Coalition receives $3.9 million to conserve, restore War Eagle Creek

A coalition will receive a $3.9 million grant to conserve and restore War Eagle Creek in Northwest Arkansas, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced Wednesday.

“Nature is our greatest ally in the fight against climate change,” Haaland said at the event at the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center in Springdale.

Members of the War Eagle Creek Collaborative Restoration Initiative attended the announcement. The 15 organizations in the group include the state Game and Fish Commission, the nonprofit Beaver Watershed Alliance, local governments and landowners.

The money will go to replace four, low-water crossings of the creek with bridges, to restore the stream in the area of the removed Huntsville dam and to help pay for tree replanting and other restoration work along the creek and tributaries, according to the restoration group.

The work already in progress was expected to take at least four years to complete with local and state resources, said Eric Brinkman, assistant chief of fisheries for Game and Fish. Now the work will finish in about 18 months after the grant is received and be more comprehensive, he said.

The grant also will help pay for biological sampling and testing to make sure the project helps native fish and wildlife as intended, something local sources would not have covered, Brinkman said. The $3.9 million will pay the bulk of the projects, but state, local and landowner contributions including materials and labor will mean an estimated total worth of $5.5 million will go into the restoration effort, he said.

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