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Restoration Work at Lorance Creek NA Improves Drainage

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Tuesday, March 31, 2020

In the early 2000s, portions of Lorance Creek Natural Area (NA) were developed for low-impact recreational use, including a paved foot trail, interpretive panels, a retention pond, and a boardwalk into the swamp. Over time, the retention pond stopped draining water, causing the area to flood and kill off nearby native forbs and grasses. Recently, drainage at the pond was restored and the retention pond converted to a detention pond.

Designed using environmentally sensitive construction techniques, the retention pond was created to slow runoff from the parking area and allow pollutants to settle out naturally. Despite this design, it was not draining and had become more like a holding area for water and runoff, thus killing off nearby native grasses and forbs.

The retention pond and the piping attached to it were designed by Mark Robertson of Mesa Landscape Architects, Inc. headquartered in Dallas, Texas. ANHC Land Management Specialist, Emily Roberts, consulted with Robertson for help determining the cause of the drainage problem and solutions for fixing it.

A local company, Horticare, drained the pond to a level that allowed them to diagnose the drainage problem. Silt had blocked the pipe that runs horizontally underground and away from the pond. Once the pipe was unblocked, the pond drained itself. The stand pipe at the center of the pond and some of the piping near the trail were replaced.

A pipe with larger holes was used for the repair, making it less likely to become blocked in the future. However, this changed the functionality of the retention pond to more of a detention pond. The pond no longer holds water for lengthy periods, but does still slow drainage, reducing flooding and allowing stormwater particles to settle before draining to the wetland. The ANHC plans to replant the area near the detention pond with native plants which will help prevent future issues with silt and clogged pipes.

With its close proximity to the Little Rock metropolitan area, Lorance Creek NA is a great choice for low-impact outdoor recreation. A paved in-and-out trail begins at the parking area and takes visitors through an upland pine-oak forest, transitioning into bottomland with a boardwalk into the swamp. For more information about the natural area and to plan your visit, go to .

Please remember to continue social distancing while enjoying the natural area (or anywhere else outdoors). Here are some tips from the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism: maintain a distance of 6 ft. or more from others when walking, hiking, jogging or biking; use a tissue or your elbow when coughing/sneezing; carry hand sanitizer with you; avoid contact with sick people; and stay home if you are sick. Please do not congregate in groups. Please do not shake hands, give hugs, or touch others or your face.


Top – Retention pond at Lorance Creek Natural Area before repairs to aid drainage. Photo by Emily Roberts.

Middle – Drained retention pond and new stand pipe at Lorance Creek Natural Area. Photo by Emily Roberts.

Second from bottom – Detention pond at Lorance Creek Natural Area that replaces the retention pond. Photo by Emily Roberts. 

Bottom left – Boardwalk into the swamp at Lorance Creek Natural Area. Photo by Bryan Rupar.

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