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About Fred Paillet

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So far Fred Paillet has created 12 blog entries.
28 08, 2018

The Trouble with Mussels

By |2018-08-28T14:56:25-05:00August 28th, 2018|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2018|Tags: |

Everyone who has ever floated the Buffalo River is familiar with freshwater mussels. Their shells litter the gravel bars and living mussels can be seen embedded in the rocks in riffles. Although most of us enjoying the Ozark out of doors think of these “river clams” as peripheral to our activities, the lowly mussel has played an inordinate role in our local economic history. This little creature has had a strong influence on industry as well as ecological management in Arkansas, serving as both an economic resource and an ecological management problem. The industry part is nicely summarized in an article in the March-April 2017 issue of Arkansas Wildlife. It all started with a late 1800’s pearl rush after the discovery of valuable pearls in White River mussels. In the meantime, Arkansas mussel shells were found to be a valuable source of mother-of-pearl goods in the manufacture of buttons. New cutting techniques and President Harrison’s protective tariff bill spawned a surge in button manufacturing based on blanks cut from White River mussels. The industry lagged during the depression, but then surged again when buttons had to replace zippers during WWII metal rationing. After that, the Japanese cultured pearl industry found that [...]

8 03, 2018

The Cucumber Magnolia

By |2018-08-06T12:47:50-05:00March 8th, 2018|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2018|Tags: |

The Rodney Dangerfield Tree of Buffalo River Ledges Illustration is a profile of the mature tree found growing in Boen Gulf. The leaves are thin and supple “shade leaves” from an understory sapling. Many Ozark hikers are familiar with the common trees such as oak, beech, black gum, and hickory that make up our scenic upland hardwoods.  Other trees such as sycamore, sweetgum, and river birch are notable for the way they line our waterways.  But one important Ozark tree, like that famous comedian of old, just cannot get any respect. Exactly how important the cucumber magnolia (Magnolia acumenata) is in our forests was revealed by a recent study.  The significance of this unassuming tree was demonstrated in a dendrochronological study completed as part of a University of Arkansas student Master’s thesis.  The project selected a remote and inaccessible gorge in the upper Buffalo drainage as a location where the difficult access by loggers could have allowed the trees there to escape logging. These trees just might represent a fragment of virgin Ozark forest and the student’s tree ring study was designed to test that hypothesis.  The remoteness of the study site is indicated by the fact that the [...]