V+ Development Solutions, a division of Southwestern Energy Company (SWN), has announced that SWN has offered a $900,000 commitment to fund Phase I of the Archey Fork restoration project led by The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas.
“In April 2012, SWN announced the creation of V+ Development Solutions with the mission of engaging stakeholders to develop innovations and improvements that positively impact environmental stewardship, the economy and local communities. As part of this initiative, SWN approached The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas to help in identifying potential partnership projects that would benefit residents of the Fayetteville Shale,” Mark Boling, president, V+ Development Solutions said. “We are proud to join in the effort to restore the Archey Fork to a condition that will improve habitat for a variety of rare aquatic species, protect and improve water quality in Greers Ferry Lake, and improve recreational opportunities in the area.”
The Conservancy has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the City of Clinton to restore a 3.2 mile stretch of the Upper Little Red River at the confluence of the South Fork and Archey Fork that was straightened and widened in the mid-1980s for flood control.The river is threatened by sediment from decades of eroding river banks, run-off from rural roads and the clearing of riparian forest. This degradation of the river is contributing sediment into Greers Ferry Lake which provides drinking water for more than 200,000 as well as significant economic benefits through hydropower and recreational opportunities.
“Water quality of both the Little Red River and Greers Ferry Lake is important for the economic vitality of Clinton and the region,” said Scott Simon, director, The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas. “With SWN’s generous contribution we are one step closer to protecting and improving these precious resources.”
The Conservancy has developed a large-scale restoration design-and-build strategy based on the science of natural channel design. The project will require channel shaping and construction of in-channel rock structures to be completed in three phases, with the goal of reducing stream bank erosion, restoring channel stability, improving aquatic habitat and improving water quality. Phases I and II will restore approximately one mile of Archey Fork near Clinton, and Phase III will improve nearly two miles of the South Fork. Construction is scheduled to begin Summer 2013.