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Environment notebook

Wetland projects to receive $13.9M

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service will spend about $13.9 million on wetland restoration projects with a presence in Arkansas, according to a news release.

About $6.6 million will be set aside for the state, and another $7.3 million will be spent on three watershed projects.

Landowners interested in surrendering their land to the Wetland Reserve Easement program have until Jan. 26 to apply to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The program would buy the land, which would then be protected from development. Landowners can choose from a 30-year easement or a permanent one.

Watershed projects are also a part of the program.

The Cache River Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program in Monroe, Prairie and Woodruff counties would restore forest, reducing pollution from indirect sources and improving water quality in the Cache and White rivers, according to the release.

The Batture Lands Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program in Chicot, Crittenden, Desha, Lee, Mississippi and Phillips counties would focus on sustainability in land and water management.

A third watershed project, the Tri State Conservation Coordination Committee Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program, would restore forests in parts of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

State to get money to scan toxic sites

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality will receive $71,430 to examine places across the state that could be or currently are Superfund sites, according to the news release from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is bequeathing the funds.

The Superfund program was created in 1980 to address closed and abandoned contaminated sites, according to the EPA.

Arkansas has 17 sites, including Cedar Chemical in Helena-West Helena that has yet to be remediated. Nationally, the EPA has identified 1,852 Superfunds.

EPA spokesman Jennah Durant said she believed the funds had not been appropriated for anything specific. Questions about how the money would be used were not answered by Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality spokesmen last week.

Environmental permits are topic

The Arkansas Economic Developers and Chamber Executives will hold a workshop on environmental permits.

The workshop intends to explain "environmental requirements and pitfalls to avoid for new and expanded industries," according to its agenda. It will go over permitting, environmental assessments, wetlands and solid and hazardous wastes, among other things.

It will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday at the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality headquarters at 5301 Northshore Drive in North Little Rock.

The workshop is $30 for members and $50 for nonmembers and is co-hosted with the department, FTN Associates and ECCI (Engineering, Compliance and Construction Inc.).

Audubon Society honors bird treaty

This year is the Year of the (Arkansas) Bird, according to an announcement from Audubon Arkansas.

The organization, along with the national Audubon Society and other conservation groups, will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act between the United States and Canada with a series of events throughout 2018.

The agreement prohibits hunting, capturing, killing or selling migratory birds without specific permission.

The group will host bird counts and a Fourche Creek cleanup and sell and plant native plants, among other things.

Woodland project to get USDA funds

Arkansas and Oklahoma will receive $1,575,000 in funding for the final year of the states' Woodland Restoration project in the Ozark-St. Francis and Ouachita national forests, according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The project, which seeks to reduce feral hog populations near water bodies, began in 2016 with $668,750 from the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Feral hogs can pose a risk to water quality.

In 2018, the states will receive $225,000 from the U.S. Forest Service and $1,350,000 from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, according to the conservation service.

Metro on 01/14/2018

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