Entry Category: Environment

Alexander, Harold Edward

Harold Edward Alexander was a conservationist and stream preservationist who was a proponent of conservation and wildlife management in Arkansas from the 1950s to the 1980s. The Harold E. Alexander Wildlife Management Area in Sharp County was named in recognition of his service to Arkansas conservation and his long career with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). He has been called “the father of Arkansas conservation.” Harold Alexander was born on November 23, 1909, in Lawrence, Kansas, the son of Edward Alexander, the treasurer for the city of Lawrence, and Ruby Pringle Alexander. Alexander was the oldest of four boys. He went to Lawrence High School and graduated from the University of Kansas in 1939 with two years of …

Arkansas Chapter of the Sierra Club

aka: Sierra Club
The Arkansas Chapter of the Sierra Club was established in 1982 as the state chapter of the national Sierra Club. Its mission is to explore, enjoy, and protect the planet; to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out those objectives. The Arkansas Chapter of the Sierra Club traces its origin to the Ozark Headwaters Group (OHG) of the Ozark Chapter of the Sierra Club in Missouri. In 1972, Barry Weaver, then the chair of the Highland Chapter of the Ozark Society, proposed that Arkansans with Sierra Club membership form …

Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment (ADEE)

Established in 2019 as part of the Transformation and Efficiencies Act of 2019 (Act 910), the new umbrella agency called the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment (ADEE) absorbed the former Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), which became a division, and the Arkansas Geological Survey. The Arkansas Division of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is Arkansas’s regulatory body in the area of environmental protection. It is headquartered in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the state government’s first “green” building. ADEQ operates seventeen field offices throughout the state. ADEQ’s first incarnation was the Arkansas Water Pollution Control Commission, created by Act 472 of 1949. Originally operating under the auspices of the Arkansas Department of Health, the commission was given the power …

Arkansas Native Plant Society

The Arkansas Native Plant Society (ANPS) was established in 1980 to promote, first, the preservation, conservation, study, and enjoyment of the native plants of Arkansas; second, the education of the public regarding the value of native plants and their habitats; and, third, the publication of related information. Regular meetings are held in the spring and fall of each year to conduct business, give presentations, and embark on field trips. The ANPS newsletter, Claytonia, is published preceding the spring and fall meetings. On November 17, 1979, consideration to form ANPS took place at the annual Arkansas Biological Curriculum Development Conference on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway (Faulkner County). In a session discussing endangered plants, the …

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC)

The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) works to conserve the state’s natural diversity and is charged with the responsibilities of 1) establishing and protecting the Arkansas System of Natural Areas; 2) collecting and maintaining information on the rare plant, animal, and high-quality natural communities of Arkansas; and 3) providing data and information regarding the natural diversity of Arkansas. Original legislation in Acts 297 of 1971 and 112 of 1973 spurred the creation of the ANHC. In 1971, Act 297 charged the Arkansas Planning Commission with establishing a system for the preservation of natural areas and with providing for the inventory, acquisition, and protection of such areas. The department developed a plan for meeting these goals, the Arkansas Natural Area Plan, …

Arkansas System of Natural Areas

The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission’s (ANHC) System of Natural Areas contains some of the best examples of many of the state’s ecosystems. Natural areas such as Railroad and Roth prairies protect the last few acres of tallgrass in east Arkansas’s Grand Prairie. The Gap Creek Natural Area and Cossatot River State Park–Natural Area preserve quality examples of Ouachita Mountain upland streams. The Terre Noire Natural Area represents the best remaining tracts of blackland prairie in the state. Natural areas such as these protect the rarest elements of Arkansas’s natural heritage. Birth of the System Arkansas’s System of Natural Areas underwent three periods of development. From 1975 to 1980, sites were chosen from those well known to conservationists. The Singer Forest …

Arkansas Water Works and Water Environment Association

Comprising the operators of water and sewer systems statewide and their affiliates, the Arkansas Water Works and Water Environment Association has met annually in all but one year since 1931 with the goal of improving water quality through high standards and professionalism in the field. With the lead of the American Water Works Association, and in harmony with efforts under way in other states, the first meeting of what was then called the Arkansas Water Works Conference took place at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1931 and drew forty-seven registered members. There, a slate of officers was elected, and the group resolved to form a permanent organization that would meet annually in cooperation with the …

Arkansas Wildlife Federation

The mission of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation (AWF) is “to advocate for the sustainable use of Arkansas’ wildlife habitats and natural resources for future generations.” The nonprofit AWF works to conserve and protect land and water habitat in Arkansas, as well as game and fish. Market hunters of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had hunted much of the native wildlife in Arkansas—such as the buffalo, elk, wolf, and trumpeter swan populations—to extinction, near extinction, or extirpation. Market hunters also decimated most of the native deer, black bear, mountain lion, and turkey populations within Arkansas. To protect the wildlife remaining in Arkansas, the AWF was founded in 1936, the same year as the formation of its parent organization, the National …

Audubon Arkansas

Audubon Arkansas was established in 2000 as the twenty-fifth state office of the National Audubon Society through a seed grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. Audubon Arkansas’s mission is to inspire and lead Arkansans in environmental education, resource management, habitat restoration, bird conservation, and enlightened advocacy. In 2003, Audubon Arkansas was recognized as “Conservation Organization of the Year” by the Arkansas Wildlife Federation. Robert Shults was the founding board chairman of Audubon Arkansas. Shults, an Arkansan, served on the National Audubon Society board of directors from 1980 to 1986. The chairman of the National Audubon Society at the time was Donal C. O’Brien. O’Brien and Shults both served on the board of trustees of the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. …

Back-to-the-Land Movement

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, nearly one million people throughout the United States left urbanized areas for rural settings, intent on establishing themselves as “back-to-the-landers.” While many of these people moved to the Northeast or the West, which had long been centers of counter-cultural movements, a significant number were drawn to the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. It is difficult to state how many back-to-the-landers (BTLs) moved to Arkansas between 1968 and 1982, but rough estimates suggest that it was somewhere between 2,000 and 6,000. Nearly all of the BTLs who moved to the region were in their early to mid-twenties. On the whole, the BTLs were well educated, with over seventy percent having completed an undergraduate degree. Approximately …

Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge

The Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) consists of 14,800 acres of forest wetlands and croplands lying along the Little Red River in White County. The refuge provides a habitat for migratory waterfowl and other birds and various endangered species, as well as recreational and environmental educational opportunities. The refuge is located approximately two miles south of Bald Knob (White County). The Bald Knob refuge was acquired as part of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan in 1993. Most of the land consists of a rice farm that had been owned by John Hancock Insurance Company. Unlike many wildlife refuges, Bald Knob NWR includes cropland that continues to be farmed, but much of the crop is left unharvested to feed …

Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area

When Lake Conway was completed in 1951 in the Palarm Creek bottoms of southern Faulkner County, land for the development of the lake was left over, some of it being government surplus as part of Camp Joseph T. Robinson. Because the area was home to a wide variety of wildlife—deer, squirrels, and migrating ducks especially—the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), which had overseen the creation of Lake Conway, created Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area (WMA), which encompasses Grassy Lake. Bell Slough WMA covers 2,040 acres and is a mix of moist-soil wetlands, bottomland hardwood forest, prairie, and upland hardwood and pine forest. The wetlands are managed as a waterfowl resting area, with water-control structures that allow the AGFC to …

Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge is one of the oldest inland national wildlife refuges. This 11,038-acre area is located in northeast Arkansas outside of Manila (Mississippi County), eighteen miles west of the Mississippi River. The refuge is one of over 540 national wildlife refuges administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and is an important link for birds using the Mississippi migration corridor. The area was a free-flowing river system until the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811–1812 shifted the land to its current environment of swamps and lake. The major habitat types of the refuge are bottomland hardwood forest, wooded swampland, and open water. These natural habitats support a wide variety of mammal, bird, and fish species. There …

Bioregionalism

aka: Ozark Area Community Congress
Bioregionalism is both a deep ecological philosophy and an apolitical, decentralized, volunteer egalitarian movement. Whereas environmentalists conserve to preserve the human environment—an anthropocentric view—bioregionalists re-inhabit, living simply and sustainably, to preserve all species—a biocentric view. Bioregionalists hold that if humanity is to avoid ecological and social collapse, people must recognize, nurture, sustain, and celebrate relations to land, air, plants, and animals; springs, rivers, lakes, groundwater, and oceans; and families, friends, neighbors, and community. They also engage in local systems of production and trade whenever possible. A bioregion is a geographically defined landform, bounded by watersheds with distinct plants and animals. The Ozark Plateau is one of fifty discrete ecoregions on the North American continent. The Ozark Highlands cover north-central and northwestern …

Black Fork Mountain Wilderness

The Black Fork Mountain Wilderness is located in the Ouachita National Forest in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. At an elevation of 2,403 feet, the east-west-oriented Black Fork Mountain, formed by a geologic uplift, features rock screes, or flows. The large rock flows, sometimes called “glaciers,” and sandstone bluffs stand above a forest dominated by oak and shortleaf pine. The U.S. Congress designated 13,139 acres as the Black Fork Mountain Wilderness in 1984. Managed by the U.S. Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and shared by Oklahoma and Arkansas (Arkansas has approximately 8,350 acres, while Oklahoma has approximately 4,789 acres), this area contains the thirteen-mile-long rugged ridge of Black Fork Mountain. In both states, the ridge rises to …

Blanchard Springs Caverns

Blanchard Springs Caverns (BSC) is a magnificent limestone cave system starting more than 200 feet underground in the Sylamore Ranger District of the Ozark–St. Francis National Forest, fifteen miles northwest of Mountain View (Stone County). The only cave administered by the U.S. Forest Service, it is considered one of the most beautiful in the country. Three guided tours through the caves are open to the public: the Dripstone Trail (open all year), the Discovery Trail (open during the summer), and the Wild Cave (open by special reservation). The limestone rock from which the cave developed was formed by fossilized sediment from sea creatures at the bottom of an ancient inland sea estimated to exist about 350–500 million years ago. When …

Buffalo National River

aka: Buffalo River
The Buffalo National River, which runs through Newton, Searcy, Marion, and Baxter counties, became the first national river in the United States on March 1, 1972. It is one of the few remaining free-flowing rivers in the lower forty-eight states. The Buffalo National River, administered by the National Park Service, encompasses 135 miles of the 150-mile long river. President Richard M. Nixon signed Public Law 92-237 to put the river under the protection of the National Park Service 100 years after the establishment of Yellowstone National Park, the first national park. The law begins, “That for the purposes of conserving and interpreting an area containing unique scenic and scientific features, and preserving as a free-flowing stream an important segment of …

Cache River National Wildlife Refuge

The 62,000-acre Cache River National Wildlife Refuge is the most important wintering area for ducks and the largest remaining tract of contiguous bottomland hardwood forest in North America. It runs along the floodplain of the Cache River and Bayou DeView for seventy air miles from the mouth of the Cache River at Clarendon (Monroe County) to Grubbs (Jackson County), encompassing Jackson, Monroe, Prairie, and Woodruff counties. In February 2004, the ivory-billed woodpecker, once thought extinct, was rediscovered on the refuge. The refuge was established in 1986 as one of 540 national wildlife refuges administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge’s primary objective is to provide habitat for migratory waterfowl and other birds, to protect and restore the …