During the summer of 2009, The Nature Conservancy completed a project to stabilize a stream bank on the Upper Little Red River that was losing tons of sediment to erosion every year. [View slideshow.] Excess sediment within a stream can fill in gravel beds, choking out insects, larvae and small fish at the bottom of the food chain, which, in turn, affects game fish near the top of the food chain.
At the Middle Fork of the Little Red River in Van Buren County, the Conservancy stabilized 375 feet of stream bank that had eroded as much as 16 feet in the past year, dumping some 850 tons of sediment into the river. The project is on private land enrolled in a multi-agency program designed to provide habitat protection for the endangered speckled pocketbook mussel, which is found only within the watershed of the Little Red River. Funding was provided by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Private Stewardship Grant, which was matched in part by the Conservancy in Arkansas. Other partners in the project include the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Riggs Caterpillar of Arkansas.
“This project will benefit people as well,” said Ethan Inlander, the Conservancy’s Ozark Rivers Program Director. “The landowner at the site benefited from improved roads that were needed for us to bring in the heavy equipment we used to complete the project. The loss of their land has also hopefully been stemmed. The Little Red River flows into Greers Ferry Lake, which provides drinking water for dozens of communities, and attracts lake recreation and fishing that help support the local economy.”