The Birth of a Plan
The White Oak Bayou Wetland Management Plan project began in 2008 with the task of mapping wetlands within the White Oak Bayou watershed. The initial mapping was completed through the use of existing wetland delineation boundaries and aerial photo interpretation. This included creating a geographic information system (GIS) to continue refining mapping efforts within the watershed. To date nearly 1500 acres of wetlands have been mapped.
In 2009 a guidance document was developed which laid out steps to be taken in developing an effective Wetland Management Plan for the watershed. Since developing the guidance document, several other components of the project have been completed. A Technical Advisory Committee was created to provide assistance with scientific and technical guidance, and a Steering Committee of stakeholders was formed to guide the development of the Wetland Management Plan. In 2010 a wetland assessment project was started to evaluate the ecological function of different types of wetlands in the watershed. Other science based efforts have included several UCA undergraduate research projects and a graduate master thesis, water quality and biological sampling by Arkansas DEQ, vegetation surveys by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, and documentation of groundwater seeps on the Camp Robinson military base.
Public outreach and education efforts include canoe floats, wetland field tours, public presentations, public display booths, and wetland education at Maumelle Middle School. In 2018 a Board of Directors was formed from the stakeholders of the Steering Committee and the group incorporated as the White Oak Bayou Wetlands Conservancy (WOBWC). This 501(c)3 non-profit promotes the benefits provided by the wetlands, including wildlife and aquatic habitat, improved water quality, flood mitigation and recreational benefits such as canoeing, birding, and nature photography.