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 [...]


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