West Fork White River Restoration Project

White River Project - Before Restoration White River Project - After Restoration

More than $8.8 million will be devoted to a portion of the West Fork of the White River Watershed to improve and protect water quality in Northwest Arkansas over the next five years.

The West Fork of the White River is a major tributary that flows to the White River which forms Beaver Lake, the primary drinking water source for one in seven Arkansans. The "West Fork White River Watershed Initiative," proposed by the Watershed Conservation Resource Center (WCRC) and partners, will help restore the river and ensure clean water flows to the source of drinking water for Northwest Arkansas.

This project is funded in part by the Natural Resource Conservation Service through their Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), an initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The RCPP promotes innovative projects that integrate multiple conservation approaches to work on a common resource issue, such as maintaining water quality through stream restoration and conservation practice application. Leading experts in watershed planning and river restoration, the WCRC built on previous watershed assessments and planning to develop an innovative proposal that addresses river instability and reduces sediment and phosphorus loadings to streams, while restoring the local ecology.

The WCRC will be responsible for river assessment and restoration work. The Beaver Watershed Alliance will work closely with landowners who want to implement BMPs on their agricultural lands. The funding will enable restoration of up to two miles of the West Fork White River, which means less sediment enters the West Fork from erosion and less ends up in Beaver Lake. Other outcomes of the project will include an environmental assessment of the West Fork Watershed; up to 21,000 feet of riparian vegetation restoration; the creation of 150 conservation and forest management plans; the implementation of up to 300 BMPs on area farms; and the creation of five "perpetual" conservation easements. These project outcomes are consistent with the goals of the 2012 Beaver Lake Watershed Protection Strategy and are within the highest priority watershed.

This is the type of partnership, effort, and funding magnitude that will be necessary over the next few decades in order to maintain water quality of Beaver Lake and the integrity of its watershed. In addition to reductions in sediment and phosphorus loadings through BMP implementation and river restoration, the commitments from all of the partners are essential for long-term success in protecting natural resources and excellent quality of life in NW Arkansas.

Participating organizations include the WCRC, Beaver Water District, Beaver Watershed Alliance, Walton Family Foundation, Natural Resource Conservation Service (state and county offices), Washington County Conservation District, Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Cities of West Fork and Fayetteville, Arkansas Farm Bureau, Arkansas Forestry Commission, Arkansas Natural Resource Commission, Ozarks Water Watch, and University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service.

Landowner Engagement

The project seeks to improve water quality by providing resources and assistance to watershed landowners, residents, and stakeholders for the implementation of voluntary best management practices (BMPs). BMPs can include anything from forest management plans, soil tests and fertilizer calibrations, streambank restoration, putting land in conservation, using Low-Impact Development practices for stormwater management, or pasture management practices. The Beaver Watershed Alliance engages landowners and managers in the project area through a variety of outreach methods including educational programs, property visits and assessments, and quarterly newsletters. Our outreach and educational programs provide landowners and managers with expert information regarding BMPs, how they can be implemented, and the resources available.

Property Visits

If you are a land owner or manager, please check in with us if you are interested in learning more about managing streamside erosion and healthy agricultural lands and to ensure you are making wise decisions with regard to management of your private land. This is a free service.

To find out more contact us at Info@beaverwatershedalliance.org or 479-750-8007.

Publications

White River Project - Before Restoration