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Published July 7, 2004
Town Branch Watershed:
Washington County Seeking EPA Grant To Restore UA Streambank
Project To Serve As Demonstration

By Scott F. Davis, The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE — Washington County officials voted July 6, 2004, to request a $167,250 grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to restore the shoreline of the College Branch of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River on the University of Arkansas campus.

Wayne Blankenship, county grant administrator, told members of the Washington County Quorum Court that U.S. Rep John Boozman, R-3rd District, supports this request and the likelihood of funding is good.

"I think we're probably going to get it," Blankenship said.

The court's Finance Committee unanimously approved a resolution to seek EPA funding for the project that will be managed by Arkansas Audubon, a
nonprofit conservation group. The EPA requires the county to administer the grant, Blankenship said.

The EPA has accepted this proposal for "full consideration," which means that it has cleared the first hurdle toward approval, said Melissa Terry, conservation organizer for Audubon Arkansas.

College Branch is the name recently applied by city mapmakers to the arm of the Town Branch that begins on the southeast slope of Markham Hill upstream from Hotz Park at Hotz Drive and Palmer Avenue and flows through ditches and underground in culverts and finally surfaces near the Carlson Terrace Apartments and flows under Sixth Street east of Razorback Road and into the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River.

Water also flows into the college branch from as far north as Cleveland Street west of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium and from parking lots and lawn areas throughout the athletic complex and the western slope of the main academic and housing portion of the campus. Much of the water on campus was routed underground as buildings and parking lots were constructed.

An additional portion of the water comes from the area of the Fayetteville High School's east campus and athletic facilities and the former site of the Fayetteville Boys and Girls Club on California Boulevard. This small stream passes under Sixth Street and joins the College Branch to form the Town Branch immediately west of the Railroad tracks near Sixth Street.

The combined flow from the heavily paved and developed campus area sends water downhill much faster than when the land was in a natural state, increasing the danger of flooding and the load of silt and pollutants in the water flowing through the Town Branch neighborhood and eventually entering Beaver Lake.

The house nearest the Town Branch on the west side of the bridge on 15th Street between South Dunn Ave. and Van Buren Avenue was flooded by an estimated 18 inches of water before dawn July 3, 2004, and a vehicle parked in the driveway of that same house on 15th Street was being washed toward the Town Branch when the owners found help and managed to stabilize it. Also, the water rose within a foot of the floor of a house at 1210 South Duncan Avenue that same night.

The grant would pay for measures designed to slow stream flow and reduce erosion of the riparian area and shoreline on UA property, as it approaches Sixth Street (U.S. 62 business route near South Garland Avenue), Terry said.

The streambank erosion near Sixth Street is particularly bad because it's eating into the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department's right of way, Terry said.

The project will serve as a demonstration for public and private landowners interested in reducing streambank erosion and controlling stormwater runoff, Terry said.

Terry's organization recently helped secure funding for another project on Town Branch. Steve Filipeck, Stream Team director for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, presented the Town Branch Neighborhood Association $1,500 on June 29.

This money will help the association test water quality on a quarterly basis, produce educational material for the watershed and sponsor public meetings, Terry said.

Scott Davis' story was published in the July 7, 2004, edition of the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas. It was edited for the Web with additional information by Aubrey Shepherd.

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Aubrey James Shepherd
Fayetteville, AR © 2003, 2004, 2005

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