Pack & Paddle

7 12, 2020

High Points Part 11

By |2020-12-07T12:34:48-06:00December 7th, 2020|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2020|Tags: |

This is the eleventh episode of my trips to visit as many of the fifty US States’ highest points. This time it’s a week in the inter-mountain west to bag Idaho and Nevada in August of 2020. This trip was set up when my backpack on the John Muir Trail for July 2020 was canceled by COVID- 19. Mt. Whitney was to be the goal of that hike. This left me in shape but nowhere to go. I saw that no permits were needed for Idaho or Nevada, so I set this trip up as a replacement. The trip started on August 18th with a flight to Salt Lake City, Utah from Little Rock. I rented a small SUV with the ground clearance I would need for access to Nevada’s high point and got the hiking supplies I would need to do my attempt of Borah Peak, Idaho on the 20th. Flying during COVID was not too bad. You had to be aware of your surroundings and made sure you had stuff to eat on the plane as all they passed out was water and packaged snacks. The center seats were left open on the plane. Overall, I felt folks [...]

7 12, 2020

Growing Your Own Pawpaws

By |2020-12-07T12:38:29-06:00December 7th, 2020|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2020|Tags: |

The article Fred Paillet presented about pawpaws should be required reading for every Ozark Society member.  My estimate is that 95% of the population would not be able to identify this tree, and perhaps 99.99% have never had the pleasure of tasting the fruit.  It’s time for a change.  It’s time to grow your own and share the bounty. I had my first taste of a pawpaw on a hike down in the bowels of the West Prong of the Mountain Fork of the Mulberry River about 1988.  I was with Dr. Compton, and others, searching for virgin timber on a warm September day.  We turned to go up Wellcave Hollow when Dr. Compton pointed out lots of pawpaws on the forest floor. Being new to the Ozarks and never having seen a Pawpaw before, I picked one up for a taste. What a pleasant surprise on a September day, especially when you are thirsty.  What did I just taste?  Mango? Banana? Peach?  From that point on I was hooked on pawpaws. Later I found out that Dr. Compton had a grove of pawpaws growing on his property and he suggested I take a few and plant them at my [...]

7 12, 2020

The Mystery of the Ozark Oak Leaf Gall

By |2020-12-07T12:34:24-06:00December 7th, 2020|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2020|Tags: |

You see them in the leaf litter in late summer on hikes in our oak and hickory woodlands. They look like tan golf balls, complete with the stippled surface texture that helps golf balls fly a little farther than they would with a smooth surface. But these balls are light as a feather, with parchment thin skin and an array of cobweb like strings for an inner texture. Ozark hikers often wonder what sort of fruit these are and where they came from. It turns out these are but one of many different varieties of leaf gall created by insects as part of their life cycle. There are lots of different structures developing out of oak leaves when their growth process is hijacked by insect pests for their own purposes. More than 800 insect species create galls on oak twigs, and over 700 of them are wasps. These particular galls are so perfectly symmetrical that many observers figure they must be some kind of exotic fruit and not just a deformed oak leaf. Some leaf galls are not nearly as noticeable as the papery balls described here. In the case of the round “golf ball” structures in question we have [...]

7 12, 2020

Ozark Society Foundation Student Grant Opportunity

By |2020-12-07T12:38:49-06:00December 7th, 2020|Categories: News & Updates, Pack & Paddle, Winter 2020|Tags: |

The Ozark Society Foundation has selected the recipients of the 2020 OSF Youth Environmental Grants Program. The grants are awarded to organizations and schools that engage students in environmentalism and conservation projects. Priority was given to nonprofits who experienced an interruption to their revenue stream due to the pandemic. In 2020, the Youth Grants Programs awarded $10,000 in seven grants to regional programs in amounts ranging from $600-$2,000. The recipients include organizations and schools from urban and rural areas in Missouri and Arkansas: Learning with Iris, Acorn Elementary School, Mena, AR Students will build an iris garden at the 15-acre outdoor classroom. The iris garden will be used to teach life cycles, soil testing, reproduction, monarch migration, identify pollinators, graphing, art, and technology. Green Leadership Academy for Diverse Ecosystems (GLADE) Greater Ozarks Audubon Society, Springfield, MO. Students will attend a one-week environmental academy paired with year-round community improvement projects. Pineville Primary School Gardens, Pineville Primary School, Anderson, MO. Students will establish garden beds, bird feeders, a butterfly garden and plant trees to enhance environmental awareness among early childhood, special education, and primary classes. Butterfly Garden, Logan County “Old Jail” Museum, Paris, AR. Students will design, build, and maintain a butterfly [...]

7 12, 2020

Ozark Society Foundation News

By |2020-12-07T12:33:52-06:00December 7th, 2020|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2020|Tags: |

Much has been going on for the OSF. The youth grant program is underway, and “Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of Arkansas” is published. To get the youth grants started, board member Roslyn Imrie worked with community partner volunteers to define the grant criteria and select the best projects. For the trees book, board member Ken Leonard worked with the authors to complete the large manuscript and coordinated with state agencies and donors for resources and support. Both projects were well received by the public because they are clearly linked to our mission of education. The trees field guide continues the OSF tradition as a publisher of books. And the grants program introduces a new focus on youth engagement in conservation. Two additional activities are planned, the OSF Endowment Fund and the award for excellence in environmental writing. The Endowment Fund will assure our organization has longevity well into the future. The Endowment Fund will be part of an updated OSF financial strategy for annual budget and investment decisions. The award for excellence in environmental writing is planned for launch in March 2021, avoiding competing for public attention with the new book. Board membership has changed recently. Rex Robbins has [...]

7 12, 2020

Buffalo River Trails Maintenance Update

By |2020-12-07T12:33:32-06:00December 7th, 2020|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2020|Tags: |

For several years, construction on the Buffalo River Trail had been stalled due to a reroute needed near Little Rocky Creek (between Red Bluff Rd and South Maumee Rd). NPS notified me a couple days before Thanksgiving that we now have clearance to construct that reroute so I give thanks to the folks at NPS for making that happen. Turnout for the Autumn ‘20 trail work session in late October was small, hampered by the pandemic and perhaps by threats of copious rain as well. Without clearance to work on the reroute, we spent time on high-priority maintenance instead. On Friday I hiked into an area where the trail crosses a power line clearing in Boone Hollow. Due to the lack of forest canopy the brush grows fast and thick so this is one of our maintenance headache areas. I carved a path through the brush and began filling a big hole in the trail where a tree’s root ball used to be. The temperature dropped about 20 degrees and occasional wind gusts caused showers of yellow leaves. More people arrived Friday PM and Saturday AM. 4 of us headed to the Woolum area to address one of our biggest [...]

7 12, 2020

Ozark Society President’s Report for Winter 2020

By |2020-12-07T12:33:11-06:00December 7th, 2020|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2020|Tags: |

Opportunities in the Buffalo National Park The Ozark Society is committed to maintaining the water quality of the Buffalo National River and also improving the experience of park visitors – two opportunities present themselves now. Here are some activities we are pursuing. Pre-National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) planning: At the fall annual board meeting Laura Timby proposed that OS present the Buffalo River National US Park Service with two recommended changes in policy: Decrease congestion at access sites along the river by reducing long term parking on the gravel bars Require WAG bags for proper solid waste removal for all overnight floaters. Mark Foust, superintendent of the Buffalo National River for the US Park Service, tells me that these topics, as well as many more, are already on the list of topics under review in their comprehensive management plan. Mark Foust, BNR Superintendent Other topics include: dogs on wilderness hiking trails, controlled burns in the park, bike use in the park, horse trails, and unpaved roads. Please pass along other such issues to board members: Laura Timby at, Alice Andrews at, Stewart Noland at David Peterson at Cemetery Maintenance: There are at least 40 [...]

26 08, 2020

From Hogs to Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds, and Bats

By |2020-11-12T15:00:33-06:00August 26th, 2020|Categories: Fall 2020, Pack & Paddle|

As most of you know, our pollinators are in deep trouble and ultimately in danger of extinction. The causes are diverse and challenging. Beginning with honeybees, scientists report that a class of insecticides called “neonics” is mainly responsible for their stunning decline. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) states that nearly 40% of U.S. honeybee colonies collapsed last year, the worst loss ever! The neonics are thousands of times more toxic to bees than old DDT. Next there is glyphosate (Roundup). Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide, one of the most intensely applied pesticides in the world. It was originally manufactured by Monsanto, now owned by the German based Bayer. In fact, the World Health Organization classifies glyphosate as a likely carcinogen. Friends of the Earth reports that Germany (home of Bayer) announced that they are banning the pesticide, joining many countries in banning it or setting severe limits on its use. It has been so profitable that Bayer/Monsanto can spend millions promoting/defending its use. Call it corporate greed. According to NRDC, our EPA approved the sale of Bayer’s neonic products, imidacloprid and clothianidin, without considering their impacts on bees, butterflies and birds – a violation of the Endangered Species Act. [...]

26 08, 2020

Some Interesting and Confusing Ozark Vines

By |2020-11-12T15:01:23-06:00August 26th, 2020|Categories: Fall 2020, Pack & Paddle|

Some vines are a familiar part of the Ozark outdoors. We easily recognize grape vines and constantly worry about poison ivy. The latter makes us aware that Virginia creeper vines grow in the same environment as poison ivy and we know that three leaflets are bad while five are good (or at least harmless). The other vine we all know and often curse is the family of species known collectively as greenbrier. Greenbrier is common almost everywhere, entwining shrubs and encroaching on trails. The stems are thin but tough enough to trip a horse and are studded with spines that tear both flesh and clothing. Greenbrier is even a concern for gardeners, because birds spread the little blue-black berries far and wide, and once greenbrier seedlings are established in your flower beds, they are nearly impossible to extinguish. So, grapes are at least innocuous even if their fruit is either too sour or too seedy to bother with. Their vines keep mostly above our heads and their stems never carry any vicious spines. Two other common vines often escape notice because they look so much like the others we find so familiar. One of these is the rattan vine aka [...]

26 08, 2020

Fall Buffalo River Trail Construction – October 26-30th

By |2020-08-26T15:10:35-05:00August 26th, 2020|Categories: Fall 2020, Pack & Paddle|Tags: |

Mark your calendar! The Fall '20 Buffalo River Trail construction session is October 26-30. I and perhaps others will be doing some preparatory work the 23rd, 24th, and morning of the 25th as well. We'll be camping at Tyler Bend again in the main campground (sites #22-26 at no charge) so join us for a day, the weekend, or the whole week. I have some good news - for a change - regarding our obstacle at Little Rocky Creek. NPS has found a route they are happy with and has submitted it to the outside agencies that must sign-off on it. Approval will likely not come before September (if at all). I think this area is the last obstacle to an official opening of the trail so this is a high-priority project. Assuming it's approved, I anticipate having access to the work area from the private property above with a walk of about 3/4 mile to the work site, instead of a 2.5-mile hike from Red Bluff Road. NPS will likely have a UTV on-hand at least part of the time to haul tools. If all else fails, there's brush work and repairs that can be done elsewhere. Of course, [...]