Pack & Paddle

9 03, 2020

Experiencing a Virgin Forest in Arkansas at the Society Fall Meeting

By |2020-03-09T13:15:23-05:00March 9th, 2020|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2020|Tags: |

The mention of virgin Arkansas forest conjures up images of massive ranks of white oak columns or soaring canopies of stately shortleaf pine, but ecologists have found virgin forest hiding in plain sight all across America. These are modest forest plots that have remained uncut and undisturbed because they inhabit rough and non-arable land covered by crooked and unmerchantable trees. A decade ago Harvard researchers made news when they documented virgin forest adjacent to the Wachusett Mountain ski area within the metropolitan Boston area. More recently, the UARK tree ring lab showed that virgin chinquapin oak and post oak stands were growing on Mt. Kessler within Fayetteville city limits. Crooked and storm-battered trees there were as much as 300 years old. That was one factor that prompted the city’s purchase of the Mt. Kessler property to preserve it for future outdoor recreation. Ozark Society members recently had the opportunity to experience another Arkansas area of virgin forest – and one that covers a much more extensive area than the limited stand of oaks on Mt. Kessler. This was during our Society fall meeting in November at Queen Wilhelmina State Park lodge, where some of us hiked a five-mile section of [...]

12 12, 2019

Tom McClure Promotes Wilderness Ethics at the Fall Meeting

By |2020-01-21T18:03:56-06:00December 12th, 2019|Categories: News & Updates, Winter 2019|

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 [...]

12 12, 2019

Compton Day Celebration – August 10th

By |2020-01-21T18:04:16-06:00December 12th, 2019|Categories: News & Updates, Winter 2019|

Compton Gardens in Bentonville was the setting once again, on August 10 this year, for what has become an annual public event, since 2012, to commemorate the August 1 birthday of Dr. Neil Compton, founder of the Ozark Society. This year an invitation-only breakfast for 90 people from the Compton family and close friends, Compton Gardens board members and supporters, and Ozark Society officers was followed by the opening of exhibits on the grounds of Compton Gardens. Some 25 local environmental groups, museums, and vendors had displays and goods for sale in conjunction with Arkansas and the Ozarks outdoors. Nearly 15 volunteers staffed the Ozark Society’s three tables throughout the morning, and Fred Paillet, Steve Stephenson, and Ken Smith were on hand to sign their books. Compton Gardens provided birthday cake and ice cream for the several hundred pedestrians who moseyed on through after stopping at the Saturday Bentonville Farmers’ Market nearby. One highlight of the morning was the dedication of a new neon entrance sign to Compton Gardens, with remarks offered by the artist, Todd Sanders. Many members of Dr. Compton’s family and close friends were able to attend the dedication, including Dr. Compton’s two daughters, Ellen and Edra, [...]

12 12, 2019

High Pointing Part 8

By |2020-01-21T18:04:30-06:00December 12th, 2019|Categories: News & Updates, Winter 2019|

This is the eighth in a series of my adventure to visit as many of the fifty US states' highest points. Last time we looked at the odds and ends of high points I picked up as I went by. This time it's a trip I took in September of 2018 to visit 7 New England states: Rhode Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York and Maine. This was a very aggressive schedule, trying to get all 7 of these states in one 12 -day trip. The number of hikes that would require all day walking, the driving, scheduled stopping spots and weather all pushed me on this journey. It all started on Saturday September 22, 2018 when I flew to Providence, Rhode Island. Rhode Island This was my first time in Rhode Island. I would explore it more when I came back to fly home. I left my hotel and drove about an hour to the west center of this small state. Just off Rhode Island Hwy. 101, near Foster is Jerimoth Hill, 810 feet above sea level. You park at a sign on the roadside and walk about a quarter mile to the marker in a patch [...]

12 12, 2019

John Muir Trail Outing, High Sierras

By |2019-12-12T12:27:11-06:00December 12th, 2019|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2019|Tags: |

Steve Heye is organizing a multi-day backpack trip along the John Muir Trail in the California Sierras the Summer of 2020. The hike will be from the Onion Valley campground to the Whitney Portal, around 45 miles. The trip is currently in the planning stages and will require input from all those wishing to go. Because this area is high demand wilderness, we must apply for a permit to hike this trail. This is done by lottery and so dates of the trip will be dependent on a permit being issued to us. We will begin applying daily in January for permits issued for July dates and continue applying until we obtain a permit. We should know by April first if we have a permit and what the dates will be. The hike itself will probably be seven days/six nights with a day hike to the top of Mt. Whitney at 14,500 feet. The hike has several wilderness restrictions. Most of the hike is at an altitude of 9000 to 10,000 feet. Other restrictions deal with food containers, human waste, the size of the group, campsites and campfires. There has been early interest shown, so if you would like to [...]

12 12, 2019

In Celebration of the Farkleberry: Our Wild Ozark Blueberry

By |2020-01-21T18:04:58-06:00December 12th, 2019|Categories: News & Updates, Winter 2019|

Before there was Saturday Night Live there were the Farkleberry Follies. Founded in 1967, this performance convened every other year was a time when a collection of Arkansas journalists conducted skits to spoof state politics in general, and Governor Orval Faubus in particular. In a recent editorial, Rex Nelson reported that the main objective of the show was to “skewer the inflated egos of the political class.” The show got its name from an editorial by local cartoonist George Fisher who poked fun at the governor over a folksy meeting where Faubus had lectured a brush-clearing highway crew about the native species of shrubs in our region. One of the most obscure of these was the tree blueberry or farkleberry (Vaccinium arboretum) with its amusing name. There is a direct Ozark Society connection here because the family of current Ozark Society President, David Peterson, received one of the prized farkleberry awards bestowed from the hands of Dale Bumpers some 30 years ago on behalf of a folk music group founded by Fisher in Pulaski County. The shrub itself is especially common in the Ozarks and Ouachitas where it is found growing on the edges of cliffs and around rock ledges. [...]

12 12, 2019

C & H Hog Farm and CAFO Moratorium in the Buffalo River Watershed

By |2020-01-21T18:05:13-06:00December 12th, 2019|Categories: News & Updates, Winter 2019|

The last piglet at C&H was weened a couple of weeks ago and all hogs are due to be gone by January 2020. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will then proceed with the closure and remediation of the waste lagoons. The next step, making the temporary moratorium on medium and large swine CAFO’s permanent, was put on hold at the October 25, 2019 meeting of the Arkansas Pollution, Control & Ecology Commission (APC&E) when they unexpectedly voted to extend the comment period 90 days. The reason for the extension was the publication of the Big Creek Research and Extension Team's (BCRET) final report. The new deadline is now January 22, 2020. Although the initial 400 positive comments (out of 402) will be counted this time, we ask that Ozark Society members add additional comments in support of the DEQ rule change. Electronic submission: http://water.adeq.commentinput.com/?id=6pAef. The 300+ page BCRET report, available at the BCRET website, is highly technical but with readable summaries. While opponents of the moratorium will latch onto the phrase that C&H has had a “limited impact” on the Buffalo River, there is strong evidence that the Big Creek watershed has been contaminated with excess nutrients. This includes [...]

4 09, 2019

High Pointing Part Seven – The Odds and Ends

By |2019-12-12T11:44:24-06:00September 4th, 2019|Categories: Fall 2019, Pack & Paddle|

This is the seventh in a series of my adventures to visit as many of the fifty US states' highest points as I can. Last time we took look at two trips to visit the southern Appalachians in 2010 and 2013. You may have noticed that most of the stories have revolved around a specific trip to visit many sites in one big trip or take advantage of the fact that I'm in the vicinity of a high point. This time we will take a look at those high points I detoured to see because I was doing something else and it was nearby. The states covered in this episode are Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana and Ohio. Arizona If you've ever traveled out I-40 west towards Flagstaff, about fifty miles out you begin to see a lone peak growing bigger as you make your way west. This is the highest point in Arizona, Humphreys Peak, 12,633 feet above sea-level. In September 2004 I was part of an Arkansas group that was headed to Havasupai.  We had a second bunch on our permit from Tennessee and had to wait a day for them to fly to Las Vegas. To use our [...]

4 09, 2019

The Myth of the Thong Tree

By |2019-12-12T11:44:31-06:00September 4th, 2019|Categories: Fall 2019, Pack & Paddle|

Informal outdoor lore in the Ozarks often includes references to something called a thong tree.  These are trees that have been bent over and forced  to grow upright from the far end of the pushed-over stem.   Lore has it that these are deliberate signs created by native American and early explorers intended to point the way towards some objective such as campsite or mountain trail.  There are a number of reasons to suspect this kind of story.  There are no documented references to thong trees in the journals produced by early visitors to our area like Schoolcraft and Nuttall.  Moreover, there are so many examples of such bent over trees that it is hard to believe that the sparse distribution of early settlers would need to mark so many trails.  The single known reference to trees trimmed by explorers to mark the way comes from French traders in northern Canada where waterways were disorganized into a complex maze by past glacier activity and the landscape is covered by a monotonous spruce forest.  Branches would be pruned on spruce trees located on prominent points of land adjacent to portages or river tributaries as a way of marking these locations.  Because [...]

4 09, 2019

Ozark Society News and Happenings

By |2019-12-12T11:44:41-06:00September 4th, 2019|Categories: Fall 2019, Pack & Paddle|

C&H Buy Out – On June 13, 2019 Governor Hutchinson announced the “agreement” to close the C&H Hog Farm.  The buy-out money, 5.2 million from the Arkansas Department of Heritage and 1 million from Arkansas Nature Conservancy, is in escrow.   But more than two months later the 180-day close down has not started yet because of an issue over potential liens.  Still we are assured that the deal will stick.  Basically, the 9-page agreement establishes a conservation easement to the State of Arkansas which permanently prohibits CAFO operations on the property but does allow most other types of farming or even a housing development.  The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (now DEQ under the recent governmental reorganization) has the responsibility for directing facility remediation and continuing monitoring. Permanent Moratorium on Swine CAFO’s – The current moratorium on medium and large swine CAFO’s in the Buffalo River watershed is due to expire in 2020.  But it makes no sense to spend 6.2 million dollars to preserve “the historical, cultural, and recreational significance of the Buffalo National River” without making the moratorium permanent.  DEQ made that recommendation at the July 26 meeting of the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology and received [...]