Monday, September 10, 2012

Learn and Protect Little Rock's Creeks

Water quality is important to both wildlife and humans.  As I mentioned here and here, streams and their floodplains are a logical place to build trails due to their scenic value and the fact that development shouldn't take place in a floodplain.  Preserving or establishing wide buffers of mature vegetation along all creeks and rivers is a good method for protecting water quality, since that vegetation helps slow erosion, filter out pollutants, and regulate water temperature.  Since it is more attractive and provides more shade than mowed grass or concrete, this mature vegetation has the added benefit of being more fun to hike, bike, or float under.

Little Rock and many other communities in our state haven't done a great job of protecting local creeks from development, but you can help change that by becoming aware of your local streams and watersheds and advocating for their protection and pointing to the fact that protected waterways with trails along them have positive health, economic, and environmental impacts on a community.

Find a creek near you on the map below.  Does it have any trails along it?  Are the streambanks lined with large trees?  Did I miss your local creek?  Tell me about it in the comments below!

More information on the Fourche Creek Watershed and Little Rock's creeks can be found at:
with more maps at:

I studied Fourche Creek and its tributaries for several years as part of an EPA watershed grant.  We found the largest water quality issues to be:

1.  Turbidity - Dirt and sediment from poorly controlled construction sites gets washed into streams.  Streambank erosion caused by increases in impervious surfaces and clearing of bank vegetation also increases turbidity.  Fourche Creek is now listed on the EPA's 303(d) list of impaired waterbodies thanks to water quality testing we performed.

2.  Floatable Trash - The most visible problem facing Little Rock's streams is trash.  Cups, balls, bottles, and all sorts of plastic, styrofoam, and glass containers end up in the creek after being littered somewhere in the city.  Wind and rain push these items from roads and yards into the stormsewer system and our creeks.

3.  Metals - Parking lot runoff, paint and other liquids dumped down stormdrains, and appliances and other metal objects dumped in streams contribute to high levels of various toxic metals in our local waterways.

4.  Sewage - Raw sewage enters our creeks through leaking, poorly monitored, private sewer lines and also through stormsewer overflows during heavy rain events.

I have lots of presentations I put together on Fourche Creek that discuss these problems and potential solutions, if you would like to see/use them, feel free to contact me.

Map of Major Little Rock Creeks.  Be sure to zoom in and click on creeks for names or use the link below to open a larger map where you can search for your address.

View Little Rock Creeks in a larger map

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