Entries - 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 …

Climate Change

The spring of 2019 brought record flooding along the Arkansas River from Van Buren (Crawford County) to its confluence with the Mississippi River in the east. Historic crests occurred at Dardanelle (Yell County), Morrilton (Conway County), Toad Suck Lock and Dam near Conway (Faulkner County), and Pendleton (Desha County) between May 30 and June 6. In July 2019, the National Weather Service reported that the remnants of Hurricane Barry dumped 16.17 inches of rain on Dierks (Howard County), the most rain ever measured in a twenty-four-hour period (1:00 p.m. July 15 through 1:00 p.m. July 16) in Arkansas; the three-day total of 16.59 inches was the most rain associated with a tropical system in recorded state history. Murfreesboro (Pike County) …

Compton, Neil Ernest

Neil Ernest Compton of Bentonville (Benton County) was a physician of obstetrics by profession and a conservationist by avocation. He is widely recognized as the founder of the Ozark Society to Save the Buffalo River, which he and his associates initiated on May 24, 1962, at a meeting in Fayetteville (Washington County). Today, it is known as the Ozark Society, Inc. Its original goal was to stop the construction of two proposed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dams on the Buffalo River. Neil Compton was born on August 1, 1912, at Falling Springs Flats in Benton County, the son of David Compton Jr. and Ida Etta Wilmoth Compton. He attended elementary school at Bozarth, a rural school near Gentry (Benton County). …

Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge

aka: White River National Wildlife Refuge
The Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge, located in the floodplain of the White River near its confluence with the Mississippi River, was established in 1935 as the White River National Wildlife Refuge. Its purpose is to provide protection for birds traveling on the Mississippi Flyway during the migration seasons. The refuge also serves to protect the wildlife living there and to preserve the area’s natural beauty. The National Wildlife Refuge program began in 1903 to preserve nesting sites in remote areas such as south Florida and Alaska. In the 1930s, it was expanded to include sites along migratory routes of North America’s waterfowl. The White River National Wildlife Refuge was the second such refuge established in Arkansas. Like others …

Endangered, Threatened, and Rare Species

Arkansas has many plant and animal species, partly because of varied topography and a temperate climate. An abundance of wildlife and rich soils for planting crops drew many of the early European settlers to the state. Many resources have been harvested or depleted. Earlier generations did not take steps to ensure that certain species were protected as their numbers decreased, and today several plants and animals are classified as endangered, threatened, or rare. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 provides a means to conserve the ecosystems upon which endangered and threatened species depend and to provide programs to prevent their extinction. The Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric …

Environment

Arkansas’s physical environment features a mild climate, adequate rainfall, a rural and relatively uncrowded landscape, and diverse geology, which promote a variety of plants, animal life, and water resources. Understanding this environment requires examining the historical changes that have taken place, primarily those changes effected by human occupation. Each new culture and industry moving into the state has brought environmental changes, often dramatically affecting the landscapes of Arkansas’s six distinct geographic regions. An Environmental Snapshot Arkansas contains 53,104 square miles (some thirty-four million acres) composed of six regions: the Arkansas River Valley, Crowley’s Ridge, the Mississippi Alluvial Plain (also called the Delta), the Ouachita Mountains, the Ozark Plateau, and the West Gulf Coastal Plain. More than 14.6 million acres is …

Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge

Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge encompasses approximately 65,000 acres at the confluence of the Ouachita and Saline rivers, spreading across the borders of three counties—Union, Bradley, and Ashley—in southeastern Arkansas near the Louisiana Border. The refuge takes its name from the nearby town of Felsenthal (Union County). The refuge was established in 1975 in order to mitigate the environmental impact of the Ouachita and Black Rivers Navigation Project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which entailed the construction of locks and dams along both rivers in order to facilitate river traffic and prevent flooding. Felsenthal Lock and Dam on the Ouachita River impounds Lake Jack Lee, which the refuge surrounds. Numerous other waterways, such as Caney Bayou and Big Brushy …

Flint Creek Power Plant

The Flint Creek Power Plant, located near Gentry (Benton County) and operated by Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), is one of four coal-fired power plants in Arkansas. On April 9, 1974, SWEPCO and the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC) jointly filed an application with the Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC) to build and operate a single-unit coal-fired power plant and related facilities in western Benton County near Gentry, close to the Arkansas-Oklahoma state line. SWEPCO would build and operate the plant. This application was the second request to build a major coal-fired generating plant in Arkansas filed within the first year after the Arkansas General Assembly adopted a law known as the Utility Facility Environmental Protection Act. The first request, …

Flood of 1927

aka: Great Flood of 1927
aka: Mississippi River Flood of 1927
aka: 1927 Flood
The Flood of 1927 was the most destructive and costly flood in Arkansas history and one of the worst in the history of the nation. It afflicted Arkansas with a greater amount of devastation, both human and monetary, than the other affected states in the Mississippi River Valley. It had social and political ramifications which changed the way Arkansas, as well as the nation, viewed relief from natural disasters and the responsibility of government in aiding the victims, echoing the Hurricane Katrina disaster in the present day. In largely agrarian Arkansas, the Flood of 1927 covered about 6,600 square miles, with thirty-six out of seventy-five Arkansas counties under water up to thirty feet deep in places. In Arkansas, more people …

Flood of 1937

A cold, rainy January in 1937 set the stage for one of the worst floods—if not the worst—in Arkansas. Corrective action undertaken during the preceding ten years kept Mississippi River levees along Arkansas’s border from breaking, however, thereby preventing a repeat of the Flood of 1927. Nevertheless, eleven Arkansas waterways overflowed, inundating or otherwise affecting seventeen adjacent counties. Eleven additional states flooded, from West Virginia to Louisiana, affecting 1.5 million people in 196 counties and submerging 8,141,182 acres (12,721 square miles) along the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys. This natural calamity shattered all previous disaster records, excluding World War I, according to the American Red Cross (ARC). Flood conditions developed over January and February 1937 from abnormal barometric pressure over …

Flood of 1978

On September 13, 1978, a large rainstorm subjected much of central Arkansas to record-setting amounts of rainfall. Due to the resulting flash floods, ten people drowned in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and three more died in Benton (Saline County). In addition to local authorities, Governor David Pryor activated the Benton and Little Rock National Guard units to assist in search and rescue efforts. The flood affected Arkansans in at least fifty-seven counties and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage. The storm began moving from west to east beginning on September 13. The National Weather Service reported that 8.10 inches of rain fell on September 13 alone, a record second only to the 8.81 inches that fell on April …

Flood of 2019

The flood along the Arkansas River that occurred in the spring of 2019 broke a number of high-water records and proved to be one of the costliest natural disasters in the state’s history. In addition, the flood cast light upon the state’s aging levee and transportation infrastructure. Several climatological factors combined to produce the flood. First, a mild winter and warmer than usual spring (likely exacerbated by global warming) led to early snowmelt in the Rocky Mountains, the source of the Arkansas River. During the spring months, especially in May, the Great Plains were hit by repeated storms that brought record numbers of tornadoes and record rainfall; high pressure over the southeastern states stalled this weather in the Midwest. For …

Floods

Floods are one of the most commonly occurring natural hazards in the United States. Their effects can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or can occur in large scale, affecting entire river basins and several states. About 3,800 towns and cities in the United Sates with populations of more than 2,500 lie on floodplains. The National Weather Service has documented some ninety-two flood deaths per year in the United States since 1903. This figure does not include flood-related deaths associated with Hurricane Katrina (2005). Since 1997, more than half (about fifty-seven percent) of all flood deaths have been vehicle-related fatalities. Throughout its history, Arkansas has been drastically affected by floods, with the most notable being in 1927 and 1937. …

Forest Management and Conservation

The Dictionary of Forestry defines “forest management” as the application of biophysical and socioeconomic principles to predominantly tree-covered lands to meet specific objectives while maintaining productivity. To this end, forest management encompasses the art and science of manipulating timberlands for a range of renewable natural resources, including (but not limited to) wood products, wildlife, water, clean air, carbon storage, biodiversity, aesthetics, and recreation. Conservation has always been an integral part of forest management, although its definition has evolved over the decades as the practice of forestry has matured. Today, conservation has more of an emphasis on long-term sustainability, but during the earliest years of professional forestry, any effort related to the non-exploitive treatment of forests was considered conservation. In Arkansas, …

Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center

The Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center in Jonesboro (Craighead County) was built through the efforts of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). It is one of four such nature centers that were built after the 1996 passage of a one-eighth-cent conservation sales tax. Named after Forrest L. Wood, former commissioner and longtime supporter of the AGFC, the center opened on August 25, 2004, after nearly two years of construction. Located on the northern, wider part of the 200-mile-long Crowley’s Ridge, the center provides the public an opportunity to view wildlife in its habitat and learn about the area’s history. The facility maintains several interactive indoor/outdoor exhibits and offers two related films. Educational programs focus on Arkansas’s history …

Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center

aka: Delta Rivers Nature Center
The Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) is Arkansas’s first nature center. Located in Regional Park, it opened on July 28, 2001. It is run by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Education Division. The construction of the center, originally known as the Delta Rivers Nature Center, was funded by a conservation sales tax passed in 1996. The center consists of a 13,000-square-foot main building with exhibits highlighting Delta wildlife and history; it also includes a large meeting facility, a working laboratory, and a nature store. Located outside the main building are two aquariums totaling 22,000 gallons in volume. They display fish and other aquatic species native to the region in a natural setting. …

Hancock, Archibald Rex, Jr.

Archibald Rex Hancock Jr. was a dentist who lived in Stuttgart (Arkansas County) and whose passion for outdoor life and the environment led him to become one of Arkansas’s most ardent supporters of conservation measures. He became known primarily for his fight to preserve the natural character of the wetlands along the Cache River in eastern Arkansas. Rex Hancock was born on July 6, 1923, in Laddonia, Missouri, the youngest of three children of Archibald Rex Hancock Sr., a dentist, and Alma Bothman Klein. He graduated from Laddonia High School in 1941. He interrupted studies at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, to serve as pharmacist’s mate in the U.S. Seventh Fleet Amphibious Division during World War II. After the war, …

Hardison, T. W.

Thomas William Hardison is known as the founder of the Arkansas state park system, though he was also renowned in the disparate areas of medicine, archaeology, resource conservation, community service, natural and cultural history, and literature. T. W. Hardison was born in Richland (Columbia County) on April 2, 1884, to Dr. William Harvey Hardison and Caroline Peavy Hardison. Hardison entered Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) in 1902 but left the next year for Memphis Hospital Medical College. After two years in medical school, he returned to Arkansas in 1905, receiving his medical license through the state medical board. Following a brief practice in Tucker (Jefferson County), Hardison secured a job as a contract physician for the Fort Smith Lumber …

Hill, Julia Lorraine “Butterfly”

Julia Lorraine “Butterfly” Hill is an environmentalist, poet, writer, educator, speaker, and founder of the organization Circle of Life. She earned international fame as an environmental activist by protecting an old-growth forest in northern California from clear-cutting by a logging company. To prevent the logging, she lived in one of the trees—a 1,000-year-old redwood known as “Luna”—for 738 days until an agreement was reached with the Pacific Lumber Company. Julia Butterfly Hill was born on February 18, 1974, in Mount Vernon, Missouri, to Dale Edward Hill, a traveling minister, and Kathleen Anne DelGallo; she has two brothers. Her parents later divorced. Until she was ten, Hill lived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where her parents had started a church called Freedom Chapel. …

Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area

Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area in northwest Arkansas offers outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, boating, and fishing, as well as sites of historical interest. In addition, it is the only Arkansas state park where hunting is allowed. The property was once the home of the first lumber magnate of northwest Arkansas and contained the largest sawmill in the state. The three state agencies that technically manage the property are Arkansas State Parks, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, and Arkansas Game and Fish. The addition of “Conservation Area” to the name of the park was added to represent the work of Arkansas Natural Heritage and Arkansas Game and Fish. Starting in the 1840s and continuing throughout his life, Peter Van Winkle, who …

Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge

Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge (Holla Bend NWR), located six miles south of Dardanelle (Yell County), is a strategic stopover for migratory birds. The 7,000 acres (owned plus managed) offers a place for wintering ducks and geese to rest, and for spring and summer birds to nest while traveling the Central and Mississippi flyways. Extensive wildlife also makes this protected area its year-round home. In 1954, the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ navigation and flood control project along the Arkansas River straightened a section of the river by cutting a channel across Holla Bend Bottoms—on the water route of the Trail of Tears—to improve navigation and prevent flood damage, resulting in an island between the old and new river …

Hurricane Katrina/Rita Evacuees

Following the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005, the evacuated population of New Orleans, Louisiana, was redistributed throughout America to forty-five states and the District of Columbia. As expected, states in the South took in more of the displaced than the rest of the country. An estimated eighty percent of Katrina evacuees temporarily relocated to Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, or Arkansas. Arkansas received approximately 75,000 evacuees, and Texas initially took in more than 250,000 at the Houston Astrodome, the Reliant Complex, the George R. Brown Convention Center, and other sites in southern Texas. However, no state experienced a population increase larger than Arkansas, whose population jumped 2.5 percent after the evacuees arrived. The first evacuees …

Independence Steam Electric Station

The Independence Steam Electric Station (ISES) is a coal-fired electric-energy-generating plant consisting of two units nameplate-rated at 850 megawatts (MW). Located near Newark (Independence County), the units—constructed by Arkansas Power and Light Company (AP&L, now Entergy Arkansas)—were launched into service in 1983 and 1984 following vigorous litigation before the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) in 1978. The ISES plant burns Powder River Basin low-sulfur coal transported to Arkansas from the Antelope Coal Mine in Wyoming by rail in cars owned by Entergy. ISES—originally proposed by AP&L, Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC), and City Water and Light (CWL) of Jonesboro (Craighead County), and now also co-owned or leased by several other Arkansas municipal utilities—operates in coordination with other generating plants within …

Ivory-billed Woodpeckers

aka: Campephilus principalis
Long believed to be extinct, the ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) was rediscovered in the Big Woods of east Arkansas in 2004. More than sixty years after the last confirmed sighting in the United States, a research team announced on April 28, 2005, that at least one male ivory-bill survived in the vast bottomland swamp forest. Published in the journal Science, the findings included multiple sightings of the elusive woodpecker and frame-by-frame analyses of brief video footage. The evidence was gathered during an intensive year-long search in the Cache River and White River National Wildlife Refuges in eastern Arkansas, involving more than fifty experts and field biologists working as part of the Big Woods Conservation Partnership, led by the Cornell Laboratory …

Kudzu

Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is an invasive vine characterized by aggressive growth and clusters of grape-scented purple flowers. It was recognized as a weed in 1972 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). A native plant of Asia, kudzu has been used for over two millennia in Asian cooking and medicine. Kudzu was introduced to the United States at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition (1876) and to southerners at the New Orleans Exposition (1884–1886). Kudzu’s foothold in the American South is largely the result of the efforts of Charles Pleas, Channing Cope, and the Soil Conservation Service (SCS). Pleas owned Glen Arden Nursery in Chipley, Florida, along with his wife, Lillie. After Pleas discovered kudzu’s usefulness for livestock forage and as a …

Lost 40

The Lost 40 is a forty-acre tract of mature forest along Wolf Branch (a tributary of Moro Creek) in southeastern Calhoun County. Owned by PotlatchDeltic Corporation, the tract is known for its large trees, some more than 200 years old, and has variously been described as “primary,” “virgin,” and “old-growth.” It has been the site of several scientific studies conducted by the faculty and students of the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) School of Forestry and Natural Resources, and is protected by a forty-year cooperative management agreement between PotlatchDeltic and the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) signed in 1996. Lost Forty Brewing, a brewery based in Little Rock (Pulaski County), takes its name from the tract. Several natural communities …

Mammoth Spring

Mammoth Spring is the largest spring in the state of Arkansas, the second largest in the Ozark Mountains region, and the seventh largest in the United States. This National Natural Landmark is located within the boundaries of Mammoth Spring State Park. Approximately 497 feet from the Missouri state line in north-central Arkansas, it is within sight of U.S. Highway 63 and the city of Mammoth Spring (Fulton County). Though the spring has always been known as “big” or “mammoth,” the first known settlers in the 1820s created a small village called “Head of the River,” which would later be renamed Mammoth Spring. Water flows from the spring at an average rate of 9.78 million gallons per hour, with a constant …

Mississippi Flyway

The Mississippi Flyway is one of four loosely defined routes used by some species of migratory birds as they travel each autumn from breeding areas in northern North America to wintering sites in the southern United States, Mexico, and Central and South America, and back again in spring. Other North American flyways are the Atlantic, to the east of the Mississippi Flyway; the Central, through the Plains states; and the Pacific, west of the Rocky Mountains. In northern latitudes, summer brings long days and abundant insects and other invertebrates for food, conducive to nesting success for birds. Winter, however, means harsh weather conditions, the disappearance of invertebrates, and frozen lakes and rivers. As a result, most birds nesting in the …

Nature Conservancy of Arkansas

The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas is part of the international Nature Conservancy headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. The Nature Conservancy’s mission is to preserve the plants, animals, and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. The Nature Conservancy was incorporated on October 22, 1951, in Washington DC as a nonprofit organization. The Arkansas field office, established on April 12, 1982, became the organization’s twenty-ninth state program. The Arkansas program, which opened with about 250 members and a staff of three, has grown steadily in capacity and achievement. The conservancy now has about 6,000 members in Arkansas (the worldwide membership is about one million) and a staff of more …

New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812

The New Madrid Earthquakes took place between December 1811 and April 1812 along an active fault line that extends roughly from Marked Tree (Poinsett County) in a northeasterly direction, crossing several states for about 150 miles. The earthquakes and aftershocks caused extensive damage throughout northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri, altering the landscape, affecting settlement of the area, and leaving noticeable reminders that another huge earthquake could happen at any time. The town of New Madrid, Missouri, on the Mississippi River, was founded by Revolutionary War hero George Morgan in 1789. The town was named by Morgan in an attempt to ingratiate himself and receive a land grant from the King of Spain. Its later pronunciation placed the emphasis on the …

Nix, Joe Franklin

Joe Nix is a water chemist, environmentalist, naturalist, and educator considered by many to be the watchdog of Arkansas rivers and lakes with respect to water quality and usage patterns. His mission has been to have society use good scientific data in making decisions about environmental matters. Joe Franklin Nix was born on August 28, 1939, the only child of Frank and Era Nix, in Malvern (Hot Spring County). His father was a mechanic; his mother was a homemaker. He was a sickly child, so the doctor advised that he spend a lot of time outdoors. As a youth, he fell under the personal tutelage of family friend and former state geologist Joe Kimzey of Magnet Cove (Hot Spring County). …

Northern Snakehead

aka: Channa argus
aka: Snakehead
The northern snakehead (Channa argus) is a modern bony fish belonging to the family Channidae. It is native to China, eastern Russia, and parts of the Korean peninsula. The fish was discovered in Arkansas in 2008, leading to attempts to eradicate it. The northern snakehead has an elongate body, with long dorsal and anal fins, and a truncated tail. Coloration is dark tan to brown with darker spots laterally, extending above and below the midline. The jaws have sharp, pointed teeth. The fish can reach a size of one meter and weigh as much as eight kilograms. The northern snakehead breathes with gills but also possesses a suprabranchial organ, which consists of chambers filled with folded tissue that allow atmospheric …

OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology

The OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology of Fayetteville (Washington County) began its work as a traditional peace advocacy organization before moving into local community engagement linked to state, national, and global networks. The organization’s mission is as follows: “OMNI Center educates, empowers and connects, for a world that is nonviolent, sustainable and just.” The OMNI Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The OMNI Center’s founders were James R. (Dick) Bennett and Dana Copp. When Bennett retired from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville in 1998, after a forty-year career as a professor of English, he wanted to start a peace organization and change the world. Copp agreed to help, and in the spring of 2001, they set …