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 [...]

6 12, 2022

Climate Change Hits Donkey Hard

By |2022-12-06T11:05:44-06:00December 6th, 2022|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2022|Tags: |

By Jennifer Ailor, OS Climate Change Committee Chair and Roscoe’s Mom Hi, I’m Roscoe, a rascal of a donkey living in the Ozarks. Mom asked me to honk a few words about how hard it’s become to find hay and pasture for me and my buddies, Josie, my sweet donkey friend; Fat Abby, the mule; and Sierra, the old mare who heads up the herd. In the winter, we’re burdened by the presence of Rosie, a fast-talking, greedy fox trotter who’s taking some R&R from riding trails. This is the real Roscoe!        This summer was so dang hot and dry even for us hardy donkeys. Why, Mom had to settle for hay not as tasty as last year’s and short of what she’ll need for us equines to eat this winter. We went for 60 days without a drop of rain, and the pasture was so dry even the buckbrush wasn’t fit to eat. It’s been hot and dry in the Ozarks before—I well remember the summer of 2012—but this climate change is bringing on the heat and dry a good month early and lasting longer. My eating is suffering! I know the horse and cows [...]

6 12, 2022

Highpoints Part 13

By |2022-12-06T11:02:31-06:00December 6th, 2022|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2022|Tags: |

By Steve Heye, Pulaski Chapter Outings Chair California      In early 2020, I had organized a backpacking trip in the California Sierras that would include a day hike to the top of Mt. Whitney. Seven other folks had signed on and I had permits in hand for the trip to take place in early July. Then, in March, Covid came on the scene. Though we could have gone, everyone agreed that we would pass on the trip.       Twenty twenty-one looked much better. I still had the same plan: walk from Onion Valley to the John Muir Trail and I got the permits, we recruited four others to join us and everything was a go this time. We arrived in late July and started the hike after some acclimatizing. The guys did the hike and they had a great time. Meanwhile, I had to turn around the first day, suffering from what would be diagnosed as Rocky Mt. Spotted Fever. Bummer, turned back again.        As New Year's 2022 rolled by, I wondered if I could do Whitney's summit, then finish at Whitney Portal.  I thought I was capable of doing this hike, so I [...]

6 12, 2022

News from Northwest Arkansas

By |2022-12-06T10:56:48-06:00December 6th, 2022|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2022|Tags: |

By Pattie Heitzman, Highlands and Sugar Creek Chapters      It started way back in the summer of 2021.  Lowell Collins asked for volunteers to form committee to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Buffalo National River, America’s first National River.  She asked, and they came.  A dedicated and enthusiastic group of people from both the Highlands and Sugar Creek Chapters met and brainstormed.  Out of those meetings came two subgroups.         The awesome leader of that first subgroup was Janet Parsch.  Under Janet’s leadership they formed a committee to plan a networking event.  The fruits of their labor culminated in a fabulous dinner and evening this past March.  It was a successful gathering represented by members of over 30 environmental organizations. It lit a flame to focus on environmental issues to benefit our natural state.        The second subgroup also aimed to network but went in a different direction.  The three members of that committee; Peggy Bulla, Jeff Montgomery, and myself, Pattie Heitzman, created over a series of meetings a Traveling Information and Display Booth.   Our mission was to educate and spread awareness of the Ozark Society, and to the Buffalo River’s [...]

6 12, 2022

News from the Ozark Society Foundation

By |2022-12-06T10:47:35-06:00December 6th, 2022|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2022|Tags: |

By Marvin Schwartz, Ozark Society Foundation Chair The OSF Grant Committee has finished reviewing the proposals submitted for the 2022/23 Youth Engagement in Conservation grant cycle. The committee received 15 grant requests totaling $32,752.95. After reading the proposals, reviewing the budgets, and meeting via Zoom to debate the projects, we have decided to approve full or partial funding to 9 organizations for a grand total of $14,531.05. The selected youth grants for 2023 are listed. Please recognize Grant Committee chair Roslyn Imrie, OSF board member Susan Young, and the community members who assisted in this next year's program. Also, the Sassafras Award book is soon to be delivered to a printer. We are hopeful to announce the winner and have books for distribution early next year. Ozark Society Foundation Youth Grants 2023, Summary of Grant Awards: Arco Iris Earth Care Location: Newton County Arkansas Scope: 15 BIPOC students, 6th-12th grade Proposal Summary: Arco Iris Earth Care will work to reach BIPOC in rural parts of Arkansas. They will connect these students with nature through hikes and invasive plant removal projects. Amount Requested: The organization requested supplies such as flyers, snacks, and educational materials for their program as well as fuel and transportation [...]

6 12, 2022

In Memoriam: Dr. Sally Hubbard

By |2022-12-06T10:43:55-06:00December 6th, 2022|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2022|Tags: |

By Jennifer Ailor, Climate Change Committee Chair      The passing of Dr. Sally Hubbard—simply Sally as she preferred to be called—in July was an irreplaceable loss to the Schoolcraft Chapter and the greater Ozark Society. Throughout her career as a physician at the Missouri State University health clinic, she made her mark as a compassionate caregiver and an active supporter of Lady Bears basketball, other sports and causes.      But within Schoolcraft and the greater Ozark Society, anyone who “experienced” Sally knew she thrived on adventure and Nature’s challenges. The worse the rain or cold or mishap, the better the trip. She experienced all that and more on her first momentous river float in the 1970s; instead of saying “never again,” she asked, “when’s the next trip.” She went on to become a skilled river runner, and woe be you if you shared her canoe or raft and didn’t match her skills.      Sally became the business lynchpin of Schoolcraft, serving over the decades as secretary, treasurer, membership chair, newsletter editor and general organizer. Likewise, in the greater Ozark Society, she served at least 15 years as board secretary, as well as organizing and participating in [...]


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