Quick StatsOfficial Name: Bayou Bartholomew Alliance
Year Founded: 1995
Chief Executive: Dr. Curtis Merrell
Headquarters: Pine Bluff, AR, USA
Mission: To preserve water quality, improve the beauty of the Bayou, enhance wildlife and fish habitat and related recreational pursuits, educate the public about the historical and ecological significance of this resource, and to improve overall benefits to landowners adjacent to the Bayou
Language Spoken: English
Founders: was Dr. Curtis Merrell’s
# Countries Active: USA
Official Website: http://www.arkansas.gov/bba/
Areas of Focus: Coastal and Marine Ecosystems, Conservation, Ecology
Organisation Type: Non-profit corporation
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Bayou Bartholomew Alliance
The Bayou Bartholomew Alliance was incorporated in October of 1995 as a nonprofit organization. It was Dr. Curtis Merrell’s vision and concern for this resource which initiated the formation of a group of concerned citizens, landowners and others who realize the importance of this unique southern stream.
Bayou Bartholomew begins its journey northwest of the city of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and flows approximately 359 miles before crossing the Louisiana border on its way to joining the Ouachita River. It is heralded as the longest bayou in the world. Lined in portions with cypress and tupelo swamps and inhabited by alligators and large turtles, visited by wintering waterfowl, containing over one-hundred and seventeen species of fishes, this bayou is truly a wonder of nature.
However, the Bayou does have problems which cause its water to be of a lesser quality than what it could be. All of us who live in the Bayou’s watershed, of almost one-million acres, probably contribute to the impacts the bayou feels from man’s activity. Noticeable activities which lead to some water quality problems or loss of habitats include urban development which removes the trees along the stream bank. This causes bank erosion and increases in stream temperature which leads to stress on aquatic organisms. As we drive through the watershed we often see evidence of dumping of everything from worn out furniture, garbage, pesticide barrels, to other unwanted items. Silviculture and farming activities can also lead to problems for the stream by denuding stream banks or allowing soil erosion to occur. Of course these same kinds of activities can lead to loss of fish and wildlife habitat.
All of these concerns and a desire to try to improve the situation led to the establishment of the Bayou Bartholomew Alliance. This non-profit organization has brought together representatives of many different areas of interests including agriculture/forestry, environmental, recreational, industrial and others to preserve water quality, improve the beauty of the Bayou, enhance wildlife and fish habitat and related recreational pursuits, educate the public about the historical and ecological significance of this resource, and to improve overall benefits to landowners adjacent to the Bayou.
Since its incorporation, the Alliance has achieved many things that we are proud of. None of the following would have been possible without the help and cooperation of volunteers, landowners, state and federal agencies, and private donors.
1) Worked to insure that the Bayou Bartholomew was listed as an impaired stream and listed in the top ten by the state of Arkansas for water quality restoration. This made both state and federal assistance programs available to landowners who voluntarily enrolled in conservation practices.
2) Has provided nearly 1.75 million hardwood tree seedlings to landowners. Riparian corridors have been established along the Bayou for an estimated 100 miles encompassing nearly 27 square miles of new forest.
3) Obtained grants to hire personnel in county conservation district offices to accelerate conservation planning on farms under the direction of Natural Resources Conservation Service District Conservationists.
4) With hundreds of volunteers, BBA has removed 169 tons of trash from the Bayou Bartholomew.
5) Has disseminated information on the ecological and historical significance of the Bayou Bartholomew by giving 100’s of presentations to schools, civic clubs, church groups, and government personnel. Has conducted workshops for teachers and developed teaching modules on topics relative to the bayou for use in science programs. Workshops have also been given to thousands of Hunter Education students on wildlife management and habitat protection. Environmental Science merit badge classes have been given to hundreds of Boy Scouts.
6) Has obtained grants to construct some eight demonstration projects directed at major soil erosion problems on landowners property.
7) Has obtained funds to modify an old weir to demonstrate how such weirs should be constructed to allow for both fish passage and small watercraft passage and maintain stream function.
8) Has established a conservation easement program to protect existing riparian hardwood forests, thereby giving landowners the opportunity to preserve the forests and still obtain some financial benefit.
9) On donated properties, BBA has constructed a 1.78 mile-long nature trail along the Bayou Bartholomew in Pine Bluff. This allows community use, preserves the stream, prevents erosion, and offers educational opportunities. Some landowners have donated additional property to allow further trail development in the city. A second trail was recently developed.
10) Has conducted a series of workshops to educate landowners and timber harvesters as to methods to insure that logging practices have minimal impacts on water quality in the bayou.
11) Has kept the public informed by producing a quarterly newsletter, having articles published in newspapers, TV appearances, and giving tours.
12) Formed a Technical Support Group which is composed of representatives from state, federal, and local agencies as well as private industry. All uses of the Bayou Bartholomew’s natural resources are represented, from landowners to government to environmental interests. This group provides continuous direction and the updating of strategies to restore the Bayou Bartholomew.
13) Has modified over sixty logjams to prevent in-channel bank erosion and allow passage of fish and recreational boats up and down the Bayou.
14) Has helped to create three new concrete boat ramps and parking lots along the Bayou Bartholomew.