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PARTNERS Continued From Page 31 <<<

maintenance crews are going to find that, as they become involved in projects like the one we’re doing at Wolf Pen Gap, there is very little difference in good construc- tion practices and environmentally sound practices.” Simon seconded that premise. “Significantly eroding unpaved roads are costly for counties to maintain and in-

crease erosion and sediment into our drinking water reservoirs and streams,” he said. “Tis becomes a costly maintenance issue not only for the county road crews but also for Arkansas’ drinking water treatment facilities. By building and maintaining unpaved roads using the latest best management practices, counties see cost savings in many areas and our water quality and fisheries improve. “When our unpaved roads erode less, the driving experience is better, the counties spend less in maintenance, our drinking water costs less to treat, and our fisheries are healthier.” Boggs agreed: “Tat’s what’s great about this program,” he said. “We have these

various groups getting together and talking about something that is a problem for all of us, though in some cases for different reasons, and we’ve found something that we believe will help each group solve its problem. “It will help county judges stretch their budgets farther because they won’t have to

have their road crews grade a particular road as often as they would have. It will help Te Nature Conservancy and groups like that to protect the rivers and streams. It will help the Forest Service protect its forests and it will help us keep species off the endangered lists before that causes problems for construction in the first place.” Ultimately, program officials said, the goals of the Arkansas Unpaved Roads Pro-

gram are to:

• Establish dedicated funding sources and mechanisms for distribution of the funds; • Fund safe, efficient and environmentally sound projects for the maintenance of

dirt and gravel roads that have been identified as sources of sediment or dust; • Provide training to road maintenance professionals on techniques of dirt and gravel

road maintenance that minimize negative impacts to water and air quality; and • Conduct demonstrations of new and innovative techniques of dirt and gravel

road construction and maintenance to assist in training of road crews and to more broadly share BMPs.

Te officials said they see a program that will provide a source of funds to start proj- ects, training sessions and demonstrations. Counties will help with funding for projects by matching one-to-one with cash or in-kind contributions and they’ll be eligible to apply for funding after they’ve completed an unpaved roads BMP training workshop. Te program’s board of directors will consider proposals for projects. It will give

preference to projects “in priority watersheds, which are identified by a criteria com- mittee to include endangered species, drinking water sources and other important characteristics,” according to a brochure issued by the group. Program officials said they hope to get the Arkansas Unpaved Road Program af- filiated with the state of Arkansas, with hopes of acquiring state funding to at least establish administration of the groups projects. Te Nature Conservancy hosted group members and about 15 legislators Oct. 6 at the Association of Arkansas Counties office in Little Rock to propose such a plan. Several Unpaved Road Program officials said the meeting “went well” and that they were encouraged by the legislators’ response. “Te program has been very successful because of the great leadership of Judge

Ellison, Judge Avey and the Association of Arkansas Counties and the collaborative style of the many partners working together to develop the program,” Simon said. “It is a classic Arkansas story. When faced with a big challenge, a group of partners come together to develop and implement a plan to address it. Everyone is working positively together and bringing something to the table: be it funding, technical sup- port, policy ideas, etc.”

Anyone wanting more information about the program is encouraged to contact Roger W.

Mangham, director of conservation programs at Te Nature Conservancy of Arkansas. He is at TNC’s Arkansas Field Office, 601 N. University Ave., Little Rock, AR 72205. His email address is or he can be reached by phone at (501) 614-5091.


UNPAVED ROADS Continued From Page 31 <<<

Tose people and other visitors to Polk County that make up our tourism industry represent a substantial part of our economy.”

A 2010 economic impact study by UALR’s Institute

for Economic Advancement estimated the potential loss of tourism to be $58.6 million annually. Ellison said the project has gone well, with construc-

tion crews pouring the foundations for the bridge, which has no center pier, in early October. “We’re waiting on those foundations to cure,” he said,

“and the pre-fabricated bridge will arrive October 17. We will close the road that day for about four or five hours to use a giant crane to install the bridge. Once that’s set, we’ll need to do some dirt work to the road.” November 14 is the estimated date for finishing that phase of the project. It will include raising the road level, relocating some springs away from the road and replacing some rock that will help water run away from the road rather than stand on its surface. Ellison said soil stabilizer can be added to the road after that. When the project is complete, county crews should

not have to grade the road for a year. Ellison said that stretch of CR 61 before improvements might have needed grading three to four times in the same period. He noted that the new road-improvement methods being taught as a part of the Unpaved Roads Program eventually will mean a substantial savings in funds to Polk County. Tose economic savings, he said, are one reason why he believes that the program will be success- ful — as more county officials see what the training for better methods to road and construction crews mean to them economically, more counties will sign on. Scott Simon, state director of Te Nature Conservan-

cy, said his group has been pleased with the prospects of working with other members of the group, especially in connection with its pilot project. “We are all excited about the latest pilot project …

in Polk County,” he said. “Judge Ellison and the county staff are just great to work with.” Jim Boggs, field supervisor of the Arkansas Ecologi-

cal Office for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, based in Conway, said the Wolf Pen Gap bridge project was an excellent choice for a pilot program for the Arkansas Un- paved Roads Program. “It shows what this group can do by working togeth-

er,” he said. “Judge Ellison and his crew are showing what can be done to address the problem of sedimentation in a way that helps his county stretch its maintenance funds, helps the U.S. Forest Service and Te Nature Conservan- cy protect the national forest there and helps us protect a species before it is placed on the endangered list.” Ellison noted that by building a short bypass around the old bridge, the Polk County crews have been able to keep CR 61 open during the bridge replacement project. Te only time the road was scheduled to be closed is the four- to five-hour window on the day the pre-fab bridge is set on its foundation. Te large crane must be located on the bypass as it moves the bridge into place.

— Michael Dougherty COUNTY LINES, FALL 2014

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