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28 08, 2018

Ozark Resources Watchdogs

By | 2018-08-28T14:56:15+00:00 August 28th, 2018|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2018|Tags: |

On April 7, 2018, 17 people seated around a large table at the Omni Center in Fayetteville Arkansas exchanged ideas, options and information about ways to successfully remove threats to our rivers and their watersheds. Two additional participants communicated with the group via the Internet. Goals included finding common ground as we strive toward success, and ways to promote effective communication among different organizations. This luncheon meeting was in conjunction with the Public Meeting, What’s Next for our Buffalo River, held at Mt. Sequoyah in Fayetteville on the evening of the same day. For additional information on this evening event please see: http://buffaloriveralliance.org/event-2865333 Individuals and Organizations included: ·    Terry Spense* of Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP) ·     Ozark River Stewards ·    Buffalo River Watershed Alliance ·      Mulberry River Society ·     Rita Grifflin,* Mayor of Harman Arkansas ·     Kings River Watershed Partnership ·     The Ozark Society ·    The OMNI Center ·     White River Waterkeeper ·     NW Arkansas Worker Justice organization ·     Animal Legal Defense Fund ·     Peter Lehner,* attorney for Earthjustice ·     Kelly Hunter Foster* of Waterkeeper Alliance's (Pure Farms, Pure Waters campaign) ·     Center for Biological Diversity ·     Friends of the North Fork and White River * Note: These folks served on the panel or spoke at the evening [...]

28 08, 2018

The Trouble with Mussels

By | 2018-08-28T14:56:25+00:00 August 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 [...]

28 08, 2018

High-Pointing the States: Part Two

By | 2018-08-28T14:56:35+00:00 August 28th, 2018|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2018|Tags: |

Here is another installment of the adventures I’ve had trying to conquer the highest point in each state of the US. Last time I started showing you the highest points in the states that border Arkansas. This time we will finish the list with Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. A very diverse set of peaks. Ok, two of them are hills! Texas Like Oklahoma's highest point, Texas' high point is way out west in the Guadeloupe National Park, south of Carlsbad New Mexico. Guadeloupe Peak (8751 feet) is on the end of a long ridge running out of New Mexico south into west Texas. Around the ridge is the high plains desert. This is real “Old West” country, mesquite, cacti, hot and dry. The park is on US 62 about 25 miles south of Carlsbad Cavern. The hike up the peak is a moderate day hike on well-worn trail. In fact, you can ride a horse to a corral to near the top if its sure footed. I did this day hike as part of a trip to explore the park on September 29, 2008. My good friend, Gary Alexander did the hike with me and it became the 8th high point [...]

6 08, 2018

Highlands Chapter Goes Green

By | 2018-08-28T14:56:46+00:00 August 6th, 2018|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2018|Tags: |

In an attempt to uphold the tenants of the Ozark Society, the Highlands Chapter has initiated an effort to reduce disposable waste. It started at the Chapter meetings as we switched to restaurant style cups, silverware and utensils. Support was nearly universal as members stepped up to wash dishes and remarked about the long overdue process of using recyclable products. An unforeseen benefit was the reduction in our storage of disposable products. We stored hundreds of disposable plastic cups, and stacks of paper plates; now we have about 30 tumblers, 30 plates and about 40 coffee cups, and we don’t run to the store as often. Cloth napkins maybe next on our list! The OSHC Buffalo River Classic was our next challenge. We famously produced about 5 bulging bags of trash. Here we asked participants to bring their own non-disposable eating utensils, and we brought a set of our dishes for the event in case a few people forgot to bring their own stuff. We’re all new to this and admittedly there was some confusion as some members brought their own disposable plates and forks or they brought disposable items for the Highlands Chapter. It’s a learning process; we’ll get there. [...]

8 03, 2018

High-Pointing the States: Part One – Arkansas and Some Neighbors

By | 2018-08-06T12:47:30+00:00 March 8th, 2018|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2018|Tags: |

When I was 17, our family took a trip to the Smoky Mountains from our home in Nashville. While there, I happened to notice that the highest point in Tennessee was just down the road from our hotel. It was a beautiful summer's day so we piled into the car and made our way to Clingmans Dome (6644 feet). Little did I know a lifetime hobby had begun. We may have done at least one High Point of one state or another. Maybe you have been lucky to visit 5 or 10 high points as you passed by on your way to doing a trip to somewhere. Then, there are people like me: High-Pointers, people who have a few points under their belt and want more. We are the folks who purposely plan trips so a state high point can be climbed. Sort of like Pokémon for hikers. I currently have 32 high points under my belt and I am planning to increase that number later this summer. For me to cover my journey properly I am breaking the story into pieces and our Pack and Paddle Editor will print additional entries over the next few issues of Pack and Paddle. To [...]

8 03, 2018

The Cucumber Magnolia

By | 2018-08-06T12:47:50+00:00 March 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 [...]

8 03, 2018

Nutrient Trading in Arkansas – Good or Bad Idea?

By | 2018-08-06T12:47:55+00:00 March 8th, 2018|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2018|Tags: |

Anna Weeks of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel recently set up a meeting between several environmental groups and Alan Gates, the lawyer from Little Rock who wrote the current Arkansas nutrient trading law, and who now represents the 4 cities in Northwest Arkansas which hope to establish nutrient trading in the Illinois River watershed.  The basic idea is this.  Suppose that a watershed has a goal of meeting nutrient limits, say total maximum daily loads (TMDL) of total phosphorous (TP).  There are two primary sources: point sources (wastewater facilities, industry, etc.) and nonpoint sources (agriculture, urban/suburban runoff).  If a point source finds that it is much more expensive to reduce their discharge of TP than the cost from non-point sources, then the point source can pay the nonpoint source to reduce TP discharges, and take credit for the reduction. It’s a win for the watershed. TP levels are reduced and everyone gains financially. The Illinois River watershed has had a long history of excessive poultry litter application, causing very high TP loads and massive algae blooms in Oklahoma streams and lakes.  This problem culminated in 1992 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Arkansas must abide by a stringent Oklahoma TP limit, [...]