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ARKANSAS WILD EXPLORING OUTDOOR LIFE IN THE NATURAL STATE

build your

own boat

if you teach a kid to fish... get your grill on

SUMMER 2018 a r K A N S A S w i l d.c o m ARKANSASWILD.COM | 1


discover the finest fishing spot in america.

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SUMMER 2018 ARKANSASWILD.COM

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OFF THE BEATEN PATH Where the Wild Things Are

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IF YOU TEACH A KID TO FISH Arkansas Game and Fish Programs

36 PHOTOGRAPHY BY NOVO STUDIO

THAT MOST BEAUTIFUL OF RIVERS Swim, Camp, Float and Hike

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DOWN TO THE RIVER

27th Annual Mulberry River Cleanup

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HOT FISH

How the Temperature Affects Fish and Their Environment

DEPARTMENTS

10 OUTDOOR ESSENTIALS 12 ARKANSAS ORIGINAL 14 KEEPING IT NATURAL 18 ARKANSAS MADE 22 EXPLORE ARKANSAS 46 EXPERIENCE ARKANSAS 4 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SUMMER 2018

ON THE Cover: Jason Hayes paddles a sit-on-top kayak rented from Little Red River Outfitters. See story page ON 22. photo by novo studio.


r u o y e b s u t Le e plan! p a c es AWARD WINNING SERVICE, WILDERNESS LAKE OUACHITA, ARKANSAS’S PREMIER RESORT!

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THE REVOLUTION IS HERE!

ARKANSAS WILD ARKANSASWILD.COM FOLLOW US FOR MORE WILD

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We are excited to announce that Trader Bill’s Outdoors is now the New Vexus Boat Dealer!

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KATHERINE DANIELS Publisher katherine@arktimes.com LACEY THACKER Editor lacey@arktimes.com MANDY KEENER Creative Director mandy@arktimes.com LESA THOMAS Senior Account Executive lesa@arktimes.com KIMBERLY BENNETT Account Executive kimberly@arktimes.com WELDON WILSON Production Manager/Controller

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Quality Buildings Since 1950

Arkansas Times Limited Partnership 201 E. MARKHAM ST., SUITE 200 LITTLE ROCK, AR 72201 501-375-2985 All Contents © 2018 Arkansas Wild


CONTRIBUTORS

Little Rock’s Largest Live Bait Dealer 5223 S. University · 501.568.6002 · OPEN 24 HOURS

Little Rock’s Largest Live Bait Dealer

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PHILIP THOMAS is the owner and

operator of Novo Studio, a photography, video and graphic design company located in northwest Arkansas.

5223 S. University

OPEN 24 HOURS

501.568.6002

IGNITE SOMETHING

AUSTIN ORR got his first fly rod from his

grandfather 20 years ago. Now a certified casting instructor, Austin enjoys passing on the love of fly fishing to others. Salt396.com/

O N LY T H E P E R F E c T c U T c A N U N L E A S H A DIAmOND’S BRILLIANcE.

IGNITE IGNITE SOMETHING SOMETHING

DWAIN HEBDA ,president of Ya!Mule

Wordsmiths, is a veteran writer, editor and journalist. Nebraskan by birth, Southern by the grace of God, he lives in Little Rock with his wife, Darlene, and their three pampered dogs, Hootie, Oakley and Cash.

O N L Y TO HN E LP Y ETRHF E E CPTE RCFUETC C T ACNU TU N C LAENA SUH NLEASH A D I A MAO D N IDA’ M S O BN R IDL’LSI ABN RC I LEL. I A N C E .

H E A R T S O N F I R E S T O R E S , A U T H O R I Z E D R E TA I L E R S , H E A R T S O N F I R E . c O m

HEARTS ON FIRE STOR H EE SA,R A TU S TOHNO R FI Z R E DS TR O E TRAE ISL, EA RU S ,T H HO EA RR I ZTESD ON RE FT I RAEI L. CE O R SM, H E A R T S O N F I R E . C O M

BOB ROBINSON enjoys all things

10720 N. Rodney 10720 Parham N.Little Rodney Rock, Parham AR Little Rock, AR 501.225.5068 | 800.453.9579 501.225.5068 | CecilsFineJewelry.com | 800.453.9579 | CecilsFineJewelry.com

outdoors and is the author of three bicycle guidebooks, all of which can all be purchased at spiritscreek.com. 8023-Cecils_Twoofus.indd8023-Cecils_Twoofus.indd 1

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IT’S GETTING HOT OUT HERE When temperatures rise, about my favorite thing to do is hit the water. Paddling and boating top my list for outdoor activities this time of year, though I can be coerced into camping if there’s a cool body of water to jump in nearby. Perhaps because of that, my mind inevitably turns to the conservation of our waterways and all that entails. It’s not as simple as preventing pollutants from entering them; instead, we must also think about every bit of trash we dispose of. Floating means bringing along mesh bags and picking up after previous visitors; walks around town mean picking up litter in order that it not wind up down a storm drain. Outside of litter, even the soaps we use can impact the health of our water systems. Whether you’re excited about camping and floating or frustrated by fishing in this heat, we’ve got something to interest you. We’ll hear from a bug biologist who emphasizes, “It’s okay to like bugs,” learn about a swamp in south Arkansas and explore the Clinton area. As always, we love to hear from our readers. Got a favorite spot or activity you’d like to share? Is there a person who deserves recognition for their contributions to Arkansas outdoors? Drop me a line at Lacey@arktimes.com. Grab a glass of iced tea, get comfortable on the porch swing and enjoy this summer’s Arkansas Wild.

See you outside,

Lacey Thacker Editor, Arkansas Wild

8 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SUMMER 2018

PHOTOGRAPHY: LAURA HANLON

FROM THE EDITOR


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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 9


OUTDOOR ESSENTIALS

GRILL IN STYLE

Portable Kitchen Charcoal Grills and Smokers are well-known across the country for their quality and durability, so it was a sad day when they stopped production in the mid-70s. For years, owners guarded their beloved PK Grills, often passing them from parent to child, resulting in decades of use. In the late 90s, a resident of Little Rock fired up the grill once more, purchasing the name and again manufacturing the beloved grill.

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USE IN THE GRILL, OVEN OR EVEN MICROWAVE!

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PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY OF VENDORS

SUPER PORTABLE!


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1. THE GRILL

The PK Grill is cast aluminum, making it rustproof, lightweight and an efficient conductor of heat. And the PK Grill isn’t just a grill—it’s a smoker, too. $369.00-$899.00

2. THE GRILL BRUSH

90 LOCAL ARTISTS

When it’s all said and done, home chefs need a tool that will keep their grill clean as new. This brush’s bristles are made of hemp, so when a bristle is lost it simply burns up and fades away—instead of possibly contaminating food. $24.99

3. THE PIZZA STONE

This stone distributes heat and absorbs moisture, making for a gorgeous crust on homemade pizza. $39.99

4. THE THERMOMETER

This Tel-tru thermometer is accurate to +/- 1%, guaranteeing your meat stays at exactly the desired temperature. $39.99

5. THE TONGS

Made with stainless-steel construction and durable hinging, a good set of tongs can grip the most delicate of vegetables or the thickest slabs of meat. $39.99

AVAILABLE FROM PKGRILLS.COM AND LOCAL RETAILERS.

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 11


ARKANSAS ORIGINAL

WARREN SCONIERS, PHD

DR. WARREN SCONIERS MAY NOT HAVE GROWN UP IN ARKANSAS, BUT HE EMBODIES THE ARKANSAS ORIGINAL SPIRIT. A PASSIONATE BIOLOGIST, DR. SCONIERS SPENDS HIS TIME EDUCATING STUDENTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF THE OZARKS ABOUT THE FASCINATING WORLD OF INSECTS, PLANTS AND ECOLOGY. EVER-CURIOUS ABOUT THE WORLD AROUND HIM, HE CAN OFTEN BE FOUND HIKING THROUGH THE WOODS OR SIMPLY WANDERING AROUND HIS NEIGHBORHOOD LOOKING FOR UNUSUAL CREATURES.

What were you like as a kid? I was that kid playing with insects and plants growing up. Sometimes I would get distracted while playing sports because a dragonfly flew by.

If you could convey only one idea to your students regarding the outdoors, what would it be? When it comes to the outdoors I would tell students to get out there and try to find the bugs. As you learn more about them, you can learn the good and the bad and to be less afraid. Students have told me after my course that they have changed their major to entomology or found a new passion for insects! That makes me very happy.

What do you do for a living? I am starting my third year as an Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of the Ozarks. I teach many subjects such as entomology (study of insects), plant physiology, beekeeping, disease ecology and lower and upper level evolution and ecology. How did you become interested in bugs? I took a course during my undergrad at the University of California at Irvine that introduced me to the world of insects. There I learned about careers in entomology and my interests began to fly from there. What is your favorite outdoor activity? Hiking and looking for insects is one of my favorites, just being outside and exploring is something I enjoy.

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What is your favorite thing about Arkansas outdoors? How diverse and large the insects are!

ON A PIT STOP AT ARCHES NATIONAL PARK, DR. SCONIERS TAKES A MOMENT TO SAY, “CHEESE!”

PHOTOGRAPHY: WARREN SCONIERS

Where are you from originally and how did you get to Arkansas? I am originally from southern California. I grew up in the Palmdale/ Lancaster area of the Antelope Valley, about one and a half hours northeast of Los Angeles. The University of the Ozarks brought me to Arkansas. There I teach about insects and other areas in biology with great, enthusiastic students.


EXPANDING OUR HORIZONS Book today to see our beautiful expanded property, where new adventures await. The greatest outdoor destination is getting even better. Catherine’s Landing, an RVC Outdoor Destination, is expanding to include an array of wonderful amenities and additional lodging spaces: Recreation Rentals • Pontoon boats • Canoe • Kayak • Kids splash pad • Saline pool

Lodging • RV sites • Cottages • Yurts • Tent site

Adventureworks • High ropes obstacle course • Zip line tours

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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 13 *Disclosure: For online booking, please add note “Phase II,” and the free night will be refunded upon check-in.


PHOTOGRAPHY: ARKANSAS CANOE CLUB

KEEPING IT NATURAL

Chris Elkins and Cowper Chadbourn pose beside their haul of trash collected in a single day from Ponca.

TIRES IN THE STREAM

NEW LAW AIMS TO COMBAT TIRE DEBRIS BY LACEY THACKER

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or those of us who love to float, there’s nothing quite as disheartening as paddling along and finding abandoned trash. It’s an even worse experience to find a number of dumped tires, which might even cause a build-up of other trash that’s made its way into the waterway. When tires are dumped, they don’t disappear. Instead, they stay indefinitely in the waterway, potentially polluting and contaminating otherwise pristine rivers and streams. One member of the Arkansas Canoe Club spends the bulk of his days canoeing local streams and rivers and collecting trash—tires included.

WHERE ARE TIRES COMING FROM?

According to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, historically citizens have struggled to dispose of tires properly, either due to lack of proximity to a tire disposal center or the cost required to do so. Thanks to the Tire Accountability Program launched in 2017 and the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Regulation 36, Arkansas residents can now dispose of up to four tires a month at no charge. Under the new regulations, each waste tire district is now required to set up a permanent tire collection center in each county of their district coverage area. To date, ADEQ has been notified of the intent for 99 permitted tire collection centers. The new law doesn’t only cover disposal of tires from individual residents; instead, each waste tire district must also submit a tire management plan to ADEQ listing all known tire dump sites and a plan for completing a cleanup of those dump sites.

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Van Buren County, AR

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The Great American Hwy 65 Road Trip

Hwy 65 Bucket List Get Yours at VisitVBC.com

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Hwy 65 Bucket List Go back in time to “Pickin’ on the Square” and antique finds along Hwy 65 . Kiss my honey while riding the Ferris Wheel at Archey Fest. (Clinton) Eat Cotton Candy while watching a movie in the park or Rockin’ on the River. (Clinton) Dip my toes in the water while watching the Fireworks over Fairfield Bay. (Fairfield Bay Marina)

Float the Little Red or drop a line. (Shirley) Camp under the stars in Fairfield Bay & Hike Sugar Loaf Mountain Island the next day. Bea-uuuu-ti-ful! Play Disc Golf then sit in the Big Blue Chair for a photo to remember. (Fairfield Bay) Follow a trail to Waterfalls, Indian Thong Trees, Indian Rock Cave, or just because. (Fairfield Bay, Clinton, & Shirley.)

Paid for with a combination of state & regional funds. Go to visitgreersferrylake.org for our free area guide.


This crew spent Black Friday of 2017 on the Fourche gathering discarded trash.

COLLECTING TIRES

While the number of tires dumped to date is unknown, there have been over 6,000 tires collected from dump sites and disposed of appropriately, yet they continue to be found. Dumped tires do not decompose. Instead, they gather, impacting the scenic beauty of our state. Appropriately disposing of tires creates an economic benefit for the state and mitigates public health risks caused by pollutants leaching out of the tires and disease vectors stagnating inside the rim of the tire, where water can collect. Collecting tires allows them to be “recycled” into bumpers on docks, preventing damage to docks and scarring to boats. Used tires may also be used to prevent soil erosion, to secure covers over agricultural products or in road and highway construction.

THE ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY

The ADEQ “protects, enhances and restores the natural environment for the well-being of all Arkansans.” They can be reached at 501-682-0744.

KEEP TRASH OUT OF OUR WATERWAYS

To keep trash where it belongs—in the trash can—requires just a little effort on the part of every Arkansas resident. • Follow the rules when floating: every boat should have its own mesh trash bag. • Collect any trash you come across while out on the water. • Keep a grocery bag or reusable bag in your vehicle, and collect bits of trash you find along the sidewalk or in parking lots. • Be aware of the use of storm drains. They do not lead to waste treatment facilities; instead, they drain directly to local waterways, and therefore should not be used to dispose of trash or other pollutants. The small effort of picking up trash will go a long way toward keeping Arkansas’s wild places free of debris. 16 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SUMMER 2018

DISPOSING OF WASTE TIRES

According to members of the Arkansas Canoe Club, ACC and Keep Arkansas Beautiful volunteers collected over 13000 dumped tires last year. If action isn’t taken, the problem will only continue. Residents can most quickly help by properly disposing of their own waste tires at a tire disposal center. The easiest way to find a tire disposal center near you is to download the ADEQ app to your phone, open it and hit the “Tire Recycling and Disposal” button, followed by the “Tire Collection Centers” button. A pop-up map showing the centers closest to you will appear.


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EVERY JOURNEY BEGINS HERE!

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ARKANSAS MADE

Greg Johnson of Little Rock Boat Builder Supply hopes his plywood designs will make a splash in the boat-kit manufacturing world.

FLOAT YOUR OWN BOAT GREG JOHNSON’S LITTLE ROCK BOAT BUILDER SUPPLY CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN, NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED BY LINDSEY MILLAR

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PHOTOGRAPHY: BRIAN CHILSON

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reg Johnson recently found a photo of himself, age 3, painting a picture of a boat. When he was growing up, his family always had boats. As he got older, he began building watercraft, including an 18-foot racing sailboat when he could find the time between working as a professional carpenter, building houses, commercial properties and cabinets. After a brief stint working in the cabinet shop at Dassault Falcon Jet, Johnson, 61, decided to turn that lifelong passion into a business: Last November, he opened Little Rock Boat Builder Supply, a business that’s likely unique in Arkansas. This a visitor to his large woodshop on Victory Street, just north of the state Capitol, would probably find Johnson and his crew putting the finishing touches on a 20-foot canoe called Miss Behavin’, but Johnson isn’t in the boat building business. Instead, he’s creating boat kits for customers who want to assemble their own watercrafts. Miss Behavin’ is made from what’s known in the industry as a stitch-and-glue boat kit. Its parts are mostly marine-grade plywood made from Okoume (a tree from West-Central Africa) and Meranti (a tree that grows in the Philippines) wood, which is engineered to resist fungal decay when wet. Johnson cuts the plywood pieces for the canoe kit on a 5-foot-by-10-foot CNC (computer numerical control) machine he constructed himself. The CNC machine allows him to automate precise and repeatable cuts with a router. The plywood pieces that make up the hull come together with puzzle joints, which look like large


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puzzle pieces and fit together in only one way. Copper wire “stitches” that pass through predrilled holes connect the side and bottom pieces of the hull. Once the boat is assembled, each seam gets glued with an epoxy fillet (a raised bead) and fiberglass tape. Once that dries, the copper wires are snipped and the seams get sanded smooth. fiberglass cloth covers the exterior of the hull. You don’t know the fiberglass is there after epoxy is applied to it; the epoxy-covered fiberglass cloth dries clear. Because it’s made of plywood, the whole thing gets a coat of paint, too. Johnson estimates that it takes about 80 hours to assemble the Miss Behavin’ model and says no woodworking experience is required. He was assembling for the The WoodenBoat Show in Mystic, Conn. It’s one of the biggest in the country, and Johnson is hoping it will help LRBBS make a splash in the boat-kit manufacturing world. One aspect that sets Miss Behavin’ apart from typical canoes is its dual-pedal drive system; passengers can power propellers attached to the back of the canoe by pedaling, similar to pedaling a recumbent bicycle. The idea for the boat came out of Laurie McGowan’s “Design Sketchbook” column for WoodenBoat magazine, the

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Clockwise from above: Designs for the Laurentia, a 13-foot micro-cruiser sailboat still in the planning phase. Johnson demonstrates how the wood of a boat fits together. Two of Johnson’s employees work in the office.

JOHNSON CUTS THE PLYWOOD PIECES FOR THE CANOE KIT ON A 5-FOOT-BY-10-FOOT CNC MACHINE HE CONSTRUCTED HIMSELF.

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Serving Central Arkansas Since 1970!

11608 Maumelle Blvd. | North Little Rock | 501 904-5355

sponsor of the upcoming boat show. For each issue, McGowan, a Nova Scotia-based boat designer, takes a reader’s idea for a “dream boat,” makes conceptual drawings and writes about it. The design for Miss Behavin’ grew out of one of those columns. McGowan, whom Johnson met years back at an international boat builders’ conference, is providing the plans for most of the boats Johnson will soon have for sale on his website, littlerockboatbuildersupply.com. Soon, Johnson plans to begin selling kits for the Laurentia, a 13-foot micro-cruiser sailboat and, in the not-too-distant future, a 10foot canoe made with thin strips of hardwood glued together around forms. He also wants to sell a siton-top kayak that he designed in hopes of taking it to the Everglades Challenge, an annual 300-mile small boat race from Tampa to Key Largo in Florida along the Gulf Coast. The boat will have a pedal drive and a kite sail option. By the end of the year, Johnson hopes to have five models for sale. After two years, he hopes for 10 models, which might be the max, he said. For now, Johnson and his employees are still spending a lot of their time doing custom cabinetry jobs to keep LRBBS afloat, but Johnson said he’s been surprised at how many walk-in customers have come in to buy sheets of plywood, epoxy or other boat building supplies that aren’t easy to get in Central Arkansas. “There are a lot of boat builders out there,” he said.

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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 21


EXPLORE ARKANSAS

A HIDDEN HOT SPOT OF OUTDOOR FUN

FLOAT VBC INITIATIVE WORKS TO BRING MORE OUTDOOR TOURISM TO VAN BUREN COUNTY BY LACEY THACKER

Two paddlers take in the serene beauty of the Little Red River.

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T

he Buffalo River is arguably the most frequented river for float trips in Arkansas. But due to its popularity, it’s often crowded, and for those in Central or South Arkansas, it’s quite a drive. Enter the Little Red River. The Little Red, already well-known as a trout fishing destination, is a pristine, cold, dam-fed river flanked on either side by hardwoods populated by birds, deer and other wildlife. It is, as it turns out, a stunning float suitable for day trips or a short overnight trip.

FLOAT VBC

Float VBC—Float Van Buren County—is a project developed in collaboration with the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce, the City of Clinton, Van Buren County and We Love VBC. The primary goal of the project is to educate the public on the availability of and access to floating in Van Buren County. According to Jason Hayes of the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce, “We have found that there is more usage of the rivers for floating than was commonly known about,” and that this floating is being done with limited access to launch sites. Proponents of the Float VBC project and other projects designed to enhance tourism in the area suggest that increasing tourism to the Little Red River area will offer a more convenient floating option for those in more southerly portions of the state, and it will also offer a stunning trip on the water. Excitingly, says Gale McRae, executive director of Greers Ferry Lake and the Little Red River, the initiative will also result in increased job opportunities in the area. To create better access, the initiative, in working with other organizations, has identified two locations for initial launch sites, both on the middle fork of the Little Red River.

LOCATION: About an hour north of Conway. GPS: 35.5915° N, 92.4604° W PHOTOGRAPHY BY NOVO STUDIO ARKANSASWILD.COM | 23


The Little Red River is a shady river that makes for a pleasant all-day float.

SHIRLEY CITY PARK

According to Float VBC, this launch is perceived as the epicenter of floating on the middle section of the Little Red River. Launching from this site offers an easy float that takes around three hours of paddle time and four or more hours spent on the water. It is the last float before the river dumps into Greers Ferry Lake. The float ends at the Corps of Engineers parking lot at Sandiff.

BLUFTON PRESERVE

VAN BUREN COUNTY

Van Buren County is making its mark as a worthwhile destination. Visitors from across the state will appreciate the scenic beauty of the Little Red River, but they will also enjoy grabbing a bite to eat in Clinton and pit stopping at the Natural Bridge, among other outdoor activities.

VISIT THE NATURAL BRIDGE

Have you ever been driving along Highway 65 and seen the signs for the Natural Bridge? If you’re like me, you wondered whether this pit stop could possibly be worth the few extra miles. My answer? A resounding yes. This gorgeous sandstone formation over Little Johnny Creek was long ago actually used as a bridge. Today, it’s just one of the many natural attractions in Van Buren County.

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This 9-mile float begins at The Nature Conservancy in Blufton and ends at Archey Fork Park in Clinton. This section’s ideal floating level is between 5 and 6.5 feet, with levels between 6.5 and 9 feet only suitable for experienced white water paddlers. River levels over 9 feet are not recommended for floating. This nearly 100-acre tract offers access to the Little Red River, but it also offers a great opportunity to explore a pristine wildlife area. Hiking, camping, and fishing are all allowed activities. Visitors will be greeted with a gate, but it is unlocked—just shut it behind your vehicle after entering.

ADDITIONAL FLOATS ACCESSIBLE BY SHUTTLE

Alberg to Shirley: This nine-hour float offers an abundance of rapids, scenic beauty, swimming, fishing and a number of photo opportunities. This floats launch is also the western entry to Meadow Creek, an old architectural college from the 70s found in the backwoods of Stone County. Lydalisk to Shirley: This float has a paddle time of 4.5 hours, but groups can expect to spend closer to six hours on this float.  This float offers exciting rapids, scenic beauty, fishing and swimming.   River Road to Shirley:  This float has a paddle time of 2.5 hours but floaters can expect to spend 4 hours on this float.  This float offers a number of exciting rapids, scenic beauty, fishing and swimming.


The Natural Bridge is a fun pit-stop when traveling through Van Buren County on Highway 65.

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 25


JB Trading Co basecamp for Adventure

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ARkansas NATIONAL GUARD MUSEUM

The museum tells the story of the Arkansas National Guard from its militia roots to its participation in the current global war on terror. The museum also shares the story of Camp Pike/Robinson. Displays include two largescale models of the post (WWI and WWII) weapons, vehicles, airplane models, uniforms and photographs. Military ID or Driver’s License vehicle registration & proof of insurance required for FREE Admission. Arkansas National Guard Museum Located on Camp Robinson, N. Little Rock Take exit 150 off I-40 & follow signs to Camp Robinson HOURS: Mon-Fri 8am-3pm 501.212.5215 | arngmuseum.com Drill Weekends: Sat 8am-3pm 26 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SUMMER 2018

L’Attitude serves a variety of dishes, including a lamb gyro and onion rings. Love coffee? Rock-N-Java, Clinton’s coffee shop, has you covered.


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DIAMOND LAKES THERE’S A LOT TO LOVE ABOUT THE DIAMOND LAKES REGION.

Much of which you can see all around you – scenic drives, lakes and rivers, mountains, forests, state parks, attractions – while others are waiting to be discovered when you dig a little deeper. There are a myriad of lodging options from downtown hotels to lake resorts and award-winning marinas to use as outposts to access lake adventures. It’s a special place with history, adventure and beauty in these Ouachita Mountain foothills.

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Eat and Drink Before you hit the water, get your coffee fix at Rock-N-Java, an independent coffee shop that opens at 7 a.m.—just in time to make an early morning pit stop. They’ve got real (good) food, too. Or if a leisurely sit-down meal is what you’ve got in mind, visit L’Attitude, Clinton’s own finedining restaurant in a home-cooked atmosphere. Dishes range from chicken salad to stuffed flounder.

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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 27


PHOTOS: DEBORAH HORN AND ARKANSAS GAME AND FISH COMMISSION

Seven Devils Swamp, located inside the Seven Devils Wildlife Management Area near Monticello, is wild and isolated, says Scott Lane, Game & Fish Commission habitat biologist.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

F

BY DEBORAH HORN

or a long minute, there are no ambient sounds, no airplanes ripping through the clouds overhead, no trucks or cars rushing by on the street it’s so quiet that while sitting in a kayak on Cut Off Creek in search of a 200-plus year old cypress tree near Boggy Lake, silence, the listener’s ear drums strain. Then the solitary plunk of a bullfrog diving into the water breaks the silence of the bottomlands of Seven Devils Swamp. In the distance, a woodpecker sounds off with a series of quick distinctive strikes against a fluted cypress tree before silence once more falls. It’s a small slice of life at Seven Devils Wildlife Management Area near Monticello, where seven creeks or drains crisscross its more than 4,000 acres. “It’s [silence] rare in today’s world,” says Scott Lane, Game and Fish Commission habitat biologist. It also means kayakers, hikers, non-motorized bikers, campers and hunters are on their own, especially in spots without cell service. Drew Green, Game and Fish biologist at Seven Devils, says that shouldn’t deter people from visiting. A PRIMITIVE EXPERIENCE Only a few miles to the south, there are “very primitive” campsites at Cut Off Creek Wildlife Management Area, about 8,776 acres, and at Little Bayou Wildlife Management Area, about 1,303 acres. Both offer canoers and kayakers water trails that cut through exceptional and unspoiled vistas, says Green. Boaters can launch at any of the available boat ramps, and for those seeking a little solace from the city, they’ll find the WMAs are rarely peopled with kayakers or canoers, unlike the large rivers in Northwest Arkansas, Green says. Cut Off Creek, the Little Bayou and Seven Devils Swamp have boat ramps, and each WMA also has other unique features such as natural areas, swamps and waterfowl rest areas to explore. While any would make a scenic day trip, Green suggests considering boating all three over the course of a long weekend. If planning a trip, Green recommends going online to www.agfc.com and downloading Game and Fish’s detailed maps of the area. GPS positioning is available and can be dropped onto a phone, and Green recommends taking advantage of this, too. However, once in the WMA, cell service is spotty. Green offers a little more advice if traveling to any of the wildlife management areas to camp, hike or kayak: bring your own food, a compass, printed copies of the Game and Fish maps, extra power for your phone’s battery, your own boat and all camping supplies; wear good, water resistant shoes or boots, and carry plenty of bottled water. Also, follow all Game and Fish rules and regulations. Keep in mind, there are no bathrooms, showers or electricity at the camp sites. 28 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SUMMER 2018


Getting there is half the Fun

e l dd a P Hike & f a o L ar Sug d n a l s I n i a t n Mou

For the true outdoor enthusiast, nothing quite compares to hiking Sugar Loaf Mountain Island standing 1,000 feet tall in the middle of Greers Ferry Lake. This 300 million-year-oldmountain is one of the nation's first designated National Scenic Trails - with the view from the top being a breathtaking reward!

Photo courtesy AP&T

Getting to the island is half the adventure: rent a kayak and venture out on your own, or catch the Sugar Loaf Shuttle (daily) from the Fairfield Bay Marina. m

Noetewl !

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Left to Right: There are areas within the Seven Devils Wildlife Management Area where wildflowers, like this Brown-eyed Susan, bloom. An entrance to Cut-Off Creek Water Trail. This makes for exceptional canoeing or kayaking, says Drew Green, Game & Fish biologist at Seven Devils. For birders, Seven Devils Wildlife Management Area sits on the western edge of the Mississippi Flyway and offers amble sight-seeing opportunities. While its waters attract temporary guests, it also has permanent residents like the Great Blue Heron in this picture.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH “It’s a unique area,” says Green. Within just a few steps the coastal plains upland woods, filled with hardwoods and pines, morph into a spongy-floored swampy forest crowded with tupelo, cypress and their knees. Near Boggy Lake, all the trees are marked with a waterline ring around the trunk about four feet above the forest floor. It’s from the annual flooding, when the area is turned into a water wonderland for ducks and hunters. Seven Devils is also laced with seven creeks or drains that converge at Boggy Lake, and this makes for exceptional canoeing or kayaking, but unlike the Buffalo or White rivers, which have a fast-moving current to help push boats along, these, like Cut Off Creek, are lazy. They are so slow moving, in fact, it requires more paddle muscle, says Green, but the experience is worth the extra work. While there aren’t any rapids on any of the murky waterways, that doesn’t mean they’re free from hazards like hidden snags, floating logs, cypress knees or other obstacles, so use caution.

30 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SUMMER 2018

RESPECT THE WILDLIFE Green is the kind of guy who will go out of his way to avoid running over a rat snake on a gravel road. He practices what he preaches, saying, “Respect the wildlife.” These three wildlife areas are ideal habitat for wildlife that folks from Central and Northwest Arkansas might not normally encounter, including alligators—referred to as gators in South Arkansas. Lane says, “You may run across one, but keep your distance and don’t get too close. Absolutely do not feed them.” A growing number of black bears also call it home, Green says, but these tend to be shy and make themselves scarce when humans are around; however, mama bears will act a little aggressively when defending cubs. Lane says, when coming across one, “Back off,” but “If it looks like it’s coming toward you, yell at it.” Wild hogs have started moving into the area, and if encountering any, Lane suggests hollering at them. This should encourage them to go the other way. An unexpected meeting is unlikely because of a hog’s exceptional sense of smell. Snakes like cottonmouths (AKA water moccasins), copperheads and

rattlesnakes are plentiful but aren’t usually a problem. If bitten by a snake, Green recommends seeking medical attention, and says, “It won’t kill you, but it will hurt so badly, you think it’s going to.” In addition, the area is home to great blue, little green and American herons, squirrels, deer, raccoons, minks, beavers, and fishing includes bass, crappie, bluegill and catfish. Of course, there’s lots more. Again, Green empathizes respect for all the areas’ inhabitants and the habitat, adding, “Don’t litter and leave the area like you found it.” SEVEN DEVILS: DAUNTING TRAVELS “It has a reputation, whether because of the name, Seven Devils, or the old local folklore,” Lane muses. There are several different versions of how it got its name, including one that tells of a circuit preacher who was riding through the area when a storm blew up. Later, he told his congregation, “The devil is at war.” Whatever the story, the Seven Devils Wildlife Management Area remains untamed and easy to get lost in, Lane says, and that’s goes for Cut Off and Little Bayou areas, too.


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Sunrise. Sunset. Explore the View from Clinton, AR.

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GREERSLITTLE FERRYRED LAKERIVER

Explore the beautiful view of Greers Ferry Lake from Clinton, AR. Go to clintonchamber.com for information on shopping, events, activities, lodging and perhaps a beautiful view of your own to call home.

Paid for with a combination of state, Greers Ferry Lake/Little Red River Association, and Clinton Advertising & Promotion funds. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 31


The Community Fishing Program is designed to help families more easily access fishing.

IF YOU TEACH A KID TO FISH ARKANSAS GAME AND FISH PROGRAMS EXPAND FISHING AMONG UNDERSERVED POPULATIONS BY DWAIN HEBDA

32 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SUMMER 2018


PHOTOGRAPHY: ARKANSAS GAME AND FISH COMMISSION

C

lint Coleman, assistant coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commision’s (AGFC) Family and Community Fishing Program, likes to tell a story to illustrate the chord his program strikes in people, inspiring them to not only participate, but help further the mission of introducing children and young people to the joys of fishing the Natural State. “Last year we did Bentonville at this pond and we had such a great time,” he said. “Walmart came out and said, ‘Guys, we own this airport beside you. Let’s expand the pond and make it bigger.’ So they came in and made the place bigger. I’m like, ‘I’m not going to argue with you; do what you do!’” Fishing has always been one pillar of Arkansas outdoors culture and while the activity has lagged in some states, Arkansas’ angler numbers have stayed constant, despite trends that have steadily kept kids indoors. “In my generation going outside to play was a natural thing,” Coleman said. “I hate to sound like I’m preaching, but the tendency today is for children to stay inside with video games and watching TV and movies.” “People have a tendency to keep their children inside because ‘it’s dangerous outside’ or you may get hurt or it’s too hot. This generation is being kept inside because of simple fears and people don’t understand that outside is where they should be.” Coleman’s program stands in direct opposition to digital diversions and is one reason the future looks bright for the state’s fishing industry. AGFC maintains ponds throughout the state in communities large and small, stocked periodically with thousands of catfish and trout specifically for community and family fishing. The Family and Community Fishing program then promotes these sites through instructional programs and a slate of events targeting youth and families throughout Arkansas, particularly underserved populations. “One thing we like to do with our outreach is target fourth graders and up. One way we hit them is with school programs,” Coleman said. “We’re introducing them to what Game and Fish does, fishing opportunities and where fishing locations are.”

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 33


A grandfather teaches his grandson about the joys of fishing.

“we’re introducing them to what game and fish does, fishing opportunities and where fishing locations are.” —CLINT COLEMAN

34 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SUMMER 2018

“Dunbar Elementary (in Little Rock) is one of our big successes. We got in the door doing our classroom work and said, ‘Hey, why don’t you take some of the kids that get good grades or good citizenship and take them fishing.’ That’s an avenue to get the kids, the parents and even the administration out to the pond.” Coleman said churches and civic groups have also gotten involved, sponsoring fishing groups and outings that turn kids on to a positive, healthy activity. “There’s also a program called ARE which is Aquatic Resource and Education where certain groups can have events, fishing derbies,” he said. “That’s a great introduction to fishing that any type of organization can do.” Coleman said the program is so broad and accessible it removes many of the barriers to getting into fishing. As a result, don’t try to offer him excuses; he’s heard and has an answer to them all. “(Our programs) take away the excuse of ‘I don’t have a place to go.’ Okay, well you have community fishing ponds,” he said. “If you don’t know how, we have the ability to teach you. If we can teach you how to fish and right down the road is a pond that’s been stocked, you can go.” “And, if you don’t have tackle you can go to the library and check out rods and reels and stuff like that. We’re taking away the barriers to get people outside,” Coleman explains. Participation in events is growing by leaps and bounds, too. One of the biggest programs, dubbed The Big Catch and held in Little Rock’s MacArthur Park, hosted 900 people last year and 3,200 this spring. Officially, AGFC outreach programs have served more than 7,000 since spring break, but it’s impossible to gauge the true impact the ponds and programs have in allowing families and kids to spend an afternoon fishing.


becoming an outdoor woman

BOW HELPS WOMEN ENJOY THE OUTDOORS Statistics show most children are introduced to outdoor activities by a male parent or guardian. Statistic also show the number of households headed by single mothers continues to rise. In light of these trends, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission launched Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) 24 years ago to help educate women on elements of outdoor activities they could enjoy by themselves and, ideally, pass along to their children. The annual BOW weekend event provides participants with workshops ranging from wildlife photography and outdoor cooking to shooting, fishing, camping and boating skills. Participants attend four workshops of their choice over the weekend. This year’s BOW will be held September 28 to 30 and accommodates 135 women at the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H center in Ferndale. Cost is $150 and scholarships are available. For more information, please visit www.agfc. com/en/get-involved/first-stepsoutdoors/bow/. “In a lot of single parent or even double parent households, if (parents) are working, kids can go with their grandparents,” Coleman said. “That’s one thing that has really made our program unique. You take a child that’s four years old or five years old and PawPaw, who’s 75, can take them out and they can enjoy fishing.” “That’s one thing that is really great about fishing as opposed to hunting. PawPaw’s been sitting inside, he’s 75 years old, he can’t get out there and climb those hills. But he can take the kids to a park or to a lake and go fishing, especially with a community fishing pond. The age and interest gap can be breached because of the opportunity community fishing ponds statewide have afforded people.” For more information and list of community ponds, please visit www.agfc.com/en/fishing/wherefish/family-and-community/

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SWIM, CAMP, FLOAT AND HIKE

BY LACEY THACKER

36 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SUMMER 2018

PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRANT PORTNER


This towering bluff is only one of the beautiful rock formations visitors are treated to.

W

e awoke to cool air, a pleasant way to wake in a nearly-June Arkansas. We’d pitched a family-sized tent to share between myself and my friends Pedro and Amanda, along with Pedro’s niece, Ellie. Pedro rose early, before 6 a.m., disturbing those of us still sleeping—but he returned with a chocolate bar, so he was quickly forgiven. The chocolate inspired Amanda and me to rise and begin preparing breakfast. I’d premade a casserole with sausage, egg and feta cheese to heat on the propane stove, and we also added chopped potatoes and onions to round out our pre-float meal. When I mentioned the instant coffee I’d brought, Pedro made a face and pulled out a French press and gourmet coffee. Amanda had already started boiling water. “I knew I kept you around for a reason,” I said. Pedro was completing graduate school, and several of his cohort had never even been to the Buffalo River area, let alone camped nearby or taken a float trip. Memorial Day weekend after their classes were completed for the semester seemed an appropriate time to introduce the group to that most beautiful of rivers. As the others in our party began to rise, we made rumblings about getting out on the river early, but we didn’t manage to start packing lunches and gear until after 9. Eight people, seven boats, three dogs and two vehicles later, we headed back to Kyle’s Landing, where we’d tried to get a campsite the day before. Being the Friday before the holiday, we’d failed. But, happily, park rangers directed us to the Ozark Campground just a few miles away, and we found it much less crowded. Upon our return to Kyle’s Landing the morning of our float, we quickly unloaded gear, distributed paddles and life vests, and arranged coolers. We were floating down to the campground at which we’d

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 37


Some of the rock bluffs on the Buffalo River are over 400 feet high.

started, a trip totaling eleven miles. “You know, ten miles is usually about my limit for a day float,” Pedro said. “We can do it, but we’ll be done at the end.” The rest of us, having markedly less experience, just said, “Oh, it’ll be fine,” and hopped into our crafts. The water level was a perfect 4.5 feet, making for a few fun rapids to navigate, the first of them being just a few feet past the launch site. I sat in my boat for five minutes waiting on the others before I finally couldn’t stand it anymore and took off. The rapids were a beginner’s thrill, pushing me quickly downriver and into a quiet pool, vacant of people for just a few moments. My dog Sheba wasn’t too sure about the entire situation, and she became even less sure after she leaned over to smell the water and found herself in the water. She spotted shore and started swimming for it. She appeared rather disappointed when I towed her back into the boat, looking at me as if to ask, “Do I have to?” After the others approached, we began paddling in earnest, and we found ourselves ready for a shore lunch at the halfway point only two and a half hours later. The dogs ran around the shore while we hauled out two sandwiches a piece, chips and perhaps a beer or two. The 38 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SUMMER 2018

bluffs towered above us, and it was clear why this place has become such an ingrained part of Arkansas culture. A mile further downstream, we found a place to climb up and jump from the bluffs. As you might expect from recently-released graduate students, much swinging was to be had. Just after we reentered the water, we found ourselves facing what, if the water were higher, would have been a rather technical turn in the river. As it was, it was merely fun, and those of us who tipped were quickly righted. When our campground finally came into view, we’d only been on the water five hours, but we were, indeed, “done.” A FINAL BRIEF ADVENTURE Sunday morning dawned early but just as cool as Saturday morning. After a leisurely breakfast of scrambled eggs, potatoes, onions and coffee, we proceeded to pack as efficiently as we’d unpacked, finishing with a “police-line” across our camp to verify we’d collected all our belongings and trash. All but one of us had never been to Hawksbill Crag, so it seemed a perfect way to end our escapist weekend. It was only a brief one-hour detour, after all.


Top to bottom: Richard Vaerewyck and Pedro Ardapple pause in their exploration of the Buffalo River to supervise as others in the group try each other’s boats. The quaint square in Jasper was highly populated with visitors, a testament to the popularity of the area.

CAMP FOOD

The hike to Hawksbill is a popular and well-trafficked one that often requires visitors to park on the side of the road rather than in official parking spots, and we were no different. A moderate hike full of easy sections, the trail itself is shaded nearly the entire three miles round trip. When the trail breaks and the point becomes visible, it’s a stunning moment. Most of us from the area grew up exposed to images of Hawksbill Crag, but seeing it in person is a different experience—and one that occurs right on the edge of a very long tumble to the ground. Visitors beware. After we documented our experience with a few photos, we lay on the ground or on rocks awhile, philosophizing about the role of the outdoors in what it means to live a good life. We came to no conclusions, other than, “Life is good.”

The nicest part about going camping with a group that camps frequently is the food. While novice campers might be inclined to bring only ingredients for sandwiches, or only food that doesn’t require cooking, expert-level car campers bring small grills, propane stoves, and bratwursts, burgers, eggs, potatoes and chips to accompany it all. For dinner our first night, we prepared brats with melted cheese on sliced bread and laughed at the number each of us consumed—three to four— given that we hadn’t really expanded any energy. “It’s because we’re outside,” some said, “It just burns more calories.” Sounds good to me. The next evening, we were treated to moose burgers, bounty brought from Alaska by a member of our group. We certainly weren’t hurting for good food when we decided to pit stop in Jasper at the Blue Mountain Café before heading back to reality. The Blue Mountain Café is a little spot in the square that serves a variety of items, including a brisket sandwich, salads, pizza and delicious milkshakes, espresso drinks and baked goods. It’s definitely worth a pit stop anytime you’re in the area. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 39


Jeremy Maxwell and John Furness maneuvering in close to the bank for a pickup.

DOWN TO THE RIVER 27TH ANNUAL MULBERRY RIVER CLEANUP STORY AND PHOTOS BY BOB ROBINSON

T

his past March, on a gorgeous sunny Saturday, I joined over 270 other volunteers to roll up our sleeves and pitch in, or rather pickup, at the 27th Annual Mulberry River Cleanup. I was lucky enough to nab a spot on Michael Wiseman’s 14-foot Culebra Grande raft. We teamed up with several other volunteers to haul our boats upriver and put in at High Bank access. We then drifted downstream, maintaining constant vigilance for any trash littering the river’s shores. The dedicated groups of volunteers participating in the cleanup patrolled both the waters of the Mulberry River itself and along the shoulders of area roadways. Everything from metal cans, plastic cups, fast food wrappings, chairs, a deep freezer, automobile tires, a welding mask, a bowling pin and a random assortment of other discarded manmade objects was collected. One volunteer was even lucky enough to recover a hat they had lost over a year earlier while floating the river. In total, this year’s cleanup eradicated two heaping trailer loads of litter that had previously cluttered this beautiful river valley. The event has come a long way since Brad Wimberly, owner and operator of Historic Turner Bend Mulberry River Outfitter, and a handful of friends first organized the cleanup back in 1992. Wimberly hosted the event at the store, along with furnishing food and equipment for the volunteers. Wimberly began listing the cleanup in a newsletter he 40 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SUMMER 2018

published about activities at his store, which he continues publishing to this day, inviting others to join them. He was very excited when 60 volunteers showed up to help. Wimberly then worked out an arrangement with Rivertown BBQ of Ozark to cater the event in exchange for equipping the restaurant’s staff for a weekend float on the Mulberry River. As the years passed and word spread about the positive results being produced by the cleanup, others have stepped up to contribute to the event’s growing success. The Boston Mountain and Pleasant Hill Ranger districts of the Forest Service provides the trailers to haul off the collected trash, the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission provides trash bags, gloves, safety vests and t-shirts, and Green Sources Recycling handles the collected tires at no charge. Pack Rat Outdoor Center of Fayetteville also provides a canoe, at or below cost, to raffle off in an effort to raise money to support the cleanup and other conservation projects. The cleanup is a glowing example of how one individual can make a difference. That is if the individual has the determination and dedication shown by Brad Wimberly. Wimberly was living in Oak Ridge, Louisiana when he and friends first began travelling north to float the pristine waters of the Mulberry. One day he realized what he wanted to do with his life. At that time the Arkansas license plate slogan proclaimed “Land of Opportunity,” and he decided he would take them up on this. On May 1 of 1982 he purchased the Historic Turner Bend Store.


Right: Matt Nida, of Wister, Oklahoma, with his boat load of interesting trash collected while floating during the Annual Mulberry River Cleanup. (below) Michael Boyd, of Van Buren, with daughter Hailey and son Legend doing their part to cleanup the Mulberry River Valley.

During the early years Wimberly completed numerous major enhancements to the more than one-hundred-year-old business. Initially he attempted to preserve the original building; however he finally decided to construct a new, larger facility. He also cleared out several inviting campsites across the highway from the store, found a new home at the Fort Smith Trolley Museum for an old electric trolley car abandoned on the store’s property, constructed rental cabins and performed a complete makeover of the entire boat-rental operation. With the store transitioning into the vison that was in his mind, Wimberly broadened his scope to include the river itself, thus began the Annual Mulberry River Cleanup. That same year Congress designated the river as a “National Wild and Scenic River.” Over the years, the cleanup has garnered many awards that include The Envy Award from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, the Lodestar Award from Keep Arkansas Beautiful, and a nomination for the Outstanding Volunteer Service Award by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

MULBERRY RIVER SOCIETY On January 18th, 2014, a group of likeminded outdoor, river and canoe enthusiasts gathered at the Turner Bend store to form the Mulberry River Society (MRS), with the mission to protect and preserve the river and its watershed. From its beginning the MRS has had a major impact. They have not only stepped up to be a major help for Wimberly in planning and executing the cleanup, they raise money to fund conservation projects. They also devote numerous volunteer hours of work related to the Mulberry River, such as improved access at the Indian Springs and High Bank canoe put-ins. The MRS also supports whitewater boating education and safety by organizing the Annual ACC School of Whitewater Paddling and the Annual Jungle Boater Race. I came away from the cleanup feeling good about the day’s accomplishments. For I not only contributed to the overall experience for floaters who will visit the Mulberry River Valley by removing tons of trash, I also had a great time in the process. Put the first Saturday of March on your calendar next year to come out and join in the festivities.

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 41


HOT FISH

HOW THE TEMPERATURE AFFECTS FISH AND THEIR ENVIRONMENT BY AUSTIN ORR

T

he transition from spring to summer is arguably the best time of year to go fishing. Longer days and warming temperatures steadily wind the biological clocks in our fish species, increasing their metabolisms and making them hungry. Many fishermen know that gamefish can become scattered and much harder to catch during the hot days of summer that roll in soon after. What’s going on out in the water to make these changes? How can we use this knowledge to catch more fish and to also be more conscientious anglers when it comes to handling fish that might be heatstressed? First, we need to understand a couple things about water. It has what’s known as a high specific temperature. This means that water changes temperature relatively slowly compared to the air or ground around it. You’d notice this immediately if you jumped into a cool creek or lake on a hot summer day. Fish use this characteristic of water to help regulate their own temperature—they generally stay the temperature of the water around them. This means that if a fish feels hot, it’ll move until it finds cool water, and vice versa. The other characteristic of water we need to understand is its ability to hold on to oxygen. Fish need oxygen just like we do, especially when trying to chase down prey or fight against an angler. You can think of water like a sponge, with water molecules making up the lattice structure of the sponge. If we froze the picture and zoomed in close, you’d see spaces between the H20 molecules. Nestled in those spaces we’d find molecules of oxygen gas (O2) and other gases that have dissolved into the water from aquatic animals, plants and the atmosphere. We’d also see other natural compounds, like proteins and phosphorus, along with less desirable stuff like tiny chunks of plastic and other pollution. As water warms, individual water molecules gain more energy and start jostling each other around. The available oxygen that’s dissolved in water will decrease as gases like O2 get pushed out of the water more rapidly. As the temperature rises, the total amount of dissolved oxygen (DO) that can even exist 42 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SUMMER 2018

PHOTO: MIKE WINTROATH/ARKANSAS GAME AND FISH COMMISSION

As temperatures rise, the level of oxygen saturation in the water falls.


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“ANYTHING MUCH WARMER THAN THEIR NORMAL RANGE, AND THE RISK OF KILLING THE FISH BY CATCHING IT INCREASES DRAMATICALLY.”

Source: arkansasstripers.com

in the water—known as ‘saturation’—declines at a steady rate. For instance, water that is 95 degrees Fahrenheit can hold roughly half the DO that the same water could hold if it was 35 degrees. What does that mean for fish? When humans take a breath, small projecting filaments called alveoli increase the surface area of our lungs and help us absorb oxygen. Well, if we zoomed in for a look at a fish gill, we’d see lots of small filaments that help absorb oxygen directly into its blood from the water. Because water is much more dense than air, the gills are supported and keep their shape. When a fish is removed from the water, it can suffocate because the gills lose their support and clump together, collapsing much of their absorptive surface area. So far we’ve learned that when fish feel hot, they look for cooler water, and when water gets hot, it can’t hold on to as much of the precious oxygen fish need to survive. How do these things fit together? Scenario: Say, for instance, that you’re fishing for rainbow trout in a small stream during summer. It’s the middle of a hot day, and the water doesn’t feel as frigid as it usually does. You hook a nice trout that fights sluggishly and barely seems to notice when you gently slip it into your net. It just lays on its side, gasping in the current, even if you spend several minutes trying to revive it. Another scenario: You’re walking along a path near a park pond. You notice that the water is a bright shade of green and there are carp swimming along near the surface, appearing to gasp for air. Though these two incidents happened on different types of water with different fish, the symptoms both point to a lack of dissolved oxygen in the water. Species 44 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SUMMER 2018

like trout demand cold water and high DO to operate at peak performance. Anything much warmer than their normal range, and the risk of killing the fish by catching it increases dramatically. The carp in the second scenario were doing their best to deal with a scenario known as an ‘algal bloom.’ Algae and other aquatic plants produce the majority of the DO available in ponds and lakes—one reason that weed beds are a great place to fish. However, during the summer it becomes more likely that certain man-made or environmental factors can cause a huge spike, or bloom, of algae in an affected area. As the algae die off, bacteria will move in to play their role in decomposition by eating the algae. These bacteria also consume oxygen, and may multiply so quickly that the DO is reduced to almost nothing in the area of the bloom. The only place left to get oxygen at that point is right at the surface, so that’s where the fish go. ALL RIGHT, TO RECAP: All fish have a preferred operating temperature and DO range. They will typically move to seek out areas with the best conditions. Understanding which species look for what conditions will help anglers catch more fish. Anglers with an understanding of the sort of conditions that can stress fish may choose to limit the number of fish they catch or not fish for those species until conditions get better. If you’re curious about how temperature might be affecting fishing conditions in your local body of water, bring along a waterproof thermometer next time. It just might help you see the relationship between fish and the water in which they live in a whole new light.


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IT’S TIME FOR AN ARKANSAS SUMMER THERE’S SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT THE ADVENTURES TO BE HAD WHEN TEMPERATURES RISE. WHETHER IT’S SPENDING A DAY ON THE RIVER, WATCHING FIREFLIES DANCE NEAR YOUR CAMP OR TEACHING SOMEONE HOW TO FISH, ARKANSANS HAVE A UNIQUE ABILITY TO REVEL IN SUMMER’S GLORY. TO PROVE IT, WE’VE COLLECTED IMAGES FROM OUR READERS THAT SHOW JUST HOW MUCH FUN CAN BE FOUND ACROSS THE STATE.

Pruitt to Hasty on a SUP. @kayakarkansas hasing. way. @c a t h ig n e dance th day and Hike all plicity pure.sim

A pho togra pher a nd

Sunday afternoon done right. @coleyraeh

padd ler at work. @nov ostud io

HAVE AN IMAGE YOU WANT TO SHARE? TAG US @ARKANSASWILD. WHO KNOWS? WE MIGHT JUST PICK YOUR PHOTO TO BE INCLUDED NEXT! 46 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SUMMER 2018


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Arkansas Wild | Summer | 2018  
Arkansas Wild | Summer | 2018