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ANHC and AR AFS Partner for Two-Day Workshops

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Arkansas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) recently partnered with the ANHC to host two workshops at the Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH) headquarters and a local field site. Theo Witsell, ANHC botanist and ecologist, taught the aquatic plant identification workshops.

Twenty members of the Arkansas Chapter of the AFS attended each workshop. Members of the AFS come from many government agencies and the private sector, including Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. Private sector participants included lake managers, environmental consultants, and more.

Workshop participants learned about the aquatic wetland plants commonly encountered in Arkansas and the major types of wetlands. Witsell focused primarily on true aquatics, plant species that are found in the water – floating, submerged, or emergent (in shallow water near the shoreline). The class spent time inside examining plants with microscopes and magnifying glasses. They made extensive use of ANHC Herbarium specimens (a collection of pressed and dried scientific plant specimens), which allowed them to study plants that aren’t available for identification in mid-July (when the class was held).

The other portion of the two-day classes was spent in the field at Lake Conway, where participants were able to identify plants in their native habitats. Witsell also brought in fresh plant material from other sites, including Ferguson Lake, Little Maumelle River, Camp Robinson Special Use Area, Rock Creek, and various area ponds. Some attendees brought in fresh specimens of species that they wished to learn about.

Feedback from the workshop has been positive, including this comment from Katy Harmon, assistant lakes manager, Hot Springs Village Property Owners Association, “Great workshop; loved it!” and from Reed Green, hydrologist/adjunct professor, U.S. Geological Survey, “Thanks again for leading us in this class. It was really good for me. I hadn’t thought about grasses, sedges, and rushes, in like 35 years.”

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