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16 12, 2021

High Points Part 12: The Ticks Win Again!

By |2021-12-16T10:20:01-06:00December 16th, 2021|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2021|Tags: |

This is the Twelfth episode of my trips to visit as many of the fifty US States' highest points. In chapter eleven we looked at the trip I took in August of 2020 to Idaho and Nevada. This time it's a coast-to-coast endeavor to bag Maine and California in the summer of 2021. The goal for this year was to make a second run at Katahdin, Maine and then six weeks later to backpack on the John Muir Trail with Mt. Whitney, California as the highlight of that hike. Both trips were advertised as trips for the Ozark Society and required a lot of permit applications and logistics to pull them off. There was also a lot of physical conditioning required as both peaks would present challenges. By mid-May, most of the planning and prep had been done, so it was time to concentrate on trip one, Katahdin, in the Baxter State Park of Maine. Maine In Episode Eight I recalled my trip to the North Eastern states in September 2018. Among the peaks I attempted was Katahdin, Maine. It was a tough hike and I had to turn back because I ran out of time to make it safely [...]

16 12, 2021

The Great Boston Mountain Delta

By |2021-12-16T10:19:47-06:00December 16th, 2021|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2021|Tags: |

Long ago during the Coal Age the rugged Ozarks were the western coast of North America as rising and falling sea levels caused the scene to alternate between shallow tropical seas and coastal swampland. Continental drift had placed ancient Arkansas on the equator and the collision of land masses caused a great arc of rugged mountains to extend from eastern Canada around to become the ancestral Ouachita range. This collision had produced a single continuous land mass (Pangea) extending all the way over the south pole. That, in turn, caused great ice sheets to come and go, as driven by periodic shifts in the shape of the earth’s orbit – the same shifts that have caused ice sheets to come and go in our present Pleistocene era. With the gentle slope on the edge of our continent, river deltas extended back and forth between southern Illinois and central Arkansas as ice sheets expanded and contracted. All the while, the advancing continental collision and build-up of sediments derived from mountain ranges being created caused river deltas to extend ever farther into our area. The sandstone deposited by those deltas would become the backbone of the Boston Mountains we hike on today. [...]

16 12, 2021

Buffalo National River 50th Anniversary Activities

By |2021-12-16T10:19:37-06:00December 16th, 2021|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2021|Tags: |

MARCH 1, 2022 In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the March 1, 1972, signing date, the Ozark Society will host the following paddling and hiking activities on March 1, 2022. Where to Meet: Ponca Low Water Bridge Time: 9:30 a.m., March 1, 2022 Hiking: One or more hikes will be conducted depending on the number of participants. All participants should bring their own lunch and water and dress appropriately for the anticipated weather conditions. Hiking Contact: Please email Luke Parsch at or call 479-442-3817, if you plan to participate in the hike or if you have questions. Paddling: The first choice paddling trip will be from Ponca to Kyles, water level permitting. If the water is too low, the trip will be moved downstream. All participants should bring their own boat, PFD, water, and lunch. The vehicle shuttle will be conducted that morning by the trip participants before we launch. Paddling Contact: Please email Stewart Noland at or call 501-831-9908, if you plan to participate in the float or if you have questions. JUNE 13-18, 2022 In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Buffalo National River and 60th anniversary of the Ozark Society, the Ozark Society plans [...]

16 12, 2021

The Buffalo River Conservation Committee (BRCC)

By |2021-12-16T10:19:21-06:00December 16th, 2021|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2021|Tags: |

The Buffalo River Conservation Committee (BRCC) met at their quarterly meeting Monday, 11/30/21 in Marshall, AR. Secretary Wes Ward, Director of Agriculture, presided over the meeting. Chris Colclasure, Director of the Natural Resources Division within the Department of Agriculture was also present. As a reminder, Governor Asa Hutchinson established BRCC on September 23, 2019 to benefit water quality and resource management in the Buffalo River Watershed with emphasis on items that engage local stakeholders and landowners that have a positive impact on water quality and are beneficial for landowners in the watershed. Membership consists of the Sec. of Dept. of Agriculture; Sec. of Dept. of Energy and Environment; Sec. of Dept. of Health; and Sec. of Dept. of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. Funding for BRCC efforts is provided by Governor Hutchinson and the member agencies together to financially support BRCC. Members are required to work in cooperation with one another to identify opportunities to leverage each department’s unique expertise, relationships, focus areas and funding mechanisms in support of vitality of the watershed. BRCC includes a subcommittee of key stakeholders representing local landowners, conservation organizations, environmental and technical experts, representatives of the tourism industry, local county and municipal officials plus federal [...]

16 12, 2021

The Nature of Oaks: A Book Review

By |2021-12-16T10:19:05-06:00December 16th, 2021|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2021|Tags: |

BOOK REVIEW: The Nature of Oaks – The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Tree, by Douglas W Tallamy, 2021, 197 p. In this book an entomologist follows oaks through the year in describing the ecology of the tree. The Ozarks lie in what is nominally the oak-hickory forest zone, and witness trees studies show that oaks composed about 70% of the early historic forest when first encountered by land surveyors. This book presents oak ecology from a caterpillar’s point of view through the eyes of a veteran bug scientist, and there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. One of the most important class of oak predator, the weevil, uses “beaks” to drill eggs into acorns. Maturing larvae then make an exit hole to get into the ground after the acorns fall, while ant colonies use the convenient exit opening after they leave. Retention of withered winter leaves on lower branches of oaks is seen as a deterrent to browsers seeking nutritious buds. The author cites extreme variation of tree host species and their load of insect (caterpillar) consumers. Oaks have the largest array of such consumers compared to few for tulip tree and black gum. He suggests [...]

16 12, 2021

The Emerald Ash Borer is in Arkansas!

By |2021-12-16T10:18:55-06:00December 16th, 2021|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2021|Tags: |

In a recent visit to Pea Ridge Military Park, I was interested in seeing progress in eliminating invasive red cedar from the grounds. Cedar is notorious for invading old pastures in our area. Another tree that thrives in old fields is our white ash, a stately tree of upland forests. So, it was not unexpected to see large white ash trees left in the open forest when cedars are removed. What I had not expected to see was that these newly released ash trees (Pea Ridge photo) had large numbers of bare branches. I checked with a park ranger on his rounds and he verified that the emerald ash borer is now present at the park. We knew it was on its way and that all attempts at stopping the advance had been given up as futile (see the chapter of forest diseases in Ozark Forest Forensics). Pea Ridge 2021 This will be a serious loss to our old growth forests. And it’s not just white ash on uplands. Green ash is a major part of forests adjacent to wet prairie environments and stream bottoms. Blue ash is a relatively rare but important tree around limestone ledges such [...]

16 12, 2021

Bayou Chapter: Outdoor Wilderness Learning Center Trail Construction

By |2021-12-16T10:18:30-06:00December 16th, 2021|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2021|Tags: |

On Saturday, November 20, 2021 fourteen members of the Bayou Chapter spent the day constructing an equine trail at the OWL Center in Dubach, Louisiana. The Outdoor Wilderness Learning (OWL) Center is 800 acres of rolling hills, beautiful facilities, and programs designed to encourage teamwork, family bonds, character development, education, and fun! The trail was about 1/3 mile in length and had to be at least 10 feet wide in order to accommodate a horse with a rider and a walker on each side of the horse.  The trail also had to be very smooth with no roots sticking out. The reason for this is that the walkers need to be looking up at the riders and holding onto them and not looking at the ground.  First, the area was bush hogged, then we repeatedly ran a tractor pulling a harrow to clear the trail. Bayou Chapter Ozark Society (BCOS) volunteers then used sharpshooters, rakes, loppers, chainsaws and other tools at our disposal to smooth out the trails.  We also hauled dirt to fill in the holes that were left when the roots were dug out.  There were several 4 wheelers that repeatedly ran the trail to help smooth it [...]

16 12, 2021

An Update on Lake Sylvia Recreation Area

By |2021-12-16T10:16:19-06:00December 16th, 2021|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2021|Tags: |

In 1978, then Pulaski Chapter chair Rose Hogan invited my family to attend our first Ozark Society general meeting, to be held in the Great Hall of the historic girl scout camp at Lake Sylvia. The serene 18-acre lake, built by the CCC in 1936, is located at the eastern end of the Ouachita National Forest, just 38 miles west of Little Rock. The Great Hall features massive log beams, a kitchen, and austere rock walls. The camp, constructed by the Works Progress Administration (1936-1940), included rustic cabins, a recreation area and a campground. Unfortunately, the lack of a water supply caused the closing of the camp in 1979, and the facilities deteriorated. Efforts to restore the area began in 1992 when the camp was put on the National Register of Historic Places, but it remained in decline. But help is finally on the way. In July, the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism and the Ouachita National Forest issued a joint agreement making Lake Sylvia Recreation Area a part of Pinnacle Mountain State Park. 1.3 million dollars were dedicated to refurbishing the Great Hall, making the cabins habitable, repairing the leaky dam, and expanding recreational opportunities, including a [...]

13 09, 2021

Buffalo River Handbook Corrections

By |2021-09-13T15:33:12-05:00September 13th, 2021|Categories: Fall 2021, Pack & Paddle|Tags: |

Janet Parsch has asked that we publish this errata sheet of corrections to Ken Smith’s 2nd Edition of the Buffalo River Handbook: Buffalo River Handbook 2nd edition, 2018 Kenneth L. Smith Corrections: Replacement captions for rock formations on page 14 Page corrections p. 95, paragraph 3, line 2: change “414” to “429.” p. 96, 4th line from bottom: change “409- 417” to “424-432.” p. 123, 10th line from bottom: omit “(see page 424).” p. 143, 9th line from bottom: change “(see page 424)” to “(870-439-2502, daily 8:30 – 4:30).” p. 227, 1st line below “Buffalo Point has been...”: change “page 408” to “page 423.” p. 437, In the Index: under “Birds,” add “395” in boldface.

9 03, 2021

Enhancing your Ozark Experience with a Nature Journal

By |2021-03-09T14:29:37-06:00March 9th, 2021|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2021|Tags: |

For many of us the time we spend in the outdoors amounts to the best part of our busy lives. That has prompted me to invent ways to make those times remain with me as long as possible. One way to do that is by keeping a natural history journal. It could start with the very practical aspects of a small notebook with recorded dates such as the time when a favorite wildflower can be found in bloom in some secluded ravine, or the best date to see migrating raptors at your favorite mountain overlook. It is always useful to have such information available for future reference. My interest in nature journals started early during my days in New England where I enjoyed John Hay’s poetic calendar of the arrival of spring on Cape Cod (The Run). Then on to Thoreau’s famous journal while on sabbatical and exploring the woods around my rented home in areas adjacent to Walden Pond. I soon had my own personal copies of the Lewis and Clark journals while living in Montana, and then the Ozark and Ouachita journals of Schoolcraft and Nuttall after arriving in Arkansas. All of these serve as useful examples of [...]