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SUMMER 2010

beautyof

Summer

LONG LIVE THE KINGS!

The Nature Conservancy creates its 41st Preserve

SWEET, COOL, FREE

THE CAVE CITY WATERMELON FESTIVAL

A Tornado of Birds

The Purple Martins of Bird Island


22Fall Spring 20072008 • ARKANSAS • ARKANSAS WILD WILD


TABLE OF CONTENTS I

n the middle of Lake Ouachita there is a small island that has a big impact on birds. At less than a tenth of an acre, Bird Island appears to be not much more than a strip of bald cypress, but that is more than enough space for tens of thousands of migrating Purple Martins to roost on each year.

Long Live Kings! the

The NaTure CoNservaNCy CreaTes iTs 41sT preserve oN The KiNgs river

L

By Jay Harrod ast summer, on an unseasonably cool, cloudless weekday, I took a late afternoon float on the Kings River near Eureka Springs. I’ve paddled the river many times, but this was the first time I’d done so by myself. With my light-action rod and reel baited for smallmouth bass, I pushed in at the Rockhouse public access point and soon found myself completely alone. There wasn’t another soul on the river, which on this day flowed slow and clear. Before long my canoe and any stress drifted slowly away as the surrounding rock bluffs grew tall. I was soothed by the sound of rippling water and singing birds, until the calm was broken by the shrill calls of two otters I spotted on the bank before they slipped into the river. Throughout the float, I startled herons, egrets, deer and even a bobcat as my canoe sliced silently through the stream.

8 12 14

TORNADO OF BIRDS

The PurPle MarTins of Bird island

long live the kings

The Nature Conservancy creates its 41st preserve on the Kings River. By Jay Harrod

16 20

lake ouachita vista trail adds more miles By Zoie Clift

Education Director & Bird Conservation Director Audubon Arkansas

26 30

about its significance, Audubon turned to Mountain Pine High School, nestled along the lake. In the summers of 2008 and 2009, Audubon worked with students of the Mountain Pine EAST program to formally document the roost, which is thought to have existed for the last 20 years. Under the leadership of EAST facilitator Michael Vincent, students Wyatt Caldwell and Eli Smith coordinated a team of classmates and community volunteers

a tornado of birds

The purple martins of Bird Island. By Mary Smith, Dan Scheiman

Cave spelunking By Emily Griffin

hawksbill Crag

Where were the ducks? By Andi Cooper

Beauty of Summer The PhoTograPhy of

a.C. “ChuCk” haralson

W

norTh liTTle roCk farmer's markeT

e travel from Point A to Point B constantly every day. We see the wildflowers that decorate Arkansas’ roadsides but we rarely take the time to stop and enjoy

sailing on lake maumelle

them. A.C. “Chuck” Haralson, Chief Photographer for the Arkansas State Parks and Tourism Department,

seeks out the beauty that summers in Arkansas have to offer and we have become familiar with many popular destinations through viewing his work. While he’s sent on assignment photographing festivals, attractions and more, Haralson also seeks out beauty in the simplest forms creating the timeless images we all love. On the following pages, Arkansas Wild presents Haralson’s photography—simply and beautifully.

Discovering (again!) arkansas's great river road

Geocaching adventure introduces new locations to life-long Arkansas Delta resident. By Kimberly J. Williams

IF YOU COULD have only ONE By Emily Griffin

Sweet, Cool, Free By Kat Robinson

A

perfect little break in the summertime heat ... made better by a taste of heaven. That’s my impression of the Cave City Watermelon Festival, the big annual event celebrating the World’s Sweetest Watermelons the second weekend of August. I’ve gone many times. The first time, it was to try out those sweet watermelons on their own ground. I’ve returned again and again to enjoy the atmosphere; the laid-back late summer soiree in Cave City Park where folks take their time and all the watermelon you can eat is free. I actually toyed with the idea of skipping last year’s festival, worried that the heat would be too much for a (then) five-month pregnant chick to handle. But the night before the big event the heat broke, and instead of 100-plus degree temperatures in the shade the thermometer bobbed along in the 80s. When I arrived and parked, the car show was in full swing — teenagers who’d fixed up their family cars sharing the exhibit space with professionals and weekend garage monkeys. As I made my way toward the center of the park, I noticed children clambering over the playground as parents watched from a distance, chattering among themselves. Older gentlemen were sharing stories over the tractor display — some tractors out-aging even the octogenarians in the crowd. The wind kicked up a little, and there was an almost felt sigh from attendees who welcomed the movement. At the festival pavilion, attendees were handed a Dollar General bag that contained a couple of pens and a Mardi Gras beaded necklace with a big Cave City Watermelon Festival medallion. There was also a program, sharing what was coming up in the afternoon. The sacks, I came to find later, were for

sunflowers in The delTa

34 38 42

PurPle Coneflowers aT lake forT smiTh sTaTe Park

Twin falls in jasPer

Beauty of summer

Photography of A.C. "Chuck" Haralson

calendar of events

news briefs

on the cover

Cave City Watermelon Festival

22

By Mary Smith & Dan Scheiman

The Kings River is popular among paddlers.

During late summer, after nesting, Purple Martins leave their bird houses and gather in large numbers at staging areas before flying south to winter in South America. Bird Island is one such staging area in Arkansas. The birds arrive at Bird Island around the third week of July and leave around the fourth week of August. They convene in the trees at the north end of the narrow island in an area not much bigger than a classroom. Herons and egrets roost and nest at the southern end. During the day, Purple Martins feed across the landscape, fattening up for migration. Each evening, however, the martins head to the island in droves from all directions. For over an hour before sunset they swirl in the sky like a loose tornado, their numbers swelling as more and more birds arrive in a steady stream. When the time comes to roost, they descend into the trees, crammed wing-towing, their weight pulling down the branches. There in the trees, surrounded by water, they are safe from predators. When morning comes, the birds depart en masse, heading out in all directions to feed again. The morning mass of departing birds is so large and dense that it shows up on Nexrad Radar as a giant, exploding donut. It was this radar display that caught the attention of Audubon Arkansas and led to a special partnership with the Mountain Pine High School Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) program. After seeing the radar images, learning about the presence of a massive martin roost, and wondering

Prize-winning melons.

those watermelon rinds... a good idea, for sure. The crowd was starting to thin out a bit, as many of the festival-goers took off for lunch. Some headed on foot down to Sonic, a few blocks away and a major sponsor for the event. Others headed back to their cars to grab a bite of lunch from coolers and picnic baskets. And some brought money to eat on site. Several of the local churches were offering cheap eats — like the $2.75 burger at the Free Will Baptist Church stand. Drinks went for $1 for bottled water and 75 cents for soda. For the more adventurous, there were some true festival foods. One booth offered a plethora of fried foods — fried green tomatoes, fried pickles, ribbon fries, sweet potato fries, sour cream fries, deep fried Oreos, deep fried Twinkies, and Apple Dumplings — presumably also deep-fried. Another offered the almost impossible to conceive of combination of Reuben sandwiches and frog legs. There was also an Ozark Kettle Corn vendor and the inflatable ice cream stand. A steady stream of visitors passed by the wagon bearing the winners of the watermelon growing contests. Big, healthy, shiny melons of varying colors bore familiar names —Penn, Patterson, Wooldridge, Perkey. There are six families that continue the watermelon growing tradition around here, and it’s always a tight battle to see who can bring home the ribbons in any given year. I wandered on and checked out the stands. Vendors were selling jewelry, t-shirts, toys, sunglasses, bags — all sorts of

things. These were mostly small business people from the area. Up towards the gate at the northeast corner, members of the Cruisadors (a chapter of the Arkansas Baptist Bikers Association) were handing out water to the thirsty for free. Across the park, the fire department had sat up a dunking booth. The guy in the booth was trading jabs with a guy who hadn’t been able to sink him on six successive throws. A family came up, paid for their balls, and a young boy started his aim from the youngster’s line. He threw two balls in rapid succession — and down went the victim into the drink. He came up from the water laughing, apparently pleased at the dunking, and congratulated the young man. The crowd was growing under the trees, as families brought out their chairs and set up for the day. The Gaylon Sandefur Band broke into their popular song, “Chicken Truck on Highway 25.” That one drew quite a few chuckles. There aren’t really any bad seats out on the lawn — the park is set out well, with the bandstand placed on the edge of the natural bowl. The wind lolled through the crowd, bringing with it the ruffle of the air sock from the Sno-Cone concession, the scent of syrup and funnel cakes and fried onions, and the dull roar of a hundred different conversations. People would come out, set up their chairs and coolers, and then walk off — completely unconcerned about whether someone might come along and disturb their possessions. There’s a sense of trust that’s assumed and sacred at these small-town festivals, and I am thankful for it.

sweet, cool, free

Cave City Watermelon Festival By Kat Robinson

SUMMER 2010

Purple coneflower at Lake Fort Smith State Park by A.C. "Chuck" Haralson

beautyof

SUMMER

LONG LIVE THE KINGS!

The NaTure CoNservaNCy CreaTes iTs 41sT Preserve

4 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010

SWEET, COOL, FREE

The Cave CiTy WaTerMeLoN FesTivaL

A TORNAdO OF BIRdS

The PurPLe MarTiNs oF Bird isLaNd


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CONTRIBUTORS Zoie Clift is a travel writer for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and covers the Timberlands and the Ouachitas. She enjoys photography and kayaking, biking, and running the many trails found across the state.

AndreA “Andi” Cooper is a native Mississippian and holds a degree from Mississippi State University in Wildlife and Fisheries Science. Cooper currently holds a position with Ducks Unlimited’s Southern Regional Office in Ridgeland, MS as the Communications Biologist. While she’s not working, Cooper enjoys bird watching, deer hunting, outdoor photography, canoeing, camping, and wondering the woods with her dog, Jake.

A.C. “ChuCk” hArAlson is a 31-year veteran of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Joining the department in 1977 as darkroom technician, he worked his way up to photographer. In 1982, Haralson assumed the role of chief photographer for the division. He travels the state capturing Arkansas’s scenic natural beauty, travel attractions, cities and regions, natural and historic resources, outdoor and cultural activities, festivals and special events, wildlife, flora and fauna. Haralson’s work has appeared in a wide variety of mediums and publications including National Geographic Traveler, National Geographic Discovery, Better Homes and Gardens, Women’s Day, Camping Life, and Backpacker. Major newspapers in the U.S. include the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.

JAy hArrod, a spokesperson for The Nature Conservancy, is a native Arkansan who's floated close to two dozen streams, including the Kings River, where the Conservancy has created its newest preserve in Arkansas. "The Kings River is incredibly scenic. It's a great place to float, fish, picnic and get away from it all," Jay says.

6 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010

kAt robinson is a food and travel writer based in Little Rock. She writes Eat Arkansas, the blog for food lovers for the Arkansas Times. She also writes Tie Dye Travels, her syndicated column and blog about her journeys both in and out of Arkansas. Before starting her writing career in 2007, Kat produced and wrote for several Arkansas-based television and radio outlets, including an eight year stint producing Today's THV This Morning. These days, she travels Arkansas and the South searching for good stories, tall tales and the next great little restaurant. Kat is a featured blogger with Lonely Planet and a hamburger correspondent for Serious Eats, and her work is often featured in Deep South Magazine. dAn sCheimAn, A.K.A., Dr. Dan the Bird Man, is the Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon Arkansas. The Amos W. Butler Audubon Society supported Dan's Ph.D. research at Purdue University. “Now”, says Dr. Dan, "it is my turn to give back to the organization that gave me so much." Dan holds a B.S. in Natural Resources from Cornell University, and an M.S. in Biological Sciences from Eastern Illinois University as well. Dan has been birding for over 20 years and has over 10 years of experience conducting bird research. mAry smith is the Director of Education for Audubon Arkansas. Prior to joining Audubon Arkansas, Mary was the director of environmental education policy for the National Audubon Society. Before that, Mary served as Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Education. She has worked as an administrator and teacher for over 23 years in Arkansas schools. Mary holds a B.A. and M.A. in English, and a M.Ed. in Gifted and Talented Education.

kim WilliAms is the travel writer for Arkansas Parks and Tourism for the Arkansas Delta and a portion of the North Central Ozarks. In her spare time, Kim enjoys geocaching and exploring historical sites. As an Arkansas Delta native, she also enjoys photographing the sites of the region, especially kudzu "sculptures" and agricultural crops found along Crowley's Ridge. Kim's odd love of kudzu can only be attributed to the fact that she has none in her yard and has never had to control it!


Heather Baker Publisher hbaker@arktimes.com

Editorial Emily Griffin Editor emily@arktimes.com Kai Caddy Editorial/Creative Art Director kai@arktimes.com

Advertising Kim Dill Account Executive kim@arktimes.com Pam Irmen Account Executive pam@arktimes.com

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Production Sheryl Kee Production Manager Roland Gladden Advertising Traffic Manager Patrick Jones Graphic Artist Kellie McAnulty Graphic Artist Mike Spain Graphic Artist

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Weldon Wilson Controller Robert Curfman IT Director Linda Phillips Billing/Collections Angie Fambrough Office Manager Anitra Hickman Circulation Director 201 E. MARKHAM ST. SUITE 200 LITTLE ROCK, AR 72201 501-375-2985 All Contents © 2010 Arkansas Wild

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Long Live Kings! the

The Nature Conservancy creates its 41st preserve on the Kings River

L

Ethan Inlander/TNC

By Jay Harrod ast summer, on an unseasonably cool, cloudless weekday, I took a late afternoon float on the Kings River near Eureka Springs. I’ve paddled the river many times, but this was the first time I’d done so by myself. With my light-action rod and reel baited for smallmouth bass, I pushed in at the Rockhouse public access point and soon found myself completely alone. There wasn’t another soul on the river, which on this day flowed slow and clear. Before long my canoe and any stress drifted slowly away as the surrounding rock bluffs grew tall. I was soothed by the sound of rippling water and singing birds, until the calm was broken by the shrill calls of two otters I spotted on the bank before they slipped into the river. Throughout the float, I startled herons, egrets, deer and even a bobcat as my canoe sliced silently through the stream.


The Kings River is popular among paddlers.


10 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010

The Kings is known among anglers for its ample smallmouth bass.

ErniE KilmAn, KingS rivEr OutfittErS

I don’t think I touched my rod for the first hour or so. I was too amazed by the wildlife and the serenity of the Kings. I had no idea at the time, but less than a year later, this place would become The Nature Conservancy’s 41st preserve in Arkansas. In March I floated the same stretch of river. This time I knew I was floating through the Kings River Preserve, which follows seven miles on both sides of the river. This time I knew I was paddling a stream where my children and their children could one day experience the same natural wonders. These were the thoughts I had as we pushed into the river on that bright and clear spring day. Other thoughts concerned our safety. Unlike my last float here, the river was rushing after late winter rains and snowmelt from a foot of snow just days earlier. But Ernie Kilman, who owns Kings River Outfitters and accompanied us, said there was nothing to fear. (He knew everyone in our party had some paddling experience.) “Just keep away from downed trees or any other obstacles,” he said. “All you have to do is steer. We’ll be on the freeway today.” Then I asked, “Are you renting canoes today?” Ernie replied, “Oh no. This water level is way too high and dangerous. I don’t put canoes on the river when the water is up like this.” So much for comforting us. It didn’t take long, however, before we realized Ernie was right — it was like floating on a freeway. That day we didn’t see anyone else on the river, either. I’m sure, though, an eagle soaring high above spotted us. As we steered our canoes downstream, Tim Snell, the associate director of the Conservancy in Arkansas, explained why the Conservancy purchased the property. “It’s all about the Kings River,” Tim said. “We purchased this preserve to help maintain and improve the quality of water in this stream.” He pointed out an area where soft alluvial soil was washing into the Kings. As we passed, another chunk splashed into the river. “We’ll work to fix banks like that,” Tim said. “We’ll change the

The exTraordinary Kings The State of Arkansas has designated the Kings River an “Extraordinary Resource Waterbody” or ERW. Many of the most pristine and important streams in Arkansas have ERW designations that protect them from potentially detrimental actions such as damming and gravel mining. According to the state, ERWs warrant extra protection because of their “scenic beauty, aesthetics, scientific values, broad scope recreation potential and intangible social values.” Of 20,000 stream miles in the state, only 1,500 miles have this designation.

if you go The Nature Conservancy encourages people to experience the Kings River Preserve via the river. Three outfitters provide canoe and kayak rentals, shuttle services and/or camping sites. Those interested in floating the stream can visit arkansas.com to learn more about the Kings River, outfitters who provide services there, and nearby lodging and dining options. Or phone (501) 682-7777 to order a vacation kit with much of the same information. Property surrounding the preserve is private, and there is no camping on the river without permission. There are several gravel bars on the Kings that are ideal for picnicking – just pack out any trash, “leave no trace,” and respect posted signs.

hydrology of the stream here to divert water away from the banks, and then we’ll plant trees and other vegetation along the banks. Healthy streams need vegetated banks.” The next step will be to reforest the adjacent, low-lying field. “This will slow the stream down during high-water events,” he said. “When that happens, suspended sediment will settle onto the forest floor. With a little help, this river will heal itself.” Excess sediment, Tim said, can fill in gravel beds and choke out organisms at the bottom of the food chain and affect those at the top, like smallmouth bass. “We want to help keep the Kings River a prime spot for smallmouth bass.” The Kings, which gets its start in the Boston Mountains in Newton County, is unusual in that it flows north — some 90 miles through Madison and Carroll counties into Table Rock Lake, which lies mostly in Missouri and serves as a source of drinking water for dozens of communities.

As we stopped on a gravel bar for lunch, Tim talked about some of the 18 species of fish, crayfish, mussels, turtles and aquatic insects that live within the Kings River watershed and are found only within the Ozark Highlands. The only downside to the high water during our float was that the trip to Kings River Outfitters, which sits on land surrounded by the property the Conservancy purchased, ended far too soon. “This new preserve is the best thing that’s ever happened to the Kings River,” Ernie said as he helped us pull our canoes from the stream. “My son grew up with the Kings River in his backyard. I don’t know if he realizes how much that will mean to him someday, but it will. And now I know he’ll be able to float the same river he grew up on — the same natural river.” To view additional photos and learn more about the Kings River Preserve and the Conservancy’s other preserves and work in the Natural State, visit nature.org/arkansas. 


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Lake Ouachita Vista Trail adds

By Zoie Clift

More Miles

Travel Writer Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

A

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT PARKS & TOURISM

new leg of the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail, or as it is affectionately known by its acronym — the LOViT — is now open. The trail is being created with a specific goal in mind: as a means for people to enjoy the beauty of Lake Ouachita without being in or on the water. “Visitors can now integrate hiking and biking with planned activities on the lake thereby expanding their Lake Ouachita experience,” said Jerry Shields, president of the Traildogs, a group of volunteers who provide support in the design, planning, and construction of the route. Shields said around 23 miles are open. The new section ties to the old Charlton Trail. When completed, the route will include around 40 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails along the shores of the lake. LOViT, which is being built in stages, is a joint effort of many groups in the area to link the resorts and campgrounds around the lake together via a trail system. It meanders through the Ouachita National Forest with spurs providing lake vistas and a more challenging hike up to the top of Hickory Nut Mountain for a view of the lake. Five phases of the trail are complete. “This is a huge addition to the state and area,” said Bill Barnes, owner of Mountain Harbor Resort in Mount Ida. “Hikers, bikers, and marathon runners use it … people from all over the nation. The lake attracts people when seasonal warm weather hits and the trail draws people in the fall, winter and spring. It’s the best of both worlds.” So what makes this route stand out from others? “Accessibility,” Shields said. “Our design of connecting all the resorts and campgrounds on the south side of Lake Ouachita provides easy access to every section of the trail and the accommodations along the length of it.” Shields said the route is designed for all levels and attracts a wide range of users. Parts of the trail are handicapped accessible and groups ranging from adventure racers to hiking groups make use of the varied terrain. The route is also sanctioned by the International Mountain Biking Association. “Biking groups from all over the country who often visit our area to ride the Womble Trail have now added the LOViT and are extending stays in the area to ride both,” Shields said. 12 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010

No matter what mode is used to explore the terrain, the main goal is to introduce all users to the beauty of the area. “My personal favorite sections of the trail are three and four which are located on the south side of Hickory Nut Mountain,” Shields said. “We purposely took the trail across the top of this mountain to include the stunning views of Lake Ouachita that are only found at the Hickory Nut Mountain Vista.” The construction of LOViT is being developed via a collaborative effort between volunteers and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Forest Service. “For the last five years we have constructed four to five miles each winter,” said Shields. “I think it’s important folks know the development of this trail system is the effort of a coalition of federal, state and local Lake Ouachita organizations put together by a Vista Trail small group of local volunteers who had a vision and have worked for five years to bring this to fruition.” According to Barnes, the expanse of the collaboration the Traildogs were able to pull together stands out. “Everybody stepped up to the plate,” Barnes said. “All for the spirit of building this.” Barnes said plans for the next leg of the route are to go from Crystal Springs to Brady Mountain, which encompasses the largest section of uninterrupted wilderness on the trail. He said finishing this last section will take around 2-3 years. “This will be the most difficult section,” he said. “Not physically building it but getting it laid out and the environmental assessment on it.” Barnes said though the last leg will be a challenging section to complete, he is confident in the development efforts to finish LOViT. “Everything about this trail, the volunteers that put it together, the opportunity for folks to enjoy the forest…it’s been great,” Barnes said. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone.” For more information, visit www.lakeouachitavistatrail. org. 


ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT PARKS & TOURISM

A new leg of the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail is now open for hiking and biking.


Where

?

ducks

were the

Weather causes fowl to relocate MIKE CHECKETT

By Andi Cooper

Southern Region Communications Biologist

T

he 2009-10 waterfowl season was a strange one for many hunters, and Ducks Unlimited has heard one question over and over – “Where were the ducks?” As with any wildlife-related question, there are several factors to consider and no truly simple answer. The first consideration is conditions on the breeding grounds the previous spring and summer – and this year conditions were great! All indicators pointed to good reproductive success and an impressive fall flight. Second, we must look at weather patterns – freeze over in mid-latitude areas and cold enough weather for long enough periods are required to move birds south. Again, this past winter was essentially perfect for pushing waterfowl to southern hunters. And the Mid-Winter Survey results across the south (Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi) generally support the conclusion that Old Man Winter pushed the birds south this year. So where were the ducks? “They were here, but they weren’t where they ‘usually’ are, primarily because of consistent, widespread, heavy rainfall – a pattern that began in July and persisted 14 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010

through February,” DU Director of Conservation Planning Tom Moorman said. National Weather Service data shows Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee had the wettest year on record in 115 years of record keeping. Such widespread rain over such a long period probably had several important effects on waterfowl habitat. First, significant growing season flooding occurred – peaking in October with many, if not all, major rivers well out of their banks. This probably had a negative effect on waterfowl food production by destroying much of the moist soil plant seed crop in low lying areas traditionally frequented by puddle ducks and duck hunters. “If food is absent, ducks quickly move on to seek better conditions elsewhere. So, growing season flooding probably contributed to the absence of ducks in some places that typically offer great hunting in the South,” Moorman said. Add to a loss of food quantity the fact that many traditional waterfowling areas were deeply flooded – often more than 10 feet deep in habitats along major river systems.


Looking Forward; 2010-11 Season

W

hat can hunters do to make sure the upcoming season is a good one? First, understand that scouting is the answer if you want the best chance at successful hunts. Waterfowl are mobile and migratory, which means they are capable of moving often and over long distances. Keep an eye on the weather, including local rainfall – and thus habitat

availability – and strong cold fronts at higher latitudes – and thus large migration movements. While population numbers undoubtedly affect seasons here, the relative strength of our season has a lot to do with winter weather patterns (i.e. snowfall north, fronts, cold weather here) and availability of water (not too much nor too little). Second, support Ducks Unlimited and our work on the breeding grounds as well as our work in Arkansas. Science shows that most of what impacts waterfowl populations occurs on the breeding grounds. Dry conditions in the Prairie Pothole Region result in fewer ducks in most years, while wet years generally provide increases in waterfowl populations.   “We need solid support from southern duck hunters to maintain the necessary habitat base in the prairies that will yield fall flights to support liberal seasons. If we continue to lose grasslands and wetlands in the prairies, restrictive seasons could be the norm, and closed seasons could be a real possibility” said Dr. Scott Stephens, director of conservation planning for Ducks Unlimited’s Great Plains Office in Bismarck, North Dakota.

A

Ducks Unlimited in Arkansas

rkansas has always been a duck hunter’s Mecca, and Ducks Unlimited is doing all it can to make sure that waterfowl in the Natural State have access to adequate resources. Ducks Unlimited is currently working on several important projects in Arkansas, including habitat restoration at Wrape Plantation Rest Area on Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area, land acquisition at Dagmar WMA, and restoration of Water’s Bayou on White River National Wildlife Refuge.

Through 2009, Ducks Unlimited conserved over 330,000 acres of waterfowl habitat in Arkansas, including nearly 70 projects on 26 public waterfowl areas. From Frog Bayou WMA in western Arkansas to Bayou Meto WMA in the eastern part of the state, Ducks Unlimited projects protect and restore vital habitat for waterfowl state-wide. “Ducks Unlimited’s success in Arkansas is due in large part to the strength of its partnership with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission,” Hilburn said. More than 52,000 acres of public lands have been conserved through this partnership, providing increased resources for waterfowl as well as increased opportunity for waterfowl hunters. Not only do DU and AGFC partner on projects in Arkansas, but the Commission also supports Ducks Unlimited Canada and its work on the breeding grounds. “Much like the life cycle of waterfowl takes them from north to south and back again, Ducks Unlimited’s mission keeps us working from the breeding grounds through the flyways and on to the wintering grounds,” Hilburn said. “No other organization delivers waterfowl conservation at a continental scale.” Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow, and forever. For more information: www.ducks. org. 

DUCKS UNLIMITED

“Water depth is perhaps the most critical factor for puddle duck distribution – over about 18 inches and it becomes too deep for birds to reach food on the bottom,” said Craig Hilburn, DU Manager of Conservation Programs. State and federal agency biologists flying Mid-Winter Surveys in early January almost all reported seeing concentrations of birds outside of traditional habitats in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. “In short, upon arrival this fall waterfowl encountered more water in more places – providing lots of options for birds to find food, and not always in places hunters frequent,” Hilburn said. The winter of 2009-10 reinforces our need to manage expectations. Liberal hunting seasons and regulations do not always translate into great hunting success. Wild birds combined with wild weather can still challenge hunter success rates. The good news in all of this is that over winter survival rates and physiological condition of birds should have been excellent – meaning birds should be able to return to the prairies and other breeding areas early (weather permitting) and in great shape to produce the next generation of waterfowl if wetland conditions are favorable.


Discovering (Again) Arkansas's Great River Road

Geocaching Adventure Introduces New Locations to Life-long Arkansas Delta Resident By Kimberly J. Williams Travel Writer Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Geocaching Arkansas’s Great River Road: Day One

A

s a life-long resident of the Arkansas Delta (other than that year and six days I lived and worked in a different part of The Natural State), I have traveled at least part of Arkansas’s Great River Road almost daily. My hometown of Marianna lies along the Arkansas Delta’s two national scenic byway — the Great River Road National Scenic Byway and Crowley’s Ridge Parkway National Scenic Byway. In honor of the 70th anniversary of the 10-state route, the Great River Road Geocaching Project was created. The original purpose of the project was to encourage travelers to journey along the celebrated roadway. The geocaches were placed at historically significant locations along the Great River Road. In Arkansas, we placed caches at museums, historic sites, and recreational areas in the 10 counties within the Delta. I recently traveled the Arkansas section of the Great River Road with the perfect tour guide — Nancy Clark, assistant tourism director for Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and director of the Arkansas portion of the historic route. Nancy and I have been 16 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010

working on a geocaching trail throughout the 10 counties of the Arkansas Delta situated along the Great River Road for almost 18 months. Finding caches along the route has become so popular that it was decided to place at least 10 more of the “treasures” in the Arkansas Delta. Nancy and I met on the first day of our adventure in Forrest City and headed to the northern section of the Arkansas Delta. We had discussed options for cache placement over the past few weeks and one of the locations she mentioned was at the arch in Blytheville. I assumed she was referring to the arch located in Blytheville’s charming downtown. As we headed northwest, I kept wondering, exactly how are we getting to the downtown on this route! Finally, I just had to ask, “Nancy, where are we going?” I soon got my first lesson in “Kim, you don’t know everything about the Arkansas Delta!” I was about to visit an historical location I’d never seen before. Nancy was referring to the Blytheville Arch, located at the Arkansas-Missouri border on U.S. 61. The arch is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and commemorates the completion of the paving of the first stretch of highway through Mississippi County. The impressive structure is the only

known remaining concrete arch spanning a federal highway. The curved monument was the perfect location for a geocache. Within minutes of arriving, the first of the new caches had been placed. We hit the Great River Road once again, heading southeast to Osceola. Nancy had the perfect idea for the placement of this cache: Sans Souci Landing. Located south of Osceola, San Souci offers an amazing view of Old Man River. It’s a favored spot along the river because of the public boat ramp offering access to the Mississippi. It’s a wonderful spot to plop down a lawn chair and watch the boats and barges float along the mighty waterway. The Mississippi River is a vital component in the culture of the Arkansas Delta. The river has been both friend and foe to the people of the area, we’ve lived with it and despite it. It has defined the history of the region. It is also one of the most beautiful parts of the landscape of the Arkansas Delta. After spending a few moments gazing upon the Father of Waters, I got busy and planted the cache, hoping those who come to find the geocache will enjoy the view as much as I have. As we reluctantly leave the banks of the Mississippi River and head to our next cache location, we pass through Wilson, Ark. The town is named for


ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS & TOURISM

Robert Edward Lee Wilson (known as Lee), who was born in Mississippi County in 1865 shortly before the end of the Civil War. His father had been a successful planter in the area and Lee inherited 400 acres upon his father’s death in 1870. At 17, Wilson became legally recognized as an adult and began building what would eventually become an empire encompassing 65,000 acres, a lumber company, and cotton gins. By the time of his death in 1933, Wilson owned and operated the largest cotton plantation in the South. The nearby towns of Victoria and Marie are named after his daughters and the city name of Armorel is formed from Arkansas, Missouri, and Robert E. Lee. Wilson built a home for his wife in the Tudor style and as the town of Wilson began growing, the structures followed the same design. After leaving Wilson, we turn toward the west and make our way toward Tyronza, Ark. Continuing west along Ark. 118, we happened upon Whitton Farms, a place neither Nancy nor I had ever had a chance to visit. Owned and operated by Jill and Keith Forrester, Whitton Farms is comprised of 25 acres of land used to grow heirloom vegetables, native plants, shiitake mushrooms, and herbs. You can find out more about Whitton Farms

Sans Souci Landing in Oseola.

and their use of organic and sustainable farming methods by visiting www. WhittonFarms.com. Our next stop is Tyronza, home of the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum. The museum tells the story of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union (STFU), which was formed in Tyronza in 1934 in an effort to secure higher wages and better living conditions for farm laborers. The museum exhibits focus on the story of tenant farming and sharecropping and the movement to remove abuses from the widely used system. The museum is located in the building that housed H.L. Mitchell’s dry cleaner and the service station owned by Clay East, two of the original organizers of the Union. The building also served as the unofficial headquarters of the STFU. Visit http://STFM.astate. edu to learn more about the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum. We headed to West Memphis. We felt the perfect location for our new cache in Crittenden County would be the recently dedicated Arkansas Delta Music Trail historical marker commemorating the Plantation Inn. The Plantation Inn opened in West Memphis in 1943 and boasted the largest dance floor in the South. The club provided a musical jump-start for performers such as Isaac Hayes, Floyd Newman, and Willie Mitchell. The sign

honoring the historic club is located in the Pancho’s Mexican Restaurant parking lot (the original location of the Plantation Inn) at 3600 E. Broadway St. in West Memphis, Ark.

Geocaching Arkansas’s Great River Road: Day Two Day two we headed south. Following Ark. 1, we wound our way through the southern section of the Arkansas Delta, which doesn’t have the “roll” of the northern Delta since Crowley’s Ridge ends in Helena-West Helena. During this time of the year, the things you immediately notice are the crops. Agriculture is still the major economic stimulus in the Delta. Soybeans, milo, corn, cotton, and rice line the landscape of the region, which offers some of the most fertile soil in the country. With each passing mile, the crops became more and more beautiful. Our first stop was Turner Cemetery south of Marvell. The small country church cemetery is the final resting place of Lily Peter, who served as Arkansas’s poet laureate from 1971-91. Miss Lily, as she was known, was born near Marvell and spent most of her adult life in Phillips County. In addition to being a teacher, philanthropist, farmer, conservationist and musician, Peter wrote and published several works, including The Great Riding: The Summer 2010  Arkansas Wild | 17


ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS & TOURISM

Story of de Soto in America and The Green Linen of Summer. A geocache was placed near Miss Lily’s burial location in honor of her impact on the Arkansas Delta. The next stop was Dumas and Miller’s Mud Mill pottery shop, where we placed the next cache. Almost 30 years ago, Gail Miller decided to try pottery as a hobby. The hobby has become a business and Miller has built a reputation on her one-of-a-kind, wheel-turned pieces. When entering the shop, I was amazed at the colors of the different pieces, ranging from subtle and understated to brilliant and incandescent. Miller travels throughout the region to arts and crafts shows and her works are favored works by collectors far and wide. To see some of Miller’s work, visit www.MillersMudMill.com. We continued our trek south on U.S. 65 heading to McGehee. We had the ideal place for a geocache in the town’s lovely square. Obviously we weren’t the only ones that thought it would be the perfect location…there was already a cache making it’s home in the park (caches must be at least 528 feet away from each other). So we grabbed our GPS and headed on further downtown, finding another idyllic spot outside Periwinkle Place. 18 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010

The Southern Tenant Farmers Museum in Tyronza.

Periwinkle Place is located at 310 N. 2nd St. in McGehee’s downtown and offers a wonderful selection of gift ideas, ranging from decorative flags and outdoor decorations to luxurious bath items and candles to jewelry and holiday items. After a little shopping, it was time to head toward our last two destinations, Arkansas City and Rohwer. Arkansas City is located along the Mississippi River and has a history tied to the Big Muddy. Once a vibrant river town of over 10,000 residents, it was virtually destroyed during the Flood of 1927. Arkansas City is home to the John H. Johnson Museum. The inspirational story of John H. Johnson is one of my personal favorites. John Harold Johnson was born in Arkansas City on Jan. 19, 1918. Johnson did not have an easy childhood — his father died in a sawmill accident in 1924 and, during the Flood of 1927, Johnson and his mother had to live on the Mississippi River levee for six weeks before they were able to return home. In 1933, the Johnson family left Arkansas City and moved to Chicago, where he began to build an empire that would eventually include Jet and Ebony magazines. His story is one of determination. He was the first

African-American businessman to be named to the Forbes list of 400 wealthiest Americans. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by fellow Arkansan President Bill Clinton in 1996. He served as special ambassador for President Kennedy and President Johnson. He has been inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame, the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, the National Business Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame. In May 2005, the John H. Johnson Cultural and Educational Museum opened its doors in Arkansas City. The museum tells the story of Johnson’s life, from his childhood in Arkansas City to the beginning of his career in Chicago to his overwhelming success as the head of Johnson Publishing Company. Johnson died in Aug. 2005, less than three months after attending the dedication of the museum in Arkansas City. Over his amazing life, Johnson achieved overwhelming success. He was often quoted as saying, “Failure is a word I don’t accept.” The John H. Johnson Museum is open by appointment. For more information, contact the office of the Desha County Judge at 870-877-8486.


Arkansas City’s downtown area is home to several significant buildings and commemorative markers. The restored courthouse has become the shining gem of the historic community. The town offers a great variety of outdoor recreation activities, such as fishing, boating, hunting, and bird watching. Nearby Choctaw Island has been recognized by the Audubon Society as an “Important Birding Area.” Winding our way along Ark. 4 to Ark. 1, our next destination was Rohwer, the site of one of the two Japanese-American relocation camps located in the Arkansas Delta during World War II. The Rohwer Internment Camp was located in the town from 1941-45. The site has several commemorative markers dedicated to the internees who died in the camp and those who left the camp to fight oversees and gave the ultimate sacrifice. There is also a small cemetery. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. During the original geocaching project, a cache was placed at Jerome Internment Camp. Many people recorded log comments saying they were so glad to have been able to visit the location. It became evident early that we needed to bring people to Rohwer as well. The location is about a mile off Ark. 1. Visitors c omment that there is a calmness that surrounds the grounds. Each time I visit Rohwer, I realize that our freedom is definitely not free. After placing our 10th cache in two days, we headed our separate ways. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to leave the embracing arms of my beloved Arkansas Delta. I realized one very important thing on this trip: however well you think you know the Arkansas Delta, there’s always something new to find! So head on over, you’re always welcome! Since this trip, a new cache was placed in Eudora at the town’s beautiful park. This brings the number of caches in Arkansas for the 70th anniversary Great River Road Geocaching Project to 25. For more information on the ongoing geocaching event, visit www.experiencemississippiriver.com/ geocaching.cfm. 

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If You Could Have

ONLY ONE

What Would you Want to have in a survival situation? By Emily Griffin

Y

ou’re preparing for a trip into the great outdoors, filling your pack with tools, weapons, and necessities. But what would you do if you could have only one item to tote along? What would you

take? This question has been on my mind for quite some time. With the popularity of television shows like “Survivorman” and “Man vs. Wild,” it’s natural to ponder what you would need in a survival situation. I’m a member of a local hunting forum (arkansashunting.net) and I love reading about other outdoorsmen and women’s stories, from their latest excursions, what hot topics are being debated, and even a few off-color jokes from time to time. I decided to start a new thread. I asked forum members this: If you could only have one piece of

understand why so many say knives, but I’m too old and crippled to try and be a Rambo. Give me a .12 gauge pump. If I can’t find my way into a better situation before the ammo runs out I’ll pass on from natural causes.” After reading the responses, it was obvious that what every outdoor enthusiast should have with them is not a tool or weapon, but the knowledge of the situation and surrounding area. Let’s face it, most of us are not going to be in a small plane crash (and survive) deep in the heart of the Ozark National Forest, with only a pocket knife and a prayer, similar to the scenarios on Man vs. Wild. Being prepared, knowing where you are, which way is north, will get you home safely. Below are a few other things everyone should know before they find themselves in a survival situation.

Let’s face it, most of us are not going to be in a small plane crash (and survive) deep in the heart of the Ozark National Forest, with only a pocket knife and a prayer ... equipment, whether it’s one bow, gun, rod or reel, what would it be and why? What is the one thing you always have and will always take with you in the great outdoors? Some responded quickly with a simple reply, like member Polywog, who said, “my knife, without any hesitation. It’s a Buck 112.” This was a very popular response. Many felt that their knife could be used for multiple purposes (making snares, minor surgery, cleaning food, etc) making it a seemingly obvious choice. Others pondered the questions more seriously referring to survival situations. Member carverhill said, “I 20 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010

First, stay calm. If you find yourself in a survival situation panicking won’t do you any good. Assess the situation and debate your options before going any further. Use all your senses to evaluate the situation. Note sounds and smells. Be sensitive to temperature changes. Be observant. Knowing how to build a fire is the best survival skill you can have. Fire provides warmth, light, and comfort. Even if you do not have adequate clothing a good fire can allow you to survive in the coldest of environments. Fire keeps away the creatures that go bump in the night and so you can have the peace of mind and rest you need. And


Common sense and a few basic skills are what you need in a survival situation.

that is not all. Fire will cook your food and purify your water, both excellent attributes when you want to stay healthy when potential disease causing organisms are lurking about. Fire will dry your clothing and even aid in the making of tools and keeping pesky insects at bay. Fire and smoke can be used for signaling very long distances. Shelter protects your body from the outside elements. This includes heat, cold, rain, snow, the sun, and wind. It also protects you from insects and other creatures that seek to do you harm. A lean-to is the easiest form of shelter to construct, but shelters are only limited by your inventiveness and ingenuity. If the situation requires, your shelter can be insulated with whatever is at hand for the purpose. Before you are in need of making a survival shelter, be sure to practice and experiment with a variety of materials and survival scenarios on a regular basis. Should the need arise you will be glad you did. Whenever you plan an excursion be sure to bring extra food and water. It is important that you know how to ration your water and food as well as find more in the environment in which you find yourself. You can go without food for a number of days, but living without water for even a few days will cause your efficiency to drop dramatically. Boil any water you find in order to kill disease organisms that may be in even the cleanest looking water. Putting the simple things to practice beforehand is your best bet at staying alive in a survival situation. By practicing, you will know you can make it, and that is a good feeling. ď ˛

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Sweet, Cool, Free Cave City Watermelon Festival By Kat Robinson

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perfect little break in the summertime heat ... made better by a taste of heaven. That’s my impression of the Cave City Watermelon Festival, the big annual event celebrating the World’s Sweetest Watermelons the second weekend of August. I’ve gone many times. The first time, it was to try out those sweet watermelons on their own ground. I’ve returned again and again to enjoy the atmosphere; the laid-back late summer soiree in Cave City Park where folks take their time and all the watermelon you can eat is free. I actually toyed with the idea of skipping last year’s festival, worried that the heat would be too much for a (then) five-month pregnant chick to handle. But the night before the big event the heat broke, and instead of 100-plus degree temperatures in the shade the thermometer bobbed along in the 80s. When I arrived and parked, the car show was in full swing — teenagers who’d fixed up their family cars sharing the exhibit space with professionals and weekend garage monkeys. As I made my way toward the center of the park, I noticed children clambering over the playground as parents watched from a distance, chattering among themselves. Older gentlemen were sharing stories over the tractor display — some tractors out-aging even the octogenarians in the crowd. The wind kicked up a little, and there was an almost felt sigh from attendees who welcomed the movement. At the festival pavilion, attendees were handed a Dollar General bag that contained a couple of pens and a Mardi Gras beaded necklace with a big Cave City Watermelon Festival medallion. There was also a program, sharing what was coming up in the afternoon. The sacks, I came to find later, were for

d

22 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010


kat robinson

those watermelon rinds... a good idea, for sure. The crowd was starting to thin out a bit, as many of the festival-goers took off for lunch. Some headed on foot down to Sonic, a few blocks away and a major sponsor for the event. Others headed back to their cars to grab a bite of lunch from coolers and picnic baskets. And some brought money to eat on site. Several of the local churches were offering cheap eats — like the $2.75 burger at the Free Will Baptist Church stand. Drinks went for $1 for bottled water and 75 cents for soda. For the more adventurous, there were some true festival foods. One booth offered a plethora of fried foods — fried green tomatoes, fried pickles, ribbon fries, sweet potato fries, sour cream fries, deep fried Oreos, deep fried Twinkies, and Apple Dumplings — presumably also deep-fried. Another offered the almost impossible to conceive of combination of Reuben sandwiches and frog legs. There was also an Ozark Kettle Corn vendor and the inflatable ice cream stand. A steady stream of visitors passed by the wagon bearing the winners of the watermelon growing contests. Big, healthy, shiny melons of varying colors bore familiar names —Penn, Patterson, Wooldridge, Perkey. There are six families that continue the watermelon growing tradition around here, and it’s always a tight battle to see who can bring home the ribbons in any given year. I wandered on and checked out the stands. Vendors were selling jewelry, t-shirts, toys, sunglasses, bags — all sorts of

Prize-winning melons.

things. These were mostly small business people from the area. Up towards the gate at the northeast corner, members of the Cruisadors (a chapter of the Arkansas Baptist Bikers Association) were handing out water to the thirsty for free. Across the park, the fire department had sat up a dunking booth. The guy in the booth was trading jabs with a guy who hadn’t been able to sink him on six successive throws. A family came up, paid for their balls, and a young boy started his aim from the youngster’s line. He threw two balls in rapid succession — and down went the victim into the drink. He came up from the water laughing, apparently pleased at the dunking, and congratulated the young man. The crowd was growing under the trees, as families brought out their chairs and set up for the day. The Gaylon Sandefur Band broke into their popular song, “Chicken Truck on Highway 25.” That one drew quite a few chuckles. There aren’t really any bad seats out on the lawn — the park is set out well, with the bandstand placed on the edge of the natural bowl. The wind lolled through the crowd, bringing with it the ruffle of the air sock from the Sno-Cone concession, the scent of syrup and funnel cakes and fried onions, and the dull roar of a hundred different conversations. People would come out, set up their chairs and coolers, and then walk off — completely unconcerned about whether someone might come along and disturb their possessions. There’s a sense of trust that’s assumed and sacred at these small-town festivals, and I am thankful for it. Summer 2010  Arkansas Wild | 23


There was a pause in the music, as James Mack Street took the stage for the quilt raffle. As the quilt was brought out for display, the audio guy played a pre-recorded announcement, thanking the sponsors for the event. And they do deserve that thanks — unlike many other festivals, the Cave City Watermelon Festival is entirely free. The parking is free, the car show is free, the concerts and the contests and everything else — everything, that is, except the vendor’s wares — but that’s to be expected, these people have to make a living, after all. I decided to wander around and catch a little more of the action. And I noticed that the refrigerated truck had arrived. I wandered up and joined the small crowd of people who were trading comments with the guys and boys gathered at the back. Four o’clock was approaching, and the growers decided it was a good time

we’re talking about. The line moved steadily and swiftly, as people came up and grabbed their slice and went back to sit down and consume theirs. Some folks propped themselves up next to the nearby tractors to take in their share and be ready to come back for more. I gratefully took a crescent-shaped slice of the yellow melon and wandered back through the line on my way to my seat. A couple of the guys were joshing with a boy who was wandering back to the concert field with three giant slices all by himself. The band had even sat down to enjoy melon themselves. There was a strange calmness, a feeling of fraternity out there on the field — with the quiet sounds of munching and slurping and what-have-you. There were people sitting at pavilion tables carefully exhuming seeds with spoons, and a whole family munching and spitting the seeds a bit further down the way.

my fork behind my ear and going back for another slice. The back of the “rind truck” was already a third of the way full by the time I tossed in my contribution and headed back up to the line. I’d been about 120 yards back when I joined the line, but less than five minutes later I was back at the front, and I picked up another colossal slice before heading back to my seat. I watched the melon auction as I enjoyed the second slice. The top melon went for $250, while others went way over the $100 mark. All the money raised went to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. By this point, I was satisfied and rather saturated, too. The red melon I’d consumed as my second slice had not only been sweeter, it had been juicier, and my shorts were soaked with melon juice. It didn’t matter. The breeze joined the moisture to bathe me in Mother Nature’s air conditioning, and I was

I gratefully took a crescent-shaped slice of the yellow melon and wandered back through the line on my way to my seat. A couple of the guys were joshing with a boy who was wandering back to the concert field with three giant slices all by himself. The band had even sat down to enjoy melon themselves. There was a strange calmness, a feeling of fraternity out there on the field — with the quiet sounds of munching and slurping and what-have-you. to go ahead and open up. The crowd could feel the rush of cold air as the door was hauled open. Tables were set up in a “U” shape and accoutrements like plastic forks and table salt were set out. The line was already forming, people anticipating the cool bounty about to be laid out. But there was no real rush. People continued their conversations. Without much ado, one of the growers turned around and motioned at the boys who’d crawled up inside the truck. The boys started handing out melon after melon in a pass-line to the growers at the front. Three or four of them pulled out big clean knives and took to splitting the melons up quickly and efficiently in all sorts of sizes. There was a stir to one side, where the first of the yellow melons had been popped open. The sweet aroma of melon was pervasive, but not too strong — after all, this is watermelon 24 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010

Me? I’m a flicker. I sat down in my chair, put my slice on my lap, and used my fork to flick away the seeds on the outside. You can spot festival veterans — they’re the ones that bring wetted down washcloths in zip-top bags and paper bags for their laps. All this watermelon — and it’s a lot of watermelon, dozens and dozens of the best of the crop — is donated by the growers. All of it. Not a dime changes hands. They all work together, and get their selections up on the refrigerated truck. As far as I know, there’s never been a watermelon-less festival, and if it keeps up this way there never will be. Mr. Street got up on stage again to remind everyone to bring their rinds to the truck behind the bandstand and not throw them in the trashcans — since 55 gallon drums of melon rinds would be far too heavy for the sanitation folks to handle. I had eaten my melon down to the rind, and couldn’t resist tucking

feeling fine. I decided to take off shortly thereafter, having a two-hour drive to make back to Little Rock. As I wandered past the refrigerated truck one more time, I noticed a couple of the growers in deep conversation with others. One young man was asking 20 questions about how to grow melons, and how to make them sweet. I overheard the response — “it ain’t hard if you live up here.” The tables and the ground beneath were strewn with seeds and a few wayward slices that had slipped from grasp. Further on, the playground was full of happy, sticky children, playing under overcast skies. If you find yourself with a couple of free hours this weekend, it would do you good to head up to Cave City. Pick yourself up a couple of melons — take one home, take one to your friends to share. But don’t wait too long — watermelon season doesn’t last forever. 


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OF BIRDS

The Purple Martins of Bird Island By Mary Smith & Dan Scheiman Education Director & Bird Conservation Director Audubon Arkansas


I

During late summer, after nesting, Purple Martins leave their bird houses and gather in large numbers at staging areas before flying south to winter in South America. Bird Island is one such staging area in Arkansas. The birds arrive at Bird Island around the third week of July and leave around the fourth week of August. They convene in the trees at the north end of the narrow island in an area not much bigger than a classroom. Herons and egrets roost and nest at the southern end. During the day, Purple Martins feed across the landscape, fattening up for migration. Each evening, however, the martins head to the island in droves from all directions. For over an hour before sunset they swirl in the sky like a loose tornado, their numbers swelling as more and more birds arrive in a steady stream. When the time comes to roost, they descend into the trees, crammed wing-towing, their weight pulling down the branches. There in the trees, surrounded by water, they are safe from predators. When morning comes, the birds depart en masse, heading out in all directions to feed again. The morning mass of departing birds is so large and dense that it shows up on Nexrad Radar as a giant, exploding donut. It was this radar display that caught the attention of Audubon Arkansas and led to a special partnership with the Mountain Pine High School Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) program. After seeing the radar images, learning about the presence of a massive martin roost, and wondering

FRED GARCIA

n the middle of Lake Ouachita there is a small island that has a big impact on birds. At less than a tenth of an acre, Bird Island appears to be not much more than a strip of bald cypress, but that is more than enough space for tens of thousands of migrating Purple Martins to roost on each year.

about its significance, Audubon turned to Mountain Pine High School, nestled along the lake. In the summers of 2008 and 2009, Audubon worked with students of the Mountain Pine EAST program to formally document the roost, which is thought to have existed for the last 20 years. Under the leadership of EAST facilitator Michael Vincent, students Wyatt Caldwell and Eli Smith coordinated a team of classmates and community volunteers Summer 2010  Arkansas Wild | 27


FRED GARCIA

SAMANTHA HOLSCHBACH 28 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010

who counted birds, filmed the phenomenon, and developed an awardwinning documentary film. Counting the birds, however, was not easy. Getting even a ballpark figure was complicated by the sheer numbers, the constant influx and movement of birds over the course of the evening, tree cover, and fading light, not to mention the logistical difficulties associated with boating kids and their equipment around the lake at sunset. Students experimented with several techniques, including photographing the sky through a fisheye lens and later counting all the dots (birds) in the photo, or counting all the birds on a branch and then multiplying by the number of branches and trees. In the end the roost is thought to support 20,000 to 50,000 birds! This range is sufficient to designate Bird Island as an official Important Bird


Area (IBA). The IBA network is a global program founded by BirdLife International. The National Audubon Society oversees the program in the U.S. The IBA program recognizes sites that are important for bird conservation because they consistently harbor significant numbers of birds of conservation concern or birds that congregate in large numbers, like migrating Purple Martins. In March 2010, Audubon recognized Bird Island as Arkansas’s 29th IBA. It is the smallest IBA in the state, but is no less important for Arkansas’s birds. Students hope their effort will help protect the site and encourage more nature tourism in their area. Publicizing this natural phenomenon could bring more visitors to an area that depends on tourist dollars. At the same time, safeguards need to be put in place to prevent people from intentionally or unintentionally harassing the birds by approaching too close, landing on the island, or honking boat horns. “We just want to keep this safe for our children and our children’s children,” Smith said. Other project partners such as the Army Corp of Engineers, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas Department of Parks and

Tourism, and Purple Martin Conservation Association are aware of the issues and considering appropriate measures. IBA designation is only the beginning for the EAST students. They now plan to attach geolocators to the birds to track their migration to Brazil, and to find South American partners to help monitor

the birds. The Mountain Pine Students have amazed everyone with their hard work, persistence, and vision. “We’ve discovered that our science and our actions impact our community and impact the future,” said Vincent. “Our school is small, our community poor, but we stand above other schools because of our project.” 

ex pe ri e n c e

the wild

From the thrill of wildlife watching encounters to the rush of adrenaline pumping extreme adventure, go wild at an Arkansas state park. Charge the Class IV rapids at Cossatot River. Hang glide at Mount Nebo. Rock climb at Mount Magazine. Experience your wild side in the State Parks of Arkansas, The Natural State.

UP Close: The Purple Martin Homeowners across the country welcome the return of Purple Martins in the spring and enjoy their company as they swoop and feed in yards and fields. Their iridescent feathers and graceful flight endear them to fans who also prize their insect-eating prowess. Contrary to popular belief, the martin diet does not include mosquitoes. They eat dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, katydids, mayflies, cicadas, beetles, flies, wasps, midges, and flying ants. Purple Martins and people have long been partners. Before European settlement, Native Americans put up gourds for the birds. Today, martins largely depend on people to provide a place to nest. In fact, the sale of martin houses is a $25 million industry. Martins are threatened by non-native European Starlings and House Sparrows that usurp martins by puncturing eggs and throwing out nestlings. If you have a martin house, be sure to keep it closed until martins arrive and evict starlings and sparrows that try to take it over. See http://purplemartin.org for more information.

Millwood Lake > Check out our 52 Arkansas State Parks today.

888-AT-PARKS • ArkansasStateParks.com


Cave Spelunking Beauty and excitement await cavers underground

30 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010

By Emily Griffin

F

or centuries people have been descending underground to explore caves. Exotic formations, streams and waterfalls, tight crawlways, deep canyons and pits, huge rooms with large blocks of breakdown, crickets, bats and cave rats await the cave explorer. Many have visited the popular touristy caves around the state. Blanchard Springs Caverns, Mystic Caverns, Bull Shoals Caverns, and more have introduced people to the beauty underground, colorfully illuminated to showcase the monstrous stalactites and stalagmites. However, some decide to visit Arkansas’ caves in a less organized fashion. These people are known as cave spelunkers and cavers. Caving can be a strenuous sport, a casual hobby, a means to conducting scientific research, or all of these and more. Caves are found around the world and in a variety of settings, from cold alpine environments to warm tropical rain forests, and are formed through a variety of natural processes. The challenges of caving depend on the cave being visited, but often include the negotiation of pitches, squeezes, and water. Climbing or crawling is often necessary, and ropes are used extensively for safe negotiation of particularly steep or slippery passages.


Basic Safety Information There are several versions of cave safety guidelines. Having adequate training and reliable equipment are the main points in each one. Safe use of equipment can be achieved only by sharing information, teaching and demonstrations. Chances of being injured are reduced by awareness of dangers and by knowledge of your equipment and techniques. Statistically, caving accidents are mostly attributed to poor judgment, little or no caving experience and falls. The most common causes of caving accidents include: falling, being struck by falling objects and hypothermia. As you plan to go on a cave trip, there are several things you should include in your pre-trip planning. Proper preparation will help you have a safe trip and will give some amount of protection against the many dangers of being underground. The mere fact that you are interested in caving implies that you are probably comfortable with some level of risk and are somewhat comfortable with the

unknown. These are good things, but a person preparing for a cave trip considers the risks, tries to anticipate the problems and thinks about the unknowns. No one wants to have a problem while we are underground, but we should never go into the cave without at least taking a few minutes to think about the things that can go wrong on our trip.

NEVER Cave Alone This is dangerous, fool hardy and is a sure recipe for a disaster. The smallest size group recommend is four people. With this number, if someone is hurt, one person can stay and comfort the injured and the other two can get help.

Falling To reduce the risk of falling, one should avoid jumping and uncontrolled sliding down slopes, wear proper footwear, check and discard any faulty or worn vertical equipment and obtain proper training. When caving, you should always try to have three points of contact when moving over uneven ground. This means having three points

f av i N a ai NC L a iN bL g e

Physical or biological science is also an important goal for some cavers. Virgin cave systems comprise some of the last unexplored regions on Earth and much effort is put into trying to locate and enter them. Caves have been explored out of necessity (for shelter from the elements or from enemies), out of curiosity or for mystical reasons for thousands of years. However, only in the last century or two has the activity developed into a sophisticated, athletic pastime. Caving is not an activity to try on a whim. Many things must be considered before heading underground. Special equipment should be worn not only for the safety of the explorer but also for those things being explored. Necessary equipment includes hard hat with afixed light source, two additional sources of light (one to carry and one for backup), layered clothing (warm under layer and water-resistant outer layer), sturdy boots (hiking style), knee and elbow pads, ropes for descending or ascending pitches, and a first-aid kit.

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on your body supported on immovable objects to stabilize your body while moving through difficult areas.

First-time Cavers There are several things that should be discussed with people who have never been underground before. Discussing the following points with them will help them be mentally prepared, safer and have a better experience. • Three points of contact should be exhibited when moving over uneven ground. This means having three points on your body supported on immovable objects. Whether it is your left foot, right shoulder and knee; your left elbow, head and right hip; or your Cavers should always wear proper equipment, like a right hand, bottom and back. helmet, while exploring caves. • The group needs to stay together. The only reasons not to have people stay together will involve Tell Someone Your Plans either someone with an injury or an Establish a time to be out of the cave emergency. and a contact person who knows this in• Do not exert yourself beyond the formation. Notify a reliable person about limits of your endurance and never do your caving plans, including the name, anything that you are not comfortable the location of the cave you are visiting with. Remember, discretion is the better and your estimated time of return. Agree part of valor. If anyone should have any on what to do if you do not return on questions or anxieties, he or she should time. He or she should understand that make their concerns known. It is a team they will be the person to call for help if effort when underground. you have not checked in with them after • Do not leave trash behind, pick the trip should have ended. If you exit up others’ trash, do not vandalize and the cave after your estimated exit time do not take souvenirs. Everyone should contact this person as soon as possible know the importance of cave conservato prevent an unnecessary rescue. tion on the trip. The caver’s motto: Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but Alertness and Challenges footprints, kill nothing but time. When caving it is important to • Have an emergency plan and remain clear headed. Drugs, including discuss what will be done if something alcohol, that affect your alertness, judggoes wrong. Everyone should know to ment or ability to think clearly make wait for instructions from the trip leader, you a threat to your group’s safety. unless he or she is in a life-threatening Everyone going on the trip should situation. They need to understand that be physically and mentally ready for the the trip leader makes the decisions in challenges that will be associated with case of an emergency. the trip. He or she will also need to have the skills required for the kind of cave. For example, does someone have a Responsibility Caving responsibly involves planning limiting medical condition? Is someone claustrophobic and you are going on a a trip, moving through the cave safely tight trip? Will everyone on a vertical and returning on time. You and your trip understand on-rope techniques like partners are responsible for protecting a change over? The bottom line is, if yourselves and the caves you visit. 32 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010

you think that you or someone else on the trip is not up to challenges that you will be encountering, it is far better to bring it up before a serious problem arises inside the cave.

Hazards A novice’s apprehension before a caving trip is healthy and an awareness of possible hazards helps you avoid them. Here are some of the dangers of caving. • Getting lost • Running out of light • Hypothermia • Passages flooding • Falling rocks • Poor footing, falling • Falling down pits

Vertical Caving Vertical caving — using ropes to descend and ascend pits — involves special skills and special equipment. Vertical caving techniques and gear greatly differ from those used by rock climbers. Seek vertical caving training from a competent instructor before doing rope work in a cave. Avoid using unknown ropes, slings and ladders you encounter underground. Free-climbing a rope hand-over-hand is not recommended as it is highly unsafe.

Cave Diving Cave diving is the most advanced kind of specialized caving as far as equipment, safety and techniques are concerned. Open water certification does not equip you with the proper knowledge to successfully stay alive during cave diving. Levels of proper training must be obtained before attempting caving under water. To help get you started, consider joining a grotto club, local groups of cavers who share trip reports and also plan caving trips. Going on your first caving adventure with some experienced cavers would be wise. They can share tips and information they have learned. For more information on caving or grotto clubs visit the National Speleogical Society’s Web site: www. caves.org. 


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hawksbill Crag

Beauty of Summer The PhoTograPhy of

a.C. “ChuCk” haralson

W

e travel from Point A to Point B constantly every day. We see the wildflowers that decorate Arkansas’ roadsides but we rarely take the time to stop and enjoy them. A.C. “Chuck” Haralson, Chief Photographer for the Arkansas State Parks and Tourism Department,

seeks out the beauty that summers in Arkansas have to offer and we have become familiar with many popular destinations through viewing his work. While he’s sent on assignment photographing festivals, attractions and more, Haralson also seeks out beauty in the simplest forms creating the timeless images we all love. On the following pages, Arkansas Wild presents Haralson’s photography—simply and beautifully.

sunflowers in The delTa 34 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010

Twin falls in jasPer


r

north little rock farmer's market sailing on lake maumelle

purple coneflowers at lake fort smith state park Summer 2010  Arkansas Wild | 35


fireworks on the arkansas river cotton field in east arkansas

banded water snake at kings river 36 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010


helena bridge Summer 2010  Arkansas Wild | 37


A.C. "CHUCK" HARALSON

CALENDAR O

Enjoy sunset lake tours on Lake Ouachita throughout the summer. Summer Programming may 29-SePt. 7: Located at Lake Ouachita State Park, park interpreters offer daily programming for guests of all ages, including lake tours, kayak outings, nature games, slide shows, guided hikes, outdoor skills demonstrations, recreation activities, and more. Schedules with exact times are published about one week ahead of time or you may visit the website for updates: www.arkansasstateparks.com/ lakeouachita. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. geocaching 101 WorkShoP July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, and aug. 5, 12: What is geocaching? It is a fun, family-friendly scavenger hunt game using GPS (global positioning system) units. We will embark on a journey to discover hidden “caches” throughout the Lake Ouachita State Park with only the coordinates of their locations to guide you. Wear sturdy shoes and bring drinking water. Event Times: 11 a.m. to noon. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. PurPle martin Watch lake tour July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; aug. 5, 12, 21, 28; and SePt. 5: For years, people have enjoyed the graceful flights, social antics, gurgling songs, and insect-eating habits of the purple martin. Lake Ouachita provides remarkable habitat for migrating purple martins. From June through August you can aboard a tour boat at Lake Ouachita State Park, and venture out to Bird Island to see these magnificent birds. Make your reservations and purchase tickets at the visitor center and meet at the marina. Admission: $9 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12. Event Times: 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. gloWing SkullS July 1, 16, 30; aug. 13, 27: Go on a quest to find these glowing skulls and learn what exactly they are. One never knows what to expect on this easy 1-mile trail. Bring your flashlights and your daring, inquisitive minds for this 38 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010

one-of-a-kind quest, located at Lake Ouachita State Park. Admission: FREE. Hunting Times: 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@ arkansas.com. BioBlitz July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; aug. 6, 13, 20, 27; SePt. 3, 10, 17, 24: Located at Lake Ouachita State Park: BioBlitz is a unique opportunity for scientists, students, and the public to experience the vast array of species (biodiversity) living in the park. Join a team of volunteer scientists, park interpreters, and other community members and work together to find and identify as many species of plants, animals, microbes, fungi, and other organisms as possible. BioBlitz creates awareness and appreciation of biodiversity in our region and beyond. Admission is FREE. Feature Times: 10 a.m. to noon. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@ arkansas.com. animal trackS July 2, 30; aug. 27: Signs of wildlife are all around at Lake Ouachita State Park. Track over to the visitor center picnic area to learn more about their footprints. Then you can make your own animal track project to take home. Admission is FREE. Event Times: 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. Scavenger hunt July 3, 17, 31; aug. 28: What stuff do you bring camping? It may be on the list. Meet a park interpreter at the Lake Ouachita State Park visitor center to get your list of items to hunt. The team with the most points wins. Scavenger hunting Times: 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. rotten Place to live July 4, 18; aug. 1: A dead tree is still alive with life. It’s amazing how many things live in and on rotting logs. Meet a park interpreter at Lake Ouachita State Park to learn more

about decomposers and their importance in nature. Admission is FREE. Event Times: 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. Scenic lake tour July 5, 19; aug. 2: Lake Ouachita’s immense size, pristine shoreline, and numerous islands provide beauty and scenery that can be found nowhere else in the state. Enjoy a lake tour aboard our covered tour boat. A park interpreter will be your pilot and guide as you explore the history, geology, and wildlife found along the shore. Space is limited. Make reservations at the visitor center and meet at the marina. Event Times: 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, and $5 for children ages 6-12. For more information call 501767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. camPfire fun July 5, 19; aug. 2: If you have a great story to share, game to play or are just looking for a way to enjoy the outdoors, then join us at the Lake Ouachita State Park visitor center picnic area. Event Time: 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is FREE. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. conStellation lanternS July 6, 20: Join a park interpreter at the Lake Ouachita State Park picnic area to make a camping lantern that is both fun and educational. Your tea light lantern with constellations will be a hit at your campsite as night falls. Show everyone how much you know about the night sky. Supplies are limited. Event Times: 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is FREE. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@ arkansas.com. a guide to fiShing July 6, 13, 20, 27; aug. 3, 10: Don’t miss an opportunity to talk all things fishing with Larry Hurley, professional fishing guide and host of the television show, “Another Day Fishing.” Larry shares information on fishing in


R OF EVENTS Arkansas with special emphasis on fishing in Lake Ouachita. Located at Lake Ouachita State Park in the air-conditioned visitor center, this is your chance to hear Larry’s proven fishing tips and techniques. Admission is FREE. Program Times: 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com.

Starlight lake tour July 6, 13, 20, 27; aug. 3, 10: Join a park interpreter aboard our tour boat to explore the night sky over Lake Ouachita. Make reservations and purchase tickets at the visitor center. Admission is $5.Tour Times: 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@ arkansas.com.

Scenic lake tour July 10, 12, 17, 24: Lake Ouachita’s immense size, pristine shoreline, and numerous islands provide beauty and scenery that can be found nowhere else in the state. Enjoy a lake tour aboard our covered tour boat. A park interpreter will be your pilot and guide as you explore the history, geology, and wildlife found along the shore. Space is limited. Make reservations at the visitor center and meet at the marina. Admission is $9 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12. Feature Times: 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com.

SunSet kayaking July 7, 14, 21, 28; aug. 4, 11: Experience a Lake Ouachita sunset by kayak. This leisurely paddle will take us along the shoreline and into nearby coves. Beginner paddlers are welcome and will be introduced to basic kayak instruction. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Space is limited, so make reservations at the visitor center and meet at the marina boat ramp. Float Times: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 12 and under. Children ages 12 and under must ride tandem with an adult. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. Build a Bird July 9, 23; aug. 6, 20; Sept. 3: Would you like to make an owl? How about a woodpecker, cardinal, or tufted titmouse? Pick a bird and get to work. Meet a park interpreter at the Lake Ouachita State Park visitor center picnic area to build your own bird. This activity provides a great way for families to create special state park memories. Event Times: 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Admission is FREE. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. night hike and owl prowl July 9, 23; aug. 6, 20; Sept. 3: Many animals are nocturnal, so how do they adapt to their dark surroundings? Creep into the night forest under the watchful eyes of a Lake Ouachita State Park interpreter as we search for wildlife along the trail. “Who” knows? We might even be able to call up an owl. Sturdy shoes are recommended. Event Times: 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is FREE. For more information call 501-7679366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. SunSet lake tour July 10, 12, 17, 24, 26, 31; aug. 7, 14; Sept. 4: Relax and enjoy the sunset on Lake Ouachita while a park interpreter shares information about the history, geology, and wildlife found along the lakeshore. Space on the tour boat is limited. Make reservations at the visitor center and meet at the marina. Admission is $9 for adults; $4 for children ages 6-12, and children under 6 get in FREE. Feature Times: 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. kayak koving July 10, 18, 24; Sept. 4: Kayaking gives you the opportunity to experience Lake Ouachita in a unique way. Firsttime and beginner paddlers are welcome to this relaxing tour of nearby coves. Kids 12 and under must ride tandem with an adult. Kids under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Make reservations at the visitor center and meet at the marina boat ramp. Admission is $10 for adults; $5 for children ages 6-12 and children under 6 get in FREE. Feature Times: 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. Snake Feeding July 10, 24; aug. 7, 21; Sept. 4: Observing how snakes catch and eat their food is an exciting way for visitors to learn about them. Join the Lake Ouachita State Park interpreter as the snakes on display at the visitor center are fed. Admission is FREE. Feature Times: 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com.

hidden items on the trail? Test your skill to see how camouflage works with a Lake Ouachita State Park interpreter at the amphitheater. Event Times: 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Admission is FREE. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@akansas.com. your noSe knowS July 16; aug. 13: Smell is a very important sense for many mammals. How good is your sense of smell? In this activity, use your nose to determine which animal you are given. Meet a Lake Ouachita State Park interpreter for this fun program. Event Times: 2p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Admission is FREE. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@ arkansas.com. “BugS, SlugS, and more!” weekend July 17-18: If the first thing that comes to mind is SLIME, then we have just the program for you. Hopefully by the end of the weekend, you will come to enjoy and appreciate Arkansas’s creepy crawlies a little bit more. During this weekend’s programs, we will highlight all the great aspects about these misunderstood creatures. We will offer talks, crafts, and hikes. Admission is FREE. Contact Lake Catherine State Park for a schedule and more information at 501-844-4176 or e-mail lakecathrine@arkansas.com.

Snorkeling July 11, 25; aug. 8; Sept. 5: Experience the lake at Lake Ouachita State Park in a whole new way: underwater. Hop on the boat for a snorkeling trip to a nearby shoreline. Make reservations at the visitor center and meet at the marina. Space is limited. Snorkels and masks are provided or you may purchase a snorkel for $2. Event Times: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for children. For more information call 501767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. wet walk July 11, 25; aug. 8; Sept. 5: Ever wonder what lives along the shoreline of Lake Ouachita? Wear your wading shoes and be prepared to get wet while we explore the insects that live in Lake Ouachita. Event Times: 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is FREE. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. SunSet Stroll July 12: Meet a park interpreter at the Caddo Bend Trailhead in Lake Ouachita State Park take a hike to the Point 50 overlook and watch the sunset from one of the most spectacular locations in the park. Bring a flashlight, water, and good walking shoes. Event Times: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is FREE. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. kayak raceS July 12, 28; aug. 28; Sept. 6: We’ll supply the kayaks and you supply the power at Lake Ouachita State Park. Join your fellow campers and a park interpreter for a friendly race this afternoon. Meet at the marina. Admission is FREE. Race Times: 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. heritage diScovery camp July 14 – 16: This three-day camp for kids ages 6-12 explores our local heritage by learning about the people who first settled here. Registration includes meals and supplies. Contact Lake Dardanelle State Park for more information, admission price, and details by calling, 479-967-5516, or e-mail lakedardanelle@arkansas.com. unnatural nature July 15: Some animals use camouflage to disguise themselves from predators. Do you think you could spot the

archeology laB day July 21: Located at Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park: Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of an archeologist is like? Here is your chance to find out. Anyone over age 12 is invited to attend this 1-day free event. Activities will include washing and numbering artifacts found in central Arkansas. The archeologist at Toltec, Dr. Jane Anne Blakney-Bailey, will be on hand to offer assistance and answer questions. Reservations are required as space is limited. Admission is FREE. Event Times: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. For more information call 501-961-9442 or e-mail toltecmounds@arkansas.com. adventure overnight camp July 21-24: Located at Pinnacle Mountain State Park: Adventure Camp is a 4-day, 3-night camp designed for youth ages 11-13 who enjoy the outdoors and being active. Park staff lead fun and meaningful hands-on activities to introduce campers to the wonders of our natural world. Our outdoor laboratory allows us to explore forests, streams, ponds, mountains, and meadows while having fun. Advance payment required. Admission is $150 per camper. For more information call 501-868-5806 or e-mail pinnaclemountain@arkansas. com. hooray For herpS! weekend July 23-25: Spend the weekend at Pinnacle Mountain State Park learning about this group of very misunderstood animals. Join park interpreters for hikes, crafts, games, and other programs about Arkansas’s native reptiles and amphibians, including opportunities to meet live animals up-close. Contact the park for a detailed program schedule and for the cost of admission at 501-868-5806 or e-mail pinnaclemountain@ arkansas.com. Full moon cruiSe July 27; Sept. 24, 25: Enjoy the romantic and relaxing moonlit boat ride on DeGray Lake. Seating is limited and cruises may be cancelled due to inclement weather. Tickets go on sale at the marina at noon the day before the cruise. Event Times: 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Admission is $8.50 for adults, $4.50 for children 6-12, and children under 6 get in FREE. For reservations and more information call 501-865-5810 or e-mail degraylakeresort@arkansas.com. ruBy throatS & Silver BandS July 31: Located at Pinnacle Mountain State Park: What are those fast-moving birds the size of big bugs? Join us as we explore the world of hummingbirds and see hummingbirds banded (for research) and released. This is a great activity for families to connect with nature and participate in real handson scientific study. Admission is FREE. Event Times: 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. For more information call 501-868-5806 or e-mail pinnaclemountain@arkansas.com. Summer 2010  Arkansas Wild | 39


artifact i.d. day aug. 21: Solve a mystery! Have you ever wanted to know more about those “arrowheads” and pottery pieces that you found as a kid? Bring them to the park to let our resident archeologist take a look at them. Bring up to 5 artifacts to be reviewed. No appraisals. Meet at the Toltec Mounds’s visitor center. Event time: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. For more information call 501-961-9442 or e-mail toltecmound@arkansas.com.

Learn about Arkansas's largest arachnid, the tarantula, at Lake Ouachita's amphitheater on Sept. 5

east arkansas chapter ducks unlimited Banquet aug. 21: The banquet will be held at the Southland Park in West Memphis. For more information visit www.agfc.com or contact Jason Rodgers at 870-225-6642. 17th annual end of summer hang glider fly-in aug. 21 and 22: Join the Central Arkansas Mountain Pilots (C.A.M.P.) at Mount Nebo’s Sunrise Point to watch and learn as they hang glide throughout the weekend. Due to the sport’s high dependence on weather conditions, no times will be announced for the flying, however, weather and wind permitting, the pilots will fly throughout Saturday and Sunday beginning in the afternoon. Spectators are welcome to come and go. Bring a blanket or lawn chairs and a picnic and make a day of it. For more information call 479-229-3655 or e-mail mountnebo@arkansas.com. geology Weekend aug. 21 and 22: Pinnacle Mountain didn’t pop up from the earth in one night. Join park interpreters for a geological journey throughout the park with programs describing the park’s rocks and geological history. Contact the park for a detailed program schedule 501-868-5806 or e-mail pinnaclemountain@arkansas.com. full moon kayak tour aug. 21; sept. 25: See Lake Catherine in a whole new way: Enjoy a peaceful moonlit kayak tour of the lake, and make memories that will last a lifetime. Fee includes use of kayak, paddle, and lifejacket. Spaces are very limited. Pre-register and prepay at the visitor center. Admission is $15. Feature Times: 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. For more information call 501-844-4176 or e-mail lakecatherine@arkansas.com.

Who Wants to Be an ornithologist? July 31: Located at Lake Ouachita State Park: How well do you know the area birds? Here’s your chance to get in the “hot seat” for this fun and interactive game. Contestants are chosen from the audience and compete for prizes by answering questions about birds. Don’t worry, you do get lifelines. Admission is FREE. Event Times: 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@ arkansas.com. scenic lake tour July 31: Lake Ouachita’s immense size, pristine shoreline, and numerous islands provide beauty and scenery that can be found nowhere else in the state. Enjoy a lake tour aboard our covered tour boat. A park interpreter will be your pilot and guide as you explore the history, geology, and wildlife found along the shore. Space is limited. Make reservations at the visitor center and meet at the marina. Admission is $9 for adults, and $5 for children 6-12. Event Times: 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@ arkansas.com. kayak koving aug. 1: Kayaking gives you the opportunity to experience Lake Ouachita in a unique way. First-time and beginner paddlers are welcome on this relaxing tour of nearby coves. Kids 12 and under must ride tandem with an adult. Kids under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Make reservations at the Lake Ouachita State Park visitor center and meet at the marina boat ramp. Event Times: 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12, and children under 6 get in FREE. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakelouachita@arkansas.com. animals of arkansas camp aug. 4, 5, and 6: This three day camp for kids ages 8-12 years explores the lives of many different animals to see how their unique characteristics help them survive. Registration includes meals and supplies. Camp will be held at Lake 40 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010

Dardanelle State Park. Event time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information call 479-967-5516 or e-mail lakedardanelle@ arkansas.com. volunteer Work day aug. 7: Pitch in at Pinnacle Mountain State Park to help clean up and beautify the park. We’ll meet at the visitor center at 9 a.m. and work until noon. A variety of work needs to be done, so people of all ages and skill levels are invited to volunteer. Contact the volunteer coordinator for more information at 501868-5806 or e-mail pinnaclemountain@arkansas.com. star-gazing cruise aug. 8: View the stars while we cruise aboard our tour boat on Lake Maumelle near Pinnacle Mountain State Park. A park interpreter is our pilot and guide to discovering stars, constellations, and satellites in the sky. Event time: 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Advance payment required. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12 years. For more information call 501-868-5806 or e-mail pinnaclemountain@arkansas.com. unnatural nature aug. 12: Some animals use camouflage to disguise themselves from predators. Do you think you could spot the hidden items on the trial? Test your skill to see how camouflage works with a park interpreter at the amphitheater. Meet at Lake Ouachita State Park Amphitheater. Event time: 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. For more information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. meteor shoWer mania aug. 12, 13, 14: View shooting stars from a boat in the middle of Lake Maumelle. Join a park interpreter on this guided cruise to learn about stars and constellations; then watch a slice of the annual Perseid meteor shower (weather and clouds permitting). Advance payment of $10 is required for adults and $5 for children 6 -12 years. Meet at the Jolly Roger’s Marina. Event time: 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. For more information call 501868-5806 or e-mail pinnaclemountain@arkansas.com.

spring turkey season puBlic meetings august 24: Meeting Time: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the following locations: Little Rock AGFC Office, 2 Natural Resources Drive (800-364-4263); Mountain Home, Dyer Hall, 1600 S. College St. (877-297-4331); Fort Smith, Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center, 8300 Wells Lake Rd. (877-478-1043); Jonesboro, Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center, 600 E. Lawson Rd. (877-972-5438); Pine Bluff Gov. Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center, 1400 Black Dog Rd. (877-3673559); and Camden, Fairview High School Auditorium, 1750 Cash Rd. (877-836-4612). guided canoe tour aug. 28: Join a park interpreter at the park visitor center for an introduction to canoeing. We’ll explore Mound Pond, used by the Plum Bayou Culture that lived here over 1,000 years ago. Learn how Native Americans use the plants and animals that make Mound Pond their home. No prior canoeing experience is necessary, but you should be comfortable around water. Families welcome. Space is limited and reservations are required. Admission is $7.50 for adults and $5 for children. Event time: 10 a.m. to noon. For more information call the Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park at 501-961-9442 or e-mail toltecmounds@arkansas.com. tarantulas sept. 4: Tarantulas are the largest spiders native to Arkansas. Discover these amazing arachnids at Lake Ouachita’s amphitheater. You might get the chance to see a live tarantula too! Event time: 9 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. For information call 501-767-9366 or e-mail lakeouachita@arkansas.com. sunset canoe float sept. 4 and 5: Enjoy a relaxing journey as we paddle our way into the last of this year’s summer sunsets. Guided by a park interpreter, the float is an excellent opportunity to explore the lowlands of Pinnacle Mountain State Park by canoe. Advance payment is required. Admission is $35 per canoe. Meeting place: Big Maumelle Boat Launch. Event time: 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. For more information call 501-868-5806 or e-mail pinnaclemountain@ arkansas.com.


Big MauMelle Canoe Float Sept. 6: Paddle your way through Pinnacle Mountain State Park’s majestic lowland river white viewing large cypress trees and a variety of wildlife. This tour is guided by a park interpreter. Advance payment is required. Admission is $30 per canoe. Event time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information call 501-868-5806 or e-mail pinnalcemountain@arkansas.com. Hook, line, & Sinker FiSHing DerBy Sept. 11: Celebrate National Public Lands Day a little early with a free fishing derby. Golf Course Pond #7 will be stocked with hundreds of catfish for you to reel in. There are no age restrictions on the fishing but participants age 16 and over must have a valid AR fishing license (available for sale at our marina). Bring lawn chairs, drinking water, and your own bait and tackle. One fishing pole per person. Co-sponsored by Southern Bancorp and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Event time: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. For more information call DeGray Lake Resort State Park at 501-8655810 or e-mail degraylakeresort@arkansas.com. annual antique traCtor anD engine SHow Sept. 11: Be transported back to a time when tractors had steel wheels and gasoline engines powered the family washing machine. The air will be filled with the pops, bangs, and clangs of stationary gasoline engines, two-cylinder tractors, and antique farm implements. Antique tractor and engine enthusiasts will be on hand to talk about their equipment and answer questions. There will be activities throughout the day and a tractor parade at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Anyone with a pre-1960 tractor or engine is invited to join; no fees, just fun. Spectators welcome. Admission is free for outdoor event, but fees do apply for the Museum. Event time: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call the Plantation Agriculture Museum 501-961-1409 or e-mail plantationagrimuseum@arkansas.com. 13tH annual Fall Swap Meet Sept. 22-25: This annual swap meet is hosted by the Museum of Automobiles on Petit Jean Mountain. Classic and vintage vehicles from all over the region will be on display. For more information call 501-727-5441 or e-mail petitjean@arkansas.com. HiStoriC HunterS’ enCaMpMent Sept. 25: In 1820 the Arkansas River valley was wild and relatively unexplored. Native Americans, hunters, soldiers, and explorers were the first to visit the area. Walk down a historic wagon road to find an encampment of living historians demonstrating firearms, clothing, cooking, camping equipment, and survival skills as they really rough it. This is a fun way for families to explore the park together and make memories that connect nature and history. Event time: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information call Mount Magazine State Park at 479-963-8502 or e-mail mountmagazine@arkansas.com.

Winner of the prestigious international Priority Club Rewards Award based on guest voting.

great arkanSaS Cleanup Sept. 25: Help keep the Petit Jean State Park clean and litter-free! Join us for a few hours of litter pickup and be rewarded with a free cookout lunch. Following lunch there will be a prize giveaway sponsored by area supporters. Groups, please call ahead so we can have adequate supplies for you. For more information call 501-727-5441 or e-mail petitjean@arkansas.com. arkanSaS FiDDle CHaMpionSHip Sept. 25 anD 26: See and hear the best fiddlers compete for bragging rights in Senior, Junior, and Open Divisions. Contests start in the afternoon and run until the evening show time. Fiddle judges will be our special performing guests on the show each night. Admission: Regular Music Admission Fee. Contact the Ozark Folk Center State Park for more information at 870-269-3851 or e-mail ozarkfolkcenter@ arkansas.com. geoCaCHe event Sept. 25 anD 26: Learn about Arkansas State Park’s statewide geocache tour and geocaches in this park. Programs will introduce geocaching to participants who are interested, but don’t know where to start. The weekend long event will also include a special geocache hunt. Event time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Contact the park for a schedule and more details at 501868-5806 or e-mail pinnaclemountain@arkansas.com. 

201 S. Shackleford Rd. Little Rock, AR 72211 501.223.3000 Toll-Free 866.276.6648 Summer 2010  Arkansas Wild | 41


NEWS BRIEFS

Raccoon hunting season begins July 1

AGFC seeks volunteers to help with bat project LITTLE ROCK — Does your bat house have bats? The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is looking for volunteers that have bat houses currently containing bats that would be willing to participate in a population monitoring project. Volunteers will be asked to count the bats as they fly in the evening during summer, according to AGFC non-game mammal biologist Blake Sasse. “This project will help us obtain baseline population trend information for several species, such as the big brown bat, that are known to be vulnerable to White Nose Syndrome,” Sasse said. “WNS is a disease associated with a newly discovered fungus that has caused disastrous declines in bat populations in the northeast,” he explained. This problem was first documented at four sites in eastern New York in the winter of 2006-07 and has rapidly spread west and in the winter of 2009-2010 was confirmed in Tennessee, Missouri and Oklahoma, but hasn’t yet been seen in Arkansas. Constructing bat houses is a relatively simple woodworking project and plans and tips for building and installing your own are available in the attached documents. If you’re interested in participating, contact the AGFC’s non-game mammal biologist, Blake Sasse at dbsasse@agfc.state.ar.us or call 877-470-3650. 42 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2010

LITTLE ROCK — It's a unique tradition in Arkansas - listening to the dogs run through the woods and the excitement when they've treed a raccoon. Raccoon hunting season begins July 1 in Arkansas. AGFC biologist Blake Sasse says that this season features an increased raccoon hunting bag limit on private land. "The bag limit has been raised from one to four per day from July 1-Aug. 31 and from two to four per day from Sept. 1 to the beginning of trapping season," Sasse explained. "We've also increased the raccoon hunting bag limit on WMAs to four per day from July 1-Feb. 28," he added. Raising the bag limit is part of the agency's goal of increasing raccoon harvest by 10% that was approved by the Commission in the 2001 AGFC Strategic Furbearer Plan. In July and August raccoons can only be hunted at night with the use of dogs, but starting Sept. 1 hunting during the day is allowed until the season closes at the end of March.

Henderson stepping down as AGFC director; Hitchcock to become interim director LITTLE ROCK — Commissioners from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission today announced that Scott Henderson will step down as the agency’s director Sept. 1. Henderson has been the agency director since 2003. He has worked for the AGFC since 1972. Beginning Sept. 1, current Deputy Director Loren Hitchcock will serve as the interim director. Hitchcock will serve in that capacity while a search both national and intra-agency is completed for a permanent director. Henderson will take over as the AGFC’s Commission Special Liaison. He will work on major projects and assignments as requested by the Commission and Interim Director Hitchcock. Commission Chairman Craig Campbell, speaking on behalf of all of his colleagues, asked Henderson to reconsider his decision to change hats, but respected his decision. “Each and every matter that we’re asking you to take the lead on is a legacy project in and of itself,” Campbell said. “Together, they will represent a fitting crown on top of an already long list of lifetime achievements,” he added. Commission Vice Chairman George Dunklin Jr. called Henderson a true gentleman who did an amazing job of managing the agency over the last eight years. “Being the director of the AGFC is a very complex and difficult job, but Scott was able to balance the everyday challenges with grace and dignity. Whoever is the next director will have some mighty big shoes to fill,” Dunklin said.


Come experience the Arkansas Delta, its Delta Byways is proud of the 12 Arkansas State Parks in our region. Travelers to the Arkansas Delta Byways region contribute millions of dollars to Arkansas’s economy annually: Total Travel Expenditures for 2007: $553,334,234 • Travel Generated JOBS in 2007: 6770 • 2007 State Taxes Paid: $33,927,994 • 2007 Local Taxes Paid: $10,572,422 The rich soil that makes up the Arkansas Delta was deposited from across the nation by the power of the mighty Mississippi River.  In that spirit, people from all over are traveling to the Arkansas Delta Byways tourism region to see the people, places and history that make up this fertile landscape.   Each fall, a rare visitor returns to the Arkansas Delta – the Yellow Rail. Known for its elusiveness, the barren rice fields of the Mississippi Flyway give birders a better opportunity to spy the secretive bird. Also be on the lookout for the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, the Brown-headed Nuthatch and the Fish Crow. If angling is more your game, head out to our oxbows, lakes and rivers. Our waters are plentiful with catfish, bass, bream and crappie. Hunters will find record-breaking deer in our woods. Duck hunters flock to the Arkansas Delta Byways region for its world-renowned waterfowl. Hikers, riders and outdoor enthusiasts have lots of activities to choose from at our state parks, natural areas, federal refuges and a national forest. Enjoy the scenic beauty that can only be found in the Arkansas Delta Byways region.

www.deltabyways.com “This ad paid for with a combination of state funds and Arkansas Delta Byways regional association funds.”

Upcoming Outdoor Festivals and Events: Wings Over the Prairie Festival

Stuttgart, November, Thanksgiving Weekend

World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest

Stuttgart, November, Thanksgiving Weekend


Make it a record season both in the blinds and with your someone special.

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Kyle-Rochelle Jewelers HAROLD MURCHISON, OWNER “We take pride in each design.”

Located in the historic Lafayette Building • 6th and Louisiana • Little Rock, AR 501.375.3335 • www.kylerochellejewelers.com


Summer 2010