is heading up a study of our local Clear Creek watershed . That work can work as a model for studying the needs in all our watersheds and therefore a great outline of how we can plug into the needed background for tackling riparian protection. By protecting waterways, we set the stage for connectivity which is key to green infrastructure success. Please contact John if you have specific areas of interest or expertise and are willing to help. Although a number of people believe riparian protection is vital and are learning what "riparian" means ("a $5.00 word for streambank"), we need many people to take the parts of this issue in order to make a whole infrastructure plan a reality.
As you will see, our focus on the riparian protection issue leads to our need for economic studies illustrating the values and costs of land use planning and green infrastructure so we very much need to have everyone interested in the economics of green infrastructure to be working alongside the policy wonks. REMEMBER: If we can't justify our recommendations economically, our chances of seeing them become reality are not good.
Please read these minutes, etc. and plug into one of these activities or needs as best fits your interests, passions, etc.
Below John's letter is an email from Julie McQuade, who works for the city helping coordinate various efforts, the Fayetteville Forward project among them. This is just information which may be helpful to you. Julie says WE NEED TO KEEP TRACK OF OUR VOLUNTEER HOURS FOR HER REPORTING REQUIREMENTS !!!! COULD YOU PLEASE ESTIMATE YOUR TIME SPENT SO FAR ON OUR COMMITTEE WORK AND SEND TO HER, AND ALSO CONTINUE TO KEEP TRACK IN THE FUTURE!!
Summary Minutes of August 13, 2009 FFEAC LUGI Group Meeting p. 1 of 3

ATTENDEES: Fran Alexander/Chair FFEAC LUGI Comm, Dot Neely/FNHA-GIPP/FFEAC, Bob Caulk/FHNA, Pete Heinzelmann/FNHA, Harriet Jansma/FNHA, John Pennington/CEA-Agri, James Gibson, Sarah Lewis/Fvl Alderman, Connie Edmonston/Fvl Pks & Trails, Greg Howe/Fvl Urban Forester, Frank Sharp, Paul Justis, Aubrey Shepherd, Dave Jurgens/Fvl Water-Wastewater Director, Peg Konert/FFEAC, Katie Teague/WaCo Ext Office, Daniel Schaap,
Terry Eastin


Provide economic metrics/rationale/justification* for creation/implementation of City of Fayetteville Governmental and Planning Department policies which establish/promote/support/maintain Green Infrastructure Planning (GIP) and an Enduring Green Network at various levels of scale (to be defined/specified).


Determine ways in which Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association (FNHA) Green Infrastructure Planning Project (GIPP) recommendations overlap or intersect with current or proposed City of Fayetteville policies.

Note that GI can be viewed more broadly than as outlined in FNHA GIPP.


Watersheds – Include Hillsides, Riparian Zones, Gray & Green Infrastructures, City/Urban & County/Rural areas


1. Formulate a GI/Enduring Green Network Plan (EGN) which identifies natural/green space Cores/Hubs/Corridors
2. Create tools to assemble and maintain GI/EG Network once it is defined (e.g. Conservation Easements, Guidelines for City Growth and Development)
3. Generate Policies and Ordinances for building the GI and make all development part of EGN – The Riparian Ordinance is a good tool to begin building of an EGN. Streams make good corridors and protection of stream ecology is a good step toward protecting and establishing EGN

GI RATIONALE CATEGORIES – Economic, Environmental Quality, Social Justice, Quality of Life


1. Conservation Easements – Tax Write-Offs for conserving/preserving land (local e.g. Frank Sharp’s Conservation Easement agreement with City of Fayetteville, Charles J. Finger Park, Mt. Sequoyah Woods)
2. Value &/or increased effectiveness added to City management plans – (e.g. 1980 Green Space Policy, White River Restoration, Green Water District, Storm Water Initiatives)
3. See economics of GI in other cities/areas - Austin, Seattle, Portland, Chesapeake Bay
4. Review work of Terry Whaley/Ozarks Greenways Executive Director (, “GREAT RIVERS GREENWAYS” ( & Mississippi River Trail (

Summary Minutes of August 13, 2009 FFEAC LUGI Group Meeting p. 2 of 3

1. White River Restoration in 1980s – Dramatic improvement in water quality
2. Beaver Water “Green Water District” recently established to mitigate impact on Beaver Lake through minimizing and controlling septic system failures, protecting watershed, reducing nutrient pollution, creating Storm Water initiatives
3. Fayetteville Storm Water (StW) Facility proposed - Feasibility study with Sarah Wrede/Fvl Storm Water Engineer in progress
4. Review other cities/areas approaches to StW Mgmt- Austin, Seattle, Portland, Chesapeake Bay

· Fayetteville has the most forward looking environmental plan of any of the area municipalities
· The Fayetteville City Administration and Staff acknowledge, refer to, and press for, but cannot enforce compliance with recommendations for adherence to alternative and environmentally progressive Green Infrastructure (GI) practices
· Incentives that demonstrate cost savings or profits that GI could provide, in contrast to cost/benefits of Standard Systems (e.g. curb & gutter storm water infrastructure) are needed to make the case for generation of GI policies, because the City of Fayetteville has Standard Systems on budget and in place

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Leased riparian areas to be restored to protect Illinois watershed

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

State, Federal Government To Lease Land To Protect River

By Doug Thompson
ROGERS — More than 20 square miles of land along the Illinois River and its tributaries will be planted with trees, native grasses and other plants under a project launched Tuesday.

The program's goal is to stop 10,000 tons a year of pollutants and sediment from getting into the river, state and federal organizers said. The 15,000-acre, $30 million program will be the largest of its type in Arkansas, by far, said Randy Young, director of the state Natural Resources Commission.
"Northwest Arkansas, growing economic gem that it is, is also cognizant of the need to protect our natural resources," said Gov. Mike Beebe. The governor publicly thanked the Walton Family Foundation for a $1 million contribution to the project.

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program is voluntary, organizers said. Landowners can apply to sign 15-year contracts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their plots of land along the river and streams.

Cropland and poor quality pastures are sought under the $30 million project. Those lands will be planted with native plants to stem erosion and provide food and shelter to wildlife, organizers said. The contracts will pay an estimated average of $85 per acre annually with a starting bonus amounting to as much as $350 an acre.

"I'm very interested. I'd sign up today if the forms were here," said dairy farmer Bill Haak of Gentry. "This is very farmer friendly and, if you look at the details, you can see that the people who wrote this up have the insight into what will make it work."

"I have grandkids," Haak said when asked why he was interested. "You need another reason than that? Well, this is a chance for farmers to step up to the plate and help preserve water quality."

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is suing Arkansas poultry companies in federal court over pollution in the Illinois River. The case is scheduled for trial Sept. 21.

"We hope this project will help prevent pollution from reaching the waters of the Illinois and its tributaries and support these types of efforts in both states," Edmondson said in a prepared statement about Tuesday's announcement.

The conservation program in Arkansas will match up with a similar one in Oklahoma. The two programs will cover the entire Illinois River watershed, Young said.

Of the $30 million, $24 million will come from a federal appropriation sought and obtained largely through the efforts of 3rd District Rep. John Boozman, R-Rogers, organizers said. Most of the rest will come from a $1.5 million appropriation from the state and in-kind services provided by the state, such as planning for each plot's project by the state Game and Fish Department and other agencies and water quality monitoring by the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Contact Information
Watershed Leases

Those interested in the project can call the Washington County office of the federal Farm Service Agency, 479-521-4520, or the Benton County office, 479-273-2622. Information is also available at

Video from the Fayetteville National Cemetery with Washington County Livestock Auction barn in the background

Please go to
to see some of today's photos online. My picasa gigabite is full!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fayetteville Forward green-infrastructure committee to meet at 7 p.m. in Room 111 of City Hall

R: Land Use Planning & Green Infrastructure Committee

Thursday, Aug. 13
7 p.m. Room 111, City Hall

This is your reminder that we will be meeting again this Thursday to both review what we accomplished last month (see the recent committee/report work below--in case you didn't open these in July when sent)
AND formulating what we want to accomplish in each group. I hope you have all been researching in your areas of interest or contemplating how you would like to contribute to formalizing the avenues to establishing a green infrastructure for Fayetteville.
In the Policy realm, for example, I talked last week with a few people from different departments in the city and learned that a riparian ordinance is being developed, but it's not ready for "prime time" yet. When it is, they said our committee would definitely be asked for input and help in putting it into shape. This ordinance will be very important in addressing water quality issues. As most of you may know, Alderman Sarah Lewis has been working on a Low Impact Development ordinance, which ties directly into watershed issues as well. The current city Hillside Ordinance needs close examination for strengths and weaknesses, especially in regard to watershed integrity, and this is a very important role this sub-committee could play in green infrastructure enhancement. And, of course, if we have committee members who can work to formulate an effort for Transfer of Development Rights legislation, passage of this enabling law would make green infrastructure linking and corridor/hub/core acquisitions much more feasible.
And, the needed policies that link to the work of the Green Infrastructure:Identification and Definition sub-committee need to be discussed at this August meeting.
The economic impacts, advantages or disadvantages, of local green infrastructure (or the lack thereof) need to be discussed and avenues determined as to how to evaluate these impacts.
We have a lot to do! And it's all very important work!
Here are a few links people have sent to me since our last meeting. Please help our efforts by familiarizing yourself with some of this material and adding to it:

Monday, August 3, 2009

Green Faith Alliance of Central Arkansas to meet by telephone with like-minded or curious Northwest Arkansas residents at UA business school

The Green Faith Alliance of Central Arkansas will meet with us by
telephone on Monday, August 3, at 5:30 pm. Our meeting will be held in
Willard J. Walker Hall, room 546 (fifth floor) on the Business School Campus area at the
University. Attached are directions (from I-540) to the Harmon
parking garage, which is directly across from Walker Hall. The cost
to park there is about $3 for an hour.
As you may recall from my previous email, we talked briefly about the
possibility of having a Green Faith Alliance of Arkansas (dropping the
word “central”) instead of forming a second group called Green Faith
Alliance of Northwest Arkansas. This way, there would be one group,
instead of two, and we might accomplish more by working together than
we can separately.
I am currently on vacation in Georgia. Vivian Hill from St. Paul’s
will be your host for this meeting.
Please RSVP accept or regret to Vivian at as
soon as you can.
We hope that you will be able to join us for this meeting. Again, the
details are:
· Monday, August 3rd
5:30 pm
Willard J Walker Hall, Room 546, U of A Campus
Many thanks to you and thanks for your ministry for the planet that we share.
Michele Halsell

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Carbon Caps Task Force meeting at 1:30 p.m. today at the OMNI Center office downstairs at 902 W. Maple

Sunday August 2
1:30 pm
Carbon Caps Task Force
Re-Organizing Meeting
OMNI office
United Campus Ministries 902 W. Maple (Maple Street & Storer Avenue)
Several interesting options for action are emerging. Come find out how you can plug in, because you are needed. And meet OMNI's new environmental organizer, Ryan Bancroft. And Robert McAfee will bring lemon cake. You don't want to miss this meeting.
Gladys Tiffany
Omni Center for Peace, Justice & Ecology
Fayetteville, Arkansas USA
479-973-9049 --