Land Use Issues and Controversies

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Levees and Drainage Districts

Reclaiming the swamp and overflow lands in the Mississippi River Delta required draining those lands and building levees to mitigate the inevitable floods that periodically occurred. Without drainage, the land was useless for farming. Early residents realized that once the land was cleared of the timber and drained, the rich alluvial soil would be productive for a variety of crops, especially cotton. Initially, early settlers had attempted to build makeshift barriers to halt the powerful flood waters, but these attempts were ultimately useless. Although the line of levees along the Mississippi River expanded during the nineteenth century, the water always found a weak spot and inundated the region. In 1879, Congress created the Mississippi River Commission to establish a unified flood …

Levi Wilcoxon Demonstration Forest

The Levi Wilcoxon Demonstration Forest (LWDF) is located about three miles south of Hamburg (Ashley County) along U.S. Highway 425. Currently owned by Plum Creek Timber Company, the LWDF is a remnant of the old-growth pine forest that once covered much of southern Arkansas. The LWDF is notable for the dimensions of the loblolly and shortleaf pines still found within its boundaries—most of the pines in this roughly ninety-acre stand are between 100 and 200 years old and over 100 feet tall. For example, the “Morris Pine” is a loblolly fifty-six inches in diameter, 117 feet tall, and estimated to be at least 300 years old. The national champion shortleaf is also found in the LWDF and measures thirty-six inches …