Date: 3/14/17 2:41 am
From: Joseph Neal <joeneal...>
Remodeled Lake Atalanta in Rogers includes an attractive kiosk with detailed information about birds. Like info in Mulhollan Blind at Lake Fayetteville Park, this is a good-faith effort to encourage the general public. Auduboners have gone birding at Lake Atalanta for several decades. We provided bird data to the City – hopefully to help planning, and eventually for this kiosk.

Over the past couple of years Rogers has spent millions at Lake Atalanta building the kiosk, attractive new bathrooms, picnic areas, a complex system of paved and unpaved trails, and a boardwalk along part of the lake. Mountain bike trails wind and rewind up and down and all around hollows through which flow springs that form Prairie Creek -- that flow then to Beaver Lake.

A few years ago, some of us predicted City planners were going overboard -- too much trail impacting too much forest would be detrimental to rare and unusual wildlife, both animal and plant. But that said, yesterday I enjoyed a handsome winter resident, Hermit Thrush, along Frisco Spring run. But just beyond the Hermit Thrush, I was distressed that a significant patch of an unusual plant, Taper-tip Ginger (Asarum canadense var. acuminatum) was wiped-out by construction of a broad concrete trail.

In place of Taper-tip: trail side replanted with what appears non-native grass. Ironically, taper-tip is featured on a kiosk plaque celebrating the park’s unique plant communities. I was also pleased to see White-throated Sparrows, but not at elimination of much of a Pawpaw thicket we have always enjoyed on past field trips. Some of this will hopefully come back.

Many places to enjoy wildlife remain in new Lake Atalanta, but hillside trails now impact hillside wildlife. Not surprisingly, when I walked one of those trails yesterday, a Turkey Vulture flushing from a probable nest told me no trail should ever have been built there – IF we value our nesting vultures. We warned City planners about such – specifically, introducing extensive, recurring disturbances into steep hillside forest communities.

REALLY BAD: dirt work in the park resulted in placement of plastic garden netting designed to reduce soil erosion. This durable stuff is a well-known animal killer: birds that get trapped under loose sections, small mammals, young turtles, snakes, salamanders. Killer plastic is now resident throughout the park, holding soil disturbed along spring runs, lake sides, and broad concrete trails.

I think this new design of an old park will please many people who like upbeat modern, with native stone rustic. But for this nature pays significant price: increasing levels of environmental damage in ecologically fragile Ozark spring hollers.

Out flying low over the lake today, just-arrived Northern Rough-winged Swallows, FOS for me. Reminded me of former Lake Atlanta.

Join us on Facebook!