Entries - Entry Category: Land and Resources - Starting with O

Official State Grape

aka: Cynthiana Grape
Approximately 150 commercial vineyards and wineries have operated in Arkansas since 1870. In 2009, the Arkansas General Assembly took note of this agricultural mainstay when it designated the Cynthiana, a native grape, as Arkansas’s official state grape. Act 547 was introduced as House Bill 2193 by Representatives Beverly Pyle of Cedarville (Crawford County) and Kathy Webb of Little Rock (Pulaski County). The measure was introduced at the suggestion of Audrey House, proprietor of the Chateau Aux Arc vineyards in Franklin County, to draw attention to the survival and rising reputation of Arkansas vintages. Arkansas’s grape-growing industry is small, however, in comparison to that of such viticultural powerhouses as California. Between 2007 and 2009, acres of cultivated grapes ranged between 750 …

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 …

Ouachita Mountains

The Ouachita Mountains, one of the six natural divisions of Arkansas, are generally characterized as folded ridges and valleys composed of Paleozoic rocks. They are unusual in North America in that the ridges are generally aligned east to west, unlike the Rocky Mountains or Appalachian Mountains, where the ridges usually run north to south. The most striking result of this orientation is that there is an extensive south-facing slope on each ridge that is exposed to the heat and light of the sun, as well as a north-facing slope that is protected from direct solar radiation and is consequently cooler and moister. The dry south-facing slopes are often covered with pine forests or woodlands, or even drier oak woodlands, while …

Ouachita National Forest

The Ouachita National Forest, originally called the Arkansas National Forest, was created through an executive order issued by President Theodore Roosevelt on December 18, 1907. Forest Service Chief Gifford Pinchot remarked at the time that this national forest was the only major shortleaf pine forest under the federal government’s protection. In January 1908, the Arkansas Sentinel newspaper reprinted an article from Forestry and Irrigation Magazine that praised the hearty spirit of cooperation manifested by Arkansas’s people and spoke of benefits to be gained by the conservation of timber supplies. At first, the Arkansas National Forest consisted solely of reserved public domain lands (part of the Louisiana Purchase) south of the Arkansas River. The 1911 Weeks Law, which authorized federal purchase …

Ouachita River

The Ouachita River originates in the Ouachita Mountains of west-central Arkansas near the Arkansas and Oklahoma border and flows 600 river miles before joining the Black and Red rivers in north-central Louisiana. The Ouachita flows through eleven different counties in Arkansas and five parishes in Louisiana. The Ouachita is a river of diverse beauty. It begins as a small mountain stream at Eagleton (Polk County) and flows eastward approximately 120 miles. It winds through lush mountain valleys, steadily building as it flows between huge boulders beneath mountain bluffs. It flows onward on its 600-mile course amid banks of moss-covered oaks and cypress trees in the swampy bottoms of Louisiana. The Ouachita is noted for its great fishing, especially bass, bream, …

Overflow National Wildlife Refuge

Overflow National Wildlife Refuge was established on November 6, 1980, to protect one of the remaining bottomland hardwood forest tracts in the Lower Mississippi River Valley (LMRV). Located in Ashley County, it is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service under the Department of the Interior. These bottomland forests are used by a huge contingent of migratory birds including waterfowl, wading birds, raptors, and songbirds. Original refuge land acquisitions were limited to forested bottomlands only, as they were in eminent danger of being drained and cleared for agriculture. The refuge has been officially designated a globally Important Bird Area (IBA) by the American Bird Conservancy. Most of the land within the …

Ozan Lumber Company

The Ozan Lumber Company operated a number of mills across southwestern Arkansas from the late nineteenth century to its sale to the Potlatch Corporation in 1964. Two distinct companies owned by members of the Bemis family operated under the Ozan name. James H. Bemis and Benjamin Whitaker opened a sawmill in Prescott (Nevada County) in April 1891. In July, the owners incorporated the business as the Ozan Lumber Company. The name was apparently taken from the nearby town of Ozan (Hempstead County). Whitaker remained a part of the business for only a short period before selling out and embarking on other ventures. The lumber business proved to be successful, shipping timber on the company-owned Prescott and Northwestern Railroad. The company …

Ozark Institute [Organization]

From 1976 until its end in 1983, the Ozark Institute (OI) created job programs, provided advocacy for a dwindling population of small farmers, and worked to create community organizations and institutions to help alleviate some of the hardships of rural life. Toward these aims, the OI partnered with the Office of Human Concern in Benton County, led by Bill Brown, a longtime resident of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). The OI created a host of entities and programs to aid the Ozarks region in its short life, including community canneries, the publication Uncertain Harvest, seed banks, job training programs, and the Eureka Springs radio station KESP. The roots of the OI can be traced to the Conference on Ozark In-Migration in …

Ozark Mountains

The Ozark Mountains (a.k.a. the Ozark Plateau or Plateaus), representing one of the six natural divisions of Arkansas, are generally characterized as uplifted level plateaus composed of Paleozoic rocks. Streams have cut valleys into these plateaus, and, in some cases, the plateau surface is only visible as the flat tops of the mountains at similar elevations. The three distinct plateaus differ in topography, geology, vegetation, as well as inhabitants’ land use, history, and culture. Boston Plateau At up to 2,600 feet, the Boston Plateau, usually referred to as the Boston Mountains because of its ruggedness, is the highest of the Ozark Mountains. It extends as a belt across the southernmost Ozarks, generally parallel to and to the north of Interstate …

Ozark Natural Science Center

The Ozark Natural Science Center (ONSC) is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) environmental educational organization facility in the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission’s Bear Hollow Natural Area, located adjacent to the McIlroy Madison County Wildlife Management Area in northwest Arkansas. ONSC offers summer camps, adult and family programming, and conference facilities but is best known as the site of school excursions for more than 4,000 public and private school students from Arkansas and beyond each year. The mission of ONSC is to “enhance the understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Ozark natural environment.” This mission is achieved by providing educational programs that immerse participants in the Ozark ecosystems and celebrate ecological and cultural diversity, foster conservation and stewardship, and nurture appreciation of …

Ozark Society

The Ozark Society is an Arkansas-based environmental organization initially founded to give organized resistance to the construction of dams on the Buffalo River in northern Arkansas. Adopting the motto “Conservation, Education, Recreation,” it soon broadened its goals to larger environmental conservation and sponsors a variety of floating and hiking opportunities for members and the general public. The Ozark Society was formed during a time of heightened interest in state conservation efforts. Individuals in northwest Arkansas and Pulaski County had contacted and investigated alliances with national groups about preventing the Buffalo River from being dammed and creating a national park to protect it; however, local activists opted to form a separate organization. On May 24, 1962, the Ozark Society held an …

Ozark-St. Francis National Forests

The Ozark-St. Francis National Forests are replete with distinct topographical, geological, and biological features. The forests are overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, which employs a multiple-use management concept to serve the best interests of the landowners and visitors. The forests serve as a source of renewable hardwood for industry and as prime recreation areas in the state. On December 18, 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt signed a proclamation creating the Arkansas National Forest (now the Ouachita National Forest) from the land south of the Arkansas River. On March 6, 1908, he signed the proclamation creating the Ozark National Forest from the land north of the river. The Ozark National Forest was the only major hardwood timberland …