Arkansas Master Naturalists
National River Clean Up day on Saturday, July 5, 2014 Print
River Valley Arkansas Master Naturalists
Written by Phil Wanzer   

This Spring and early Summer, we have been truly blessed with plenty of beautiful days and ample rainfall. The day of the clean up at Lake Dardanelle State Park was one of those beautiful days.  The past precipitation made the Arkansas River shoreline dense with lush, green vegetation, making some areas even appear tropical!

All the LDSP kayaks had been reserved and I had my canoe, which I call “the barge”, as it is an excellent trash-collecting vessel.




















As in the past, I got out of my canoe and went into the thicket, which is where all the trash tends to collect, at the point of the high water mark.  I would throw the trash out for those in kayaks, and they would pick it up and put it in the correct bag (we had both trash and recycle bags.)  It wasn't long before I heard someone shout, “TIRE!”

We attempted to get an old buoy that was stuck in the mud amongst the weeds, but as we were lifting it up, I heard someone yell, “BEES!”  I high-tailed it out of there.












We later found another very large buoy, which was very hard to move.  We pushed and pulled it out from the shoreline, not knowing there was also a long, heavy chain attached to it.  Since it was impossible to move or cut the chain, we left it for the Coast Guard to retrieve at a later time.



By noon we had collected 9 or so tires and several bags of trash and recyclables.

Everyone then gathered at the park for our lunch of grilled hot dogs, drinks and cookies, while a Russellville Clean & Green representative was handing out goodies.

Awards were then given out, including an award for the strangest piece of trash found, which was a piece of floating Styrofoam with a small plant growing on it!

I received the last award for my continued support and for always bringing my canoe to help with the river clean-ups.  As I accepted the award I felt very honored and I am thankful for having received it (and the applause I heard!)


The Master Naturalist program has improved my life in so many positive ways.  I especially enjoy the fellowship with others, and I am grateful for the chance to serve our community. I strongly urge anyone, if you are not a member, to please seek-out our group!  If you are an inactive member, then get out there and participate!

Remember, you can do whatever you feel physically able to do, to rest frequently, and/or just come to visit!  Do this for yourself; do it for your community; do it because improving and beautifying our wonderful Natural State of Arkansas is worth it!

Come on, be one with nature…….and live long and prosper, my friends!


More photos taken by numerous people holding Phil's camera can be seen here.

Last Updated on Monday, 14 July 2014 05:27
Beaver Lake Nursery Pond Carries On Print
Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalists
Written by Joe Neal, Ornithologist   

Beaver Lake Nursery Pond is still going strong, in terms of the use of nest boxes there maintained by Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalists, and in terms of their being a lot of soft mast attractive to Orchard Orioles and other birds.  In terms of Tree Swallows and Eastern Bluebirds: about 4-5 boxes each are still in some stage of use. On box 5, Eastern Bluebirds seem involved in a re-nesting attempt, with the male watching intently as the female inspects. Lots of yakking from a swallow box on the pond’s west side and an adult swallow is in full harassment mode for all who stray too close.

The pond levee has lots of evidence of river otters, with fecal waste full of crawfish parts and Green Herons (3) work the crawfish business, too. We spotted 4 sandpipers in flight over the pond that appeared to be Greater Yellowlegs (1) and Lesser Yellowlegs (3), both species on their southward migration. Not much shorebird habitat at the pond now, but we expect mudflat development and consequently, more action in terms of migratory shorebirds, as summer expands.

A hen Mallard was escorting 6 recent hatchlings, generally staying close to vegetational cover. I at first thought this hen was a Blue-winged Teal, since her bill was so dark, but I sent a few photographs to others who picked up on two obvious Mallard field marks: white feathers in the tail and light colored bars in the speculum.

NWA Master Naturalists have also installed large cavity boxes typically used by Wood Ducks. We had two intriguing sightings that brought to mind their value. First, we saw two Wood Ducks, including a female that was staying very close to cover, as though she had young there. We did not press the matter since it will be easier to see them as the ducklings get older. We also spotted a female Hooded Merganser, another large cavity customer who has previously nested at Beaver Lake. This bird also remained close to cover.

The entire 0.9 pond levee seems to be owned by what appear to be family groups of Orchard Orioles. No doubt the huge crop of blackberries and wild cherries attract them, and many other species, too. We also had Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at both trumpet creepers and flowering buttonbushes. As these sightings suggest, there are good reasons for return visits.  We also ran into NWA Master Naturalists Steve Sampers and Steven Thao working along the shoreline doing their part in the Beaver Lake Clean Up removing unsightly and dangerous flotsam and jetson from the habitat.   Another great example of the work of NWAMN volunteers.

Personally, I’m ready to sit in a chair in the cool of an early morning and see who all loves cherries, at least until big heat and boiling sun drive me home.

--Article and photos by Joe Neal, Ornithologist.


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