Tom McClure gave a rousing keynote address on the value of wilderness at the fall meeting of the Ozark Society at Queen Wilhelmina State Park. Tom, a native of Gurdon who now lives in Rogers, has been involved in preservation issues around the country for most of his life. He traced the wilderness ethic through Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, and others with pithy statements and observations and then brought the issue back to Arkansas.
Most of the current wilderness areas in Arkansas (about 1% of the area) were established in the early 1980’s with one recent 640-acre addition last year at Flatside. But there may be as many possible wilderness areas that might have qualified for inclusion but were deleted for various reasons in the ultimate legislative actions.
A good example is the Blue Hole, a special interest area on Hurricane Creek. Hurricane Creek is in the watershed just south of East Fork Wilderness, some 15 miles north of I-40 near Hector. It is protected by the steep sides of White Oak Mountain and a narrow canyon where it joins the East Fork of Illinois Bayou. Blue Hole is a swimmable pool just below two wonderful 10-foot waterfalls. It has a blueish tint because of very fine clay particles in the water that is characteristic of this area. Our attention became focused on Blue Hole when Bill Pell and others noticed an infomercial for ATV vehicles that was shot next to a jeep on one of the waterfalls. The Ozark Society has started a dialogue with forest service personnel, with the goal of protecting Blue Hole and other special interest areas for possible future inclusion into wilderness.
The Pulaski Chapter has scheduled a hike to Blue Hole for Saturday, February 9. Contact Steve Heye for details. The hike will be a vigorous 7 to 8-mile round trip, down and up about 700 feet of elevation.