SWN Restoring Archey Fork

Aug. 5, 2013
A groundbreaking ceremony was held June 28 in Clinton, Arkansas, marking the beginning of the Archey Fork restoration project led by The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas (TNC) whose mission is to conserve and restore the lands and waters of Arkansas for the benefit of people in the Fayetteville Shale area and beyond.

Company teams up with TNC to benefit residents of Fayetteville shale

A groundbreaking ceremony was held June 28 in Clinton, Arkansas, marking the beginning of the Archey Fork restoration project led by The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas (TNC) whose mission is to conserve and restore the lands and waters of Arkansas for the benefit of people in the Fayetteville Shale area and beyond.

In addition to Scott Simon, The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas director; Don Richardson, former Mayor of Clinton; and Joy DeClerk, the restoration project leader; Mark Boling, president of V+ Development Solutions, a division of Southwestern Energy Corp. (SWN), was on hand for the ceremony that included speeches and a field trip around the site.

Boling announced SWN's $900,000 commitment to fund Phase I of a three-phased project to restore the Archey Fork of the Upper Little Red River in Arkansas during his keynote address at the Nature Conservancy's Annual Partners in Conservation Luncheon in Little Rock in November 2012.

The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas has been working with the US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the City of Clinton to restore a 3.2-mile stretch of the Upper Little Red River that was straightened and widened in the mid-1980s for flood control.

"In April 2012, SWN announced the creation of V+ Development Solutions with the mission of engaging stakeholders to develop innovations and improvements that positively impact environmental stewardship, the economy and local communities. As part of this initiative, SWN approached The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas to help in identifying potential partnership projects that would benefit residents of the Fayetteville Shale," Boling said. "We are proud to join in the effort to restore the Archey Fork to a condition that will improve habitat for a variety of rare aquatic species, protect and improve water quality in Greers Ferry Lake, and improve recreational opportunities in the area."

The river is threatened by sediment from decades of eroding river banks, run-off from rural roads and the clearing of riparian forest. This degradation of the river is contributing sediment into Greers Ferry Lake which provides drinking water for more than 200,000 as well as significant economic benefits through hydropower and recreational opportunities.

"Water quality of both the Little Red River and Greers Ferry Lake is important for the economic vitality of Clinton and the region," said TNC director Simon. "With SWN's generous contribution we are one step closer to protecting and improving these precious resources."

TNC has developed a large-scale restoration design-and-build strategy based on the science of natural channel design. The project will require channel shaping and construction of in-channel rock structures to be completed in three phases, with the goal of reducing stream bank erosion, restoring channel stability, improving aquatic habitat and improving water quality. Phases I and II will restore approximately one mile of Archey Fork near Clinton, and Phase III will improve nearly two miles of the South Fork.

Southwestern Energy Corp. discovered the economic viability of the Fayetteville Shale and was the first company to drill and successfully produce its natural gas. At Dec. 31, 2012, Southwestern held leases for approximately 913,502 net acres in the Fayetteville Shale play area. For the first three months of 2013, Southwestern placed a total of 102 operated horizontal wells on production in the Fayetteville Shale. At March 31, 2013, the company's gross operated production rate was approximately 1,933 MMcf per day.

In 2013 the company plans to invest approximately $900 million in the Fayetteville Shale, $830 million of which will be directed toward the drilling of approximately 385 to 390 gross wells in 2013, all of which will be operated.