3 06, 2024

Our Spring Meeting at the Schoolcraft Chapter in Pictures

By |2024-06-03T14:27:00-05:00June 3rd, 2024|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2024|Tags: |

By all our wonderful photographers! Thank you to the Springfield Schoolcraft Chapter for hosting a great get-together May 18-19th.  We have a symposium on Climate Change actions with Doug Tallamy, a board meeting, native plant sale, a potluck, music and dancing, a historical reenactment of Henry Schoolcraft, and a cave tour! The Rockspan Barn Dance The Tumbling Creek Cave Tour Bob Kipfer as Henry Schoolcraft The Rockspan Potluck

3 06, 2024

Youth Grant Announcement

By |2024-06-03T14:15:40-05:00June 3rd, 2024|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2024|Tags: |

By Roslyn Imrie and Lowell Collins The Ozark Society Youth Grant program has been empowering young people to take environmental action into their own hands for four years. The committee recently approved eight projects with 459 participants for a total of $8,409 ranging from $430 - $1,750.  Approved projects include four related to native gardens, butterfly habitat, and riparian restoration from Ft Smith Southside High School, Ozark Riverways Foundation, West Fork Public Library, and James River Basin Partnership. Springdale Tyson Middle School was awarded funds to produce environmental films to share with their peers. The Heritage High School project focused on composting the schools’ food waste while the Eco-Fashion Club at Fayetteville High School was awarded funds for their textile recycling project. Learning more about bats and creating bat houses is the goal for Malvern Schools. The Youth Grants program was created to inspire the next generation to take part in protecting the Ozarks and nearby natural areas. Since its inception in 2020, thirty-three proposals totaling $50,782 have created opportunities for 7,500 children from kindergarten to 12th grade. Engaging youth in hands-on conservation and environmental stewardship is a key component of the Ozark Society’s mission. The [...]

3 06, 2024

Some Deeper Thoughts on What Makes an Endangered Species

By |2024-06-03T14:07:34-05:00June 3rd, 2024|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2024|Tags: |

By Fred Paillet, OS Education Chair      Recent news items about preservation of endangered species regularly raise questions about exactly what a species is and how it differs from other similar less-threatened relatives.  For example, the eastern red wolf is only maintained under controlled breeding with a very limited wild colony or two – maintained by testing all pups and destroying those with traces of coyote genes.  Now, the New York Times had a piece on the large-scale destruction of a barred owl population in the northwest to save another species.  We all remember the great hullabaloo about saving the spotted owl by preserving the last fragments of that owl’s habitat in old-growth redwood forests.  Now, human habitat manipulation has created a corridor of woodland across the great plains to allow the eastern barred owl to expand its range into Washington and Oregon.              We remember from biology 101 that two similar species are distinct when they are unable to produce fertile offspring after mating. That can happen through genetic incompatibility, or just because they live on separate continents.  Spotted and barred owls look a bit different (spots versus bars), but only range [...]

3 06, 2024

Tales From the Trail: Arkansas History and the Athens-Big Fork Part 2

By |2024-06-03T14:03:29-05:00June 3rd, 2024|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2024|Tags: |

By Perry Hill, Bayou Chapter Ozark Society CORRECTION REGARDING ORIGINS OF THE ABF TRAIL In the first installment of this article last month, I stated my opinion that at least parts of the ABF are 400-600 years old, based on presence of Caddo Indian quarries on the Trail. Since that time, I have corresponded with Dr. Laura Donaldson (Archeologist for the U.S. Forest Service), and it seems my estimate was a bit off. According to Dr. Donaldson, results of comparative studies and carbon dating show early Native Americans were using the south end of the Trail to hunt and gather by at least 6,000 BC. That means at least that part of the ABF is 8,000 years old or more! Dr. Donaldson also reported there is evidence of short-term camps and longer-term settlements for centuries, all along and near the Trail. Furthermore, she believes the general route of the Trail has changed very little over time, and that some sections follow the ancient trail bed exactly. So when one is on the ABF, there are places where you are literally following in the footsteps of the Ancients. Outlaws and Local Folklore       Many have probably heard the [...]

3 06, 2024

Sassafras Hiking Award Winner Jason Brocar

By |2024-06-03T13:58:22-05:00June 3rd, 2024|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2024|Tags: |

By Tim Mason, OS Vice President      Jason Brocar resides in South Dakota, so completing all four trails in less than twelve months required a great deal of logistical planning on his part. Prior to settling in South Dakota, Jason served our country in the Marine Corp and later in the Army. Hence, Jason was dubbed with the trail name MAV, short for Marine Army Veteran. Jason found backpacking by coincidence while looking for outdoor jobs after retiring from the military. This led to his successful pursuit of thru hiking the Appalachian Trail, but he did not stop there. His impressive hiking resume is closing in on 10,000 miles, as he has conquered the Continental Divide Trail, the Pyrenees and GR11 in France and Spain, the Scottish National Trail, the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim, the South Dakota Centennial Trail, the Palmetto Trail, half of the Arizona Trail and half of the Pacific Crest Trail. He plans to complete the remaining 1,300 plus miles of the Pacific Crest Trail starting in July this summer.      I asked Jason about his equipment, as today’s long-distance hikers have a plethora of quality items to choose from. He said he [...]

3 06, 2024

Sassafras Hiking Award Winner Amy Nicholson

By |2024-06-03T13:51:44-05:00June 3rd, 2024|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2024|Tags: |

By Brian Thompson, OS President When she’s not hiking, Amy Nicholson is a mechanical engineer in Olathe, Kansas.   She has enjoyed hiking ever since she was a teenager but she had never done any serious distance hiking up until she paired up with a friend who had completed the Appalachian Trail.   She and her friend decided to hike the Ouachita trail, west to east.   Her friend dropped out mid-way, but Amy kept going.  “I was hooked.”   She finished the Ouachita as a “thru hike," but not before encountering some pretty serious storms when she was thirty miles out from Little Rock.  These days she uses the Far Out app for logistics as well as an InReach for checking weather.  When shelters are not handy, Amy is a confirmed hammock camper. Amy did the Ozark Highlands Trail in sections, some of which was during a very wet May.   She completed it to the east, but due to a very rainy week, she had to return west to complete the portion from the Lake Fort Smith trailhead to Dockery’s gap after Frog Bayou’s flow had lowered enough to allow for a safe crossing.   When I [...]

3 06, 2024

Water Quality Updates

By |2024-06-03T13:48:07-05:00June 3rd, 2024|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2024|Tags: |

By Brian Thompson, OS President Proposed Rule 37 - Nutrient Trading The municipalities of NW Arkansas are under a lot of pressure to reduce nutrient output due to the longstanding controversy with Oklahoma over the effects of excessive nutrients on the Illinois River.  Every successive upgrade to sewer processing results in expenses that are orders of magnitude greater than previous nutrient reduction upgrades.  This is one reason why we’ve challenged the land application of industrial waste, as allowing those applications in the same watershed is only adding to the problem.  To ADEQ’s credit, they have halted granting those permits for the moment.      Searching for other solutions, ADEQ has proposed a new “rule” to allow something called Nutrient Trading.  In short, this would allow municipalities to increase nutrients in their effluent output provided they secure a “credit" from landowners to reduce non-point source nutrient run-off.   We think this is an idea worth exploring as bringing more focus to non-point sources of nutrients is long overdue.   Long standing practices of land applying poultry litter and industrial waste has resulted in high concentrations of phosphorus in pastures across Arkansas.   As always, the difficulty is in the details. [...]

1 03, 2024

Ouachita National Forest Mine Permit Denied

By |2024-03-05T11:13:09-06:00March 1st, 2024|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2024|Tags: |

By Carolyn Shearman, OS Communications Chair In January of 2023 the Pulaski Chapter of the Ozark Society was made aware of a proposed 32-acre Crystal Quartz mine being planned in the Ouachita National Forest within the Lake Winona watershed.  Lake Winona is one of the 2 main drinking water sources for Central Arkansas Water (CAW) in the greater Little Rock area and serves about 100,000 of their 500,000 customers. Pulaski Chapter received a draft of the US Forest Service’s Environmental Assessment (EA) on January 22, 2023 that tentatively approved the project pending a 30-day Public Comment period.  We, like Central Arkansas Water, strongly opposed the project and felt that several issues in the proposal presented a significant risk to water quality and the habitat of the area and we chose to comment on our concerns. Following that comment period the US Forest Service attempted to modify the proposal so that the risks were mitigated and in July of 2023 resubmitted a revised EA for only CAW and the Ozark Society to comment on since we were the original objectors.  Again, both organizations found significant risks remaining in the proposal and resubmitted comments stating our issues.  CAW staff even sent [...]

1 03, 2024

Sassafras Hiking Award Winner Katie Ellsworth

By |2024-03-01T15:21:36-06:00March 1st, 2024|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2024|Tags: |

By Stewart Noland, OS Archive Chair The fourth Sassafras Hiking Award recipient is Katherine (Katie) Ellsworth of Bentonville.  Katie moved from Alaska to Bentonville in October 2022, and hiked all four Sassafras Hiking Award trails since then – an impressive feat. Katie began hiking as a teenager, and has maintained an interest in hiking since then.  She has hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and a portion of the Continental Divide Trail.  Katy likes to hike with new hikers, and discuss with them what gear and pace works for them.  She is open to different ways of doing things on the trail, sharing what she knows, and learning from others.  Her experiences on the trail have led her to believe if you need something, the trail will provide. Katie’s most scary trail experiences have involved river crossings, having once lost all of her gear on an Eagle River Trail river crossing in Alaska.  Katie’s trail advice is to know your boundaries, but do not give up too soon. Katie’s best trail is the Pacific Crest Trail, with its incredible scenery.  Her favorite Sassafras Hiking Award trail is the Ozark Trail, where she saw numerous wildlife and enjoyed [...]

1 03, 2024

What Can You Say to Climate Deniers?

By |2024-03-01T15:18:06-06:00March 1st, 2024|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2024|Tags: |

By Fred Paillet, OS Education Chair One of the most often cited facts by climate deniers is the known history of climate fluctuation in the recent geologic record.  The idea is that we know climate fluctuates naturally, so that changes in weather patterns need not be related to any man-made condition. When those of my generation were educated about climate the idea that vast ice sheets once covered northern states was already established. The cause of those past conditions was a mysterious natural part of the earth’s climate system.  Any human-induced climate effects would surely pale in comparison with these much more dramatic and well-documented changes. In fact, we should really appreciate the divine blessing of fossil fuels.  They ensure our comfortable survival when climate turns colder.  They provide for air conditioning and irrigation when things get hotter.  Global warming is just a distraction created by liberals to cripple the energy industry in its effort to insulate us from inevitable natural climate variation. Those much-hyped feedback effects are just so much hypothetical malarky. Sixty years after I graduated from high school, the cause of ice age climate is much better understood.  The real lesson from that understanding is how [...]

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