This Is The Kind of Attitude That Is Harming The White River
This article is in today's Harrison newspaper.
Proposed legislation expected today, tomorrow
LITTLE ROCK - State Soil and Water Director Randy Young told
his commission Wednesday that he was cooperating with
Harrison-area legislators who would be introducing legislation to
take farms in the Crooked Creek watershed out of controversial
state phosphorus regulations.
That will remove farmers in Searcy County and parts of Boone,
Newton and Marion Counties from requirements to develop a
fertilization plan and use a certified fertilizer applicator to keep
phosphorus runoff into streams to a minimum.
The Sugarloaf Creek, Bear Creek and Long Creek watersheds will
be among the streams that still come under the proposed
regulations in Boone County.
Young said Thursday morning that he would be meeting with
state Reps. James Norton of Harrison and Monty Davenport of
Yellville today or tomorrow to help them draft a bill exempting
Crooked Creek farms from the regulations.
He had told the commission Wednesday that a University of
Arkansas compilation of soil tests showed Boone County farms
contained an average of 475 pounds of phosphorus per acre,
which is significantly above the 60 to 100 pounds needed for
farming. Marion had a 140 pound average, he said.
Asked why, given those figures, he was cooperating with the
proposal to remove farms from the regulation, he said he had
promised at a December legislative committee meeting that he
He also noted that Crooked Creek did not flow into another
Special "excess nutrient" areas were designated for regulation by
the legislature two years ago under the threat that if Arkansas
didn't act, Oklahoma would require what Young says are
impossible phosphorus limits, choking growth in Washington and
There have been similar rumblings from Missouri and Arkansas
streams flowing into Missouri were also designated for regulation.
But the law also included the Crooked Creek watershed, which
flows into the White River at Cotter and thence through
Arkansas to the Mississippi River.
Representative Norton said Thursday that he had never
understood why Crooked Creek was included. "I tried to keep it
out two years ago," he said. "It may not have received the
attention it should have," during the push to satisfy Oklahoma.
Norton said he, Davenport and state Sens. Randy Laverty of
Jasper and Shawn Womack of Mountain Home would sponsor the
bill and "hopefully it will go through relatively easy and fast."
The December meeting of the legislature's agriculture committee
had resulted in Soil and Water's proposed regulations to
implement the law being kicked back to the legislative rules
committee instead of on to the Legislative Council whose
approval would allow them to go into effect.
Representative Norton said Thursday that some two dozen
unhappy Harrison-area farmers attended the December meeting,
which drew no news coverage but slowed down motion to finalize
At Wednesday's meeting, the Soil and Water Commission gave
itself the power to act on the regulations for a 120 day
emergency period until the interim legislative rules committee
goes back into session after the legislature goes home. The
emergency period can be extended for another 120 days but "not
indefinitely," the commission was told.
The commission was urged by representatives of the state
Department of Environmental Quality and the National Resource
Conservation Service to use the emergency period to get
cracking on training the local conservation district workers who
will prepare the fertilization plans. If the legislative blockage
ends, the regulations are to go into effect next Jan. 1. Federal
farm and pollution agencies are expecting that, the commission
©Ozarks Newsstand 2005