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So far The Ozark Society has created 56 blog entries.
24 05, 2023

Zombies in the Ozarks

By |2023-05-24T15:31:21-05:00May 24th, 2023|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2023|Tags: |

By Fred Paillet, OS Education Chair You read that right – there are a few zombies on the loose in the Ozarks. By zombies we mean functionally dead creatures with their nervous systems taken over by alien life forms and programmed to do the bidding of those new masters. In high school biology you may remember hearing about one of nature’s ecological cruelties in the form of wasps that parasitize caterpillars. The female wasps do this by stinging the caterpillar to paralyze the bug, and then depositing eggs injected into the still living body. The wasp larvae then mature by eating the living flesh of their helpless victim. The process of ecological success through such a parasitic process has reached its ultimate form in the zombie ant fungus of the genus Ophiocordyceps. This fungus disseminates spores that infect ants but not to simply digest them. The fungus first takes over the ant’s nervous system to program the ant zombie to become the ideal fruiting body for the dissemination of spores. The ant is programmed to climb to the highest point it can manage so that the spores eventually produced can be exposed to the wind to ensure that they [...]

24 05, 2023

Climate Change Part 1: What Can a Person Do?

By |2023-05-24T15:25:31-05:00May 24th, 2023|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2023|Tags: |

By Laura Timby, Climate Change Committee It’s on the news everywhere, all the time. Dire predictions regarding the results of Climate Change also referred to as Global Warming. Not everyone agrees on whether its real or some made up scare tactic, but the general consensus of the Scientific Community is that it is real and happening, regardless of what it is called. Rarely a day passes without some news report of increasingly devastating storm events. Whether it is an unimaginably fierce hurricane or tornado, catastrophic flooding, frequent devastating earthquakes, deadly droughts, new records snowfalls, or soaring temperatures that threaten all life on earth, as we know it, it appears to be occurring with increased frequency. Disturbing? Frightening? Yes indeed, and on a scale that makes an individual wonder what they can possibly do to stop or slow the progression of this trend? Margaret Mead was a well-known American cultural anthropologist in the 60’s and 70’s. One of her more publicized quotes goes like this: “Never doubt that a small group of committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has." Wow! What a powerful and intriguing message. It gives me goose bumps! Very [...]

24 05, 2023

In Memoriam: Wellborn Jack Jr.

By |2023-05-24T15:21:10-05:00May 24th, 2023|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2023|Tags: |

By Carolyn Shearman and The Shreveport Times Wellborn Jack Jr. passed away April 4, 2023. He was born in Shreveport on July 23, 1936. He attended Barrett Elementary, Broadmoor Jr. High and Byrd High School. He graduated from LSU and LSU Law School where he was named Editor in Chief of the Law Review. He began the practice of law with his father in Shreveport in 1963. Wellborn had a brilliant mind and a passion for the law. He had an unparalleled commitment to his clients. He was included in “The Best Trial Lawyers of America” collection. Of all the cases he tried in his over 50 years as a trial attorney, two of them especially stood out. He was the first in the country to obtain, in a violent case, a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict based upon PTSD from the Vietnam War. He also defended a member of Earth First in an environmental conspiracy case in AZ. Wellborn was a life-long environmentalist. He was instrumental in creating the Caney Creek Wilderness Area, the first designated wilderness area in AR. He obtained a temporary restraining order to stop the dam ultimately built on the Cossatot River. [...]

24 05, 2023

Legislative Update: House Bill 1706 – To transfer the authority related to liquid animal waste management systems

By |2023-05-24T15:17:32-05:00May 24th, 2023|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2023|Tags: |

By Brian Thompson, Ozark Society President This recently approved legislation is about moving the permitting of hog farms from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC). Back in 2019, there was similar legislation introduced as a result of the C&H Hog Farms controversy. ANRC is a farmer friendly agency established in dustbowl days to assist farmers with the conservation of topsoil. They serve an important purpose, but they are more aligned with farmer’s interests than evaluating permits or conducting enforcement. The goal was to have ANRC rewrite the regulations to be more favorable to hog farms, possibly in a way that would protect C&H. That early legislation fell apart when EPA expressed an unwelcome interest. This year, HB1706 was introduced with the same purpose as the failed 2019 bill, in that it would move permitting from ADEQ to ANRC. The new bill was sponsored by DeAnn Vaught of District 87 (Horatio). Representative Vaught, a senior house member serving on several committees, also raises hogs as part of her farming operation. Surprisingly, the Governor’s Office did not support Vaught’s bill, primarily because ANRC would be required to hire their own legal, geological, and [...]

3 03, 2023

The Sassafras Hiking Award

By |2023-03-04T11:59:05-06:00March 3rd, 2023|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2023|Tags: |

By Stewart Noland and Brian Thompson The Sassafras Hiking Award is a new form of recognition that the Ozark Society has established. It is given for individuals who hike all four major regional trails: The Ouachita Trail – Talimena State Park OK to Pinnacle Mountain State Park AR, 223 miles The Ozark Highlands Trail – Lake Fort Smith to Woolum and Spring Creek to Matney Knob, 196.6 miles The Buffalo River Trail – Boxley to Pruitt, 37 miles + Woolum to Dillard’s Ferry, 42 Miles The Ozark Trail – Western Trailhead of Eleven Point Section to Onondaga Trailhead, 217.5 miles Once hikers complete all four trails, they may contact the Ozark Society at: www.ozarksociety.net/ozark-society-awards-grants-scholarships/os-sassafras-hiking-award/sassafras-hiking-award-registration/ to complete the registry form and submit $10 to cover the cost of shipping the award.  The Sassafras Hiking Award is an original design created by Little Rock ceramic artist Katherine Purcell.  Each individual award has its own distinctive sequential number. The Ozark Society will maintain a numerical registry of all Sassafras Hiking Award recipients on its website. A biography of Wade Colwell winner of the first Sassafras Hiking Award by Stewart Noland The first Sassafras Hiking Award recipient is Wade Colwell. Wade is an [...]

3 03, 2023

An Ozark Mystery Lost in Deep Geologic Time

By |2023-03-03T11:45:54-06:00March 3rd, 2023|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2023|Tags: |

By Fred Paillet, OS Education Chair Mysteries have always been of great interest to readers, and we have a fascinating example of a mystery right here in our Ozark Mountains that relates to the rocks under our own feet – and even has a possible biblical implication. If you were stuck on US 71 in Bella Vista before the I-49 bypass was opened or have hiked past some of the rock shelters along the Back Forty trails you have seen the near vertical walls of layered limestone forming steep cliffs. Geologists call this the St Joe member of the Boone Limestone deposited about 300 million years ago. That was during what we hear of as the Coal Age when vast swamplands of primitive plants covered the lowlands east of the Ozark Plateau. Our area was often covered by shallow seas where rivers draining those swamps spread deltas over those sea sediments to form sandstone ledges, we see at places like Pedestal Rocks in the Boston Mountains. No mystery in any of that so far. But what still puzzles geologists and occasionally provides fodder for creationists, is the deep black layer of slate-like rock exposed at the base of those [...]

2 03, 2023

Gravel Bar Migration, Climate Change, and Mussels on the Buffalo

By |2023-03-03T11:38:19-06:00March 2nd, 2023|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2023|Tags: |

By David Peterson, Ozark Society Past President Gravel bar migration: The Buffalo River and its tributaries are a dynamic system. Streambank erosion occurs on the outside of loops where the current is strongest and the debris is deposited on the inside of downstream curves where the current is less, hence gravel bar migration (see above, Calf Creek near Tyler Bend). Over time these loops expand, multiple bars can form, which eventually degrade and reforest when the river creates a new channel. Old channels and gravel bars can be seen everywhere in the Buffalo River flood plain when you walk away from the river. Upstream migration can also occur as bank cover and trees erode. On the right is a dramatic documentation of this process on the Mississippi over the last 8,000 years in 500-year increments. Each loop had its system of gravel bars which subsequently were degraded by the next flood or channel relocation. While basic physics governs these structures, over time specific future predictions are impossible. If a historical study were made of the Buffalo River a similar map might occur except for local geography and scale: the river is smaller, the valley walls constrain the meanders, the [...]

2 03, 2023

In Memoriam: Hubert Ferguson, Terry Keefe, and Jay French Hill

By |2023-03-02T15:40:19-06:00March 2nd, 2023|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2023|Tags: |

By Stewart Noland, Tim Ernst, and Carolyn Shearman Hubert Ferguson by Stewart Noland: Hubert Ferguson, born in 1925, grew up in DeWitt, Arkansas. After serving in World War II, Hubert returned home and attended UCA in Conway. Hubert and his wife Mary Virginia had three children Francie, John, and Bill. Hubert worked with Conway Printing Company, where many Ozark Society books, guides, and maps were printed. As long-time members and supporters of the Ozark Society and its mission, Hubert and Mary Virginia (MV) shared a love for the Buffalo River country. That shared appreciation led them to spend their honeymoon float fishing on the Buffalo River. In the early 1970’s, they followed their passion to Boxley Valley, and settled into their historic home. Even after Mary Virginia (MV) passed, Hubert remained there until his death February 4, 2023. The Ferguson family supported the Ozark Society throughout life. MV and son John were on the Ozark Society’s Jubilee Bus to Washington D.C. in October 1971, to testify before Congress in favor of the Buffalo National River enabling act. Hubert and MV’s preservation efforts created a positive impact in the watershed, including Hubert’s involvement in developing the Boxley Valley Historic District [...]

2 03, 2023

Letters To Dan, Our Sassafras Award Winning Book

By |2023-03-02T15:09:29-06:00March 2nd, 2023|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2023|Tags: |

By Brian Thompson, Ozark Society President The Ozark Society Foundation has selected Letters to Dan: A Philosophical Guide to the Ozarks by Fayetteville, Arkansas-based writer and photographer Don House for the Sassafras Award for Excellence in Environmental Writing. The award includes a $3,000 prize and publication of the new book. You can get it now at the Ozark Society Store: ozarksociety.net/store Letters to Dan includes personal essays and photographs that reflect the Ozark region’s heritage and modern culture. Finalist judge for the award, Davis McCombs, called Letters to Dan “a rare and remarkable book.” McCombs, Director of the Program in Creative Writing and Translation at the University of Arkansas and a former park ranger at Mammoth Cave National Park, described Letters to Dan: “Like the lens of the author’s camera, the writing throughout this extraordinary book is trained unwaveringly and lovingly on the hills, rivers, cemeteries, old churches, small-town diners, people, plants, and animals of the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Each essay—in its understated, eloquent way—speaks to the wonder and complexity of the natural world and to the interconnectedness of all life. The authenticity and urgency of this message is woven deep into the fibers of the writing. Behind [...]

6 12, 2022

Climate Change Hits Donkey Hard

By |2022-12-06T11:05:44-06:00December 6th, 2022|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2022|Tags: |

By Jennifer Ailor, OS Climate Change Committee Chair and Roscoe’s Mom Hi, I’m Roscoe, a rascal of a donkey living in the Ozarks. Mom asked me to honk a few words about how hard it’s become to find hay and pasture for me and my buddies, Josie, my sweet donkey friend; Fat Abby, the mule; and Sierra, the old mare who heads up the herd. In the winter, we’re burdened by the presence of Rosie, a fast-talking, greedy fox trotter who’s taking some R&R from riding trails. This is the real Roscoe!        This summer was so dang hot and dry even for us hardy donkeys. Why, Mom had to settle for hay not as tasty as last year’s and short of what she’ll need for us equines to eat this winter. We went for 60 days without a drop of rain, and the pasture was so dry even the buckbrush wasn’t fit to eat. It’s been hot and dry in the Ozarks before—I well remember the summer of 2012—but this climate change is bringing on the heat and dry a good month early and lasting longer. My eating is suffering! I know the horse and cows [...]


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