Entry Category: Land and Resources - Starting with P

Paddlefish

aka: Spoonbill Catfish
Paddlefish belong to the family Polyodontidae and order Acipensiformes. There are six known species—four are extinct (three from western North America, one from China) and known only from fossil remains, while two extant species include the paddlefish (Polyodon spathula), which is native to the Mississippi River basin in the United States, and the gigantic critically endangered Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius) endemic to the Yangtze River Basin in China, where they lived primarily in the broad-surfaced main stem rivers and shoal zones along the East China Sea. Paddlefish are basal Chondrostean ray-finned fish; they are archaic and have been referred to as “primitive fish” because they have evolved with few unique morphological changes since the earliest fossil records of the late …

Parker, Mamie Aselean

Mamie Aselean Parker is a trail-blazing conservationist. The first African American to hold numerous positions in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), she ultimately served as northeastern regional director of the service. Since her retirement from the USFWS, she has been an active consultant and public speaker. Mamie Parker was born on October 14, 1957, in Wilmot (Ashley County). Her mother, Cora Parker, was a single parent who supported her family as a sharecropper and was determined that her eleven children (of whom Mamie was the youngest) would receive an education. Named after President Dwight Eisenhower’s wife, Mamie Eisenhower, Parker shared her mother’s love of fishing, which ended up shaping her eventual career path. Parker grew up in Wilmot …

Passenger Pigeons

aka: Ectopistes migratorius
The passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) was a North American bird species in the order Columbiformes (pigeons and doves) that became extinct in the early twentieth century. The fate of the passenger pigeon serves as a graphic lesson in the misuse of natural resources, as the species went from an almost indescribable abundance to extinction in only a few decades. The decline came primarily as a result of relentless persecution of its breeding colonies by market hunters, largely for meat, with no (or ineffectual) regulation that might have maintained a stable population. The passenger pigeon had the same general body shape as the common and familiar mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) but was larger and somewhat more colorful, with areas of slate-blue …

Peach Industry

Peaches are grown throughout the state of Arkansas with the highest concentrations being in central Arkansas  (Pope and Faulkner counties), western Arkansas (Johnson and Franklin counties), southwest Arkansas (Howard and Clark counties), northern Arkansas (Boone, Benton, and Washington counties), and Crowley’s Ridge in eastern Arkansas (Cross and St. Francis counties). Peaches are most successfully produced on light, sandy soils with at least thirty-six inches of soil depth. Orchards are usually placed on locations with raised elevations to avoid or lessen the impact of incidents of low temperature such as frosts. Peaches were introduced as a crop in Arkansas after the Civil War, as were many other fruits and vegetables, during the New South Diversification movement in agriculture. This movement was …

Petit Jean Mountain

Petit Jean Mountain is the name commonly given to the largest portion of the Petit Jean Mountains, a group of connected landforms south and east of the confluence of the Petit Jean River with the Arkansas River. Although other terrain features along the Petit Jean River are also called Petit Jean Mountain, notably the long ridge that culminates near the common corner of Yell, Logan, and Scott counties, this entry discusses the large mesa on the south bank of the Arkansas River in Conway County. It is part of the Arkansas Valley, one of the six natural divisions of Arkansas, and the home of Petit Jean State Park. A relatively flat top gives Petit Jean elevations that vary from approximately …

Petit Jean River

The Petit Jean River rises from the confluence of several streams in the northern Ouachita Mountains of western Arkansas near Waldron (Scott County). From there, it flows primarily eastward for 113 miles before emptying into the Arkansas River just north of Petit Jean State Park. Many ascribe the name of the river, and of Petit Jean Mountain, to the legend of a young French woman who disguised herself as a man to follow her lover to the New World, though others believe the original French name of the river to have been Petit Jaune, or “little yellow,” possibly in reference to the river’s color. The river is dammed just west of Havana (Yell County), creating Blue Mountain Lake. It is …

Plum Bayou Project

The Plum Bayou Project was part of a New Deal plan designed to help rural residents receive federal relief and assistance during the economic crisis of the 1930s. Located approximately seventeen miles north of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), Plum Bayou was one of several similar communities built in the Arkansas Delta. During the Great Depression, the federal Resettlement Administration—later the Farm Security Administration (FSA)—experimented with programs designed to give assistance to rural farm families. Rexford G. Tugwell, head of the Resettlement Administration, believed that sending farmers into the cities with no job prospects was an untenable situation and certainly no answer to the farmers’ desperate plight. Instead, he focused on developing resettlement projects designed to move farmers barely surviving on …

Plum Point Energy Station

The Plum Point Energy Station (PPES) is a 665-megawatt (MW) energy facility located approximately five miles east of Osceola (Mississippi County). The station began commercial production of electricity on September 1, 2010, serving members of the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission (MJMEUC) in the Arkansas communities of North Little Rock (Pulaski County), Osceola, and Piggott (Clay County), along with the Missouri communities of Carthage, Kennett, Malden, and Poplar Bluff, plus all thirty-five members of the Missouri Public Energy Pool No. 1 (MoPEP). The Empire District Electric Company, East Texas Electric Cooperative, and Municipal Energy Agency of Mississippi own smaller shares of the company. Development and Construction Spurred by recent economic setbacks in the community and surrounding areas, the city …

Pomeroy, Leslie Klett (Les)

Although Sierra Club founder John Muir championed forest conservation by setting aside large acreages, it was Leslie Klett Pomeroy who devised a conservation plan for growing and harvesting timber that both conserved it and turned it into a renewable resource. His science-based management plans regenerated timberlands across the South after cut-out-and-get-out practices had decimated its forests. Pomeroy’s groundbreaking work carried out in Arkansas ultimately affected forestry in the South and across America. Leslie Pomeroy was born on December 12, 1896, in Hub City, Wisconsin. He was the only child of William Justis Pomeroy and Anna Barbara Klett Pomeroy. His mother was a housewife, and his father began his employment with Madison Bus Company in 1922 as a motorman on streetcars, …

Ponca Elk Education Center

The Ponca Elk Education Center was established in 2002 to serve wildlife enthusiasts coming to Newton County to view elk, which were introduced to the state in 1981. The center is in a handsome log building on Arkansas Highway 43 in the village of Ponca in western Newton County. The building was for a short time used as a charter school by a religious organization and was later leased by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). The Ponca facility has displays of elk and many other Arkansas wildlife. It features eye-catching photographs and a gift shop selling nature-related items, as well as hunting and fishing licenses. There is also a small meeting room. Porches offer visitors a chance to …

Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge

Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge, the 501st refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System, protects and preserves one of the last remaining bottomland hardwood tracts in the Red River Basin. Established in 1994 under the Emergency Wetlands Resources Act, the refuge encompasses approximately 28,000 acres and is located in southwest Arkansas along the Texas/Oklahoma border. Originally established as Cossatot National Wildlife Refuge, the name was changed in 1997 at the request of citizens to retain the local name, Pond Creek Bottoms. Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge is one of four refuges managed as part of the South Arkansas National Wildlife Refuge Complex with headquarters at Crossett (Ashley County). Geographically positioned in an area where the Central and Mississippi flyways overlap, …

Poteau River

The Poteau River rises in Arkansas from springs east of Waldron (Scott County) and flows westward for approximately thirty-nine miles before entering Le Flore County, Oklahoma. From there, the river continues to flow west until entering Wister Lake. Exiting the north side of the lake, the river flows northeast until finally emptying into the Arkansas River in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). The river flows for a total length of 141 miles. Early inhabitants were located along the Poteau River during the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian eras. There are numerous archaeological sites located along the river, giving evidence indicating that the Caddo Indians once inhabited the area. The Poteau River and its banks served as hunting and fishing grounds for early …

Potlatch Cook’s Lake Nature Center

Potlatch Cook’s Lake Nature Center (originally the Potlatch Conservation Education Center at Cook’s Lake) is located near the small community of Casscoe (Arkansas County) approximately twenty miles southeast of Stuttgart (Arkansas County). The general purpose of the facility is conservation education, focusing on the bottomland hardwood forests and upland community of forests that surround the center. This is accomplished by introducing various audiences to hands-on outdoor learning activities. The property is recognized as an important wildlife sanctuary, especially for migrating waterfowl. In 1990, the forty-nine nations of the Ramsar Convention (an international treaty for conserving and sustainably utilizing wetlands) recognized the 200-acre Cook’s Lake and its surrounding property as a “wetland of international importance,” representing the diverse natural features of …

Poultry Industry

A staple of the state’s economy, the Arkansas poultry industry first emerged in the 1890s. A century later, Tyson Foods, based in Springdale (Washington County), had become one of the largest agribusiness firms in the United States. Northwest Arkansas, particularly Washington and Benton counties, produces the majority of poultry in Arkansas. The topography of the Ozark highlands—in contrast to the relatively flat eastern half of the state—is well suited to raising chickens. The hilly terrain has historically prevented the widespread cultivation of rice and cotton, which led northwest Arkansas farmers to pursue interests in timber, fruit orchards, and especially poultry. In 1893, Millard Berry of Springdale acquired an incubator with the intent of raising chickens on a large scale. By …

Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary

Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary began with just one horse on five acres of rural land outside Sarasota, Florida, and eventually evolved into an award-winning, 320-acre facility located in Mena (Polk County). Melanie and Jim Bowles, the founders of Proud Spirit, originally earned their livings as professional firefighters for Sarasota County, Florida. In 1990, they purchased a small home on five acres out in the country. A few months later, they decided they had room for a horse and began looking for one to purchase. In their search, they discovered a thoroughbred mare that was being neglected and purchased the horse to get her out of the abusive situation. In 1992, they opened their five acres to more horses in need, …

Public Land Surveys

The survey and division of the public lands that would make up the state of Arkansas was vitally important to the orderly settlement and development of the future territory and state. The modern survey system devised by the United States in the late 1700s provided the basis for subdividing the vast new lands acquired by the expanding nation into more identifiable, transferable tracts. Soon after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the U.S. government began the process of dividing the vast addition into smaller tracts, including the eventual survey and charting of nearly all of the newly acquired public land in the territory that would become Arkansas. That process in Arkansas would last nearly half a century. Prior to 1815, the …