More Fun at Lake Fort Smith State Park

March 8, 2013

Who doesn’t enjoy an evening by the fire, nestled in a cabin, in the woods, near a lake? Quiet, peace. Made all the more special as you feel your muscles relax after a day of hiking, kayaking and fishing.

All kinds of discoveries to be made kayaking Lake Fort Smith.

All kinds of discoveries to be made kayaking Lake Fort Smith.

Now put yourself in that picture. It’s easy, in Arkansas we have many places where you can have this experience and last week one more was added.

Lake Fort Smith State Park was moved from it’s original location and reopened in May of 2008. Since then we have worked to recreate most of the amenities of the original park which was built in the late 1930’s and became a state park in 1966.

Exhibits in the Visitor Center gives you a sense of place.

Exhibits in the Visitor Center gives you a sense of place.

Starting with a state-of-the-art visitor center complete with exhibits telling the story of the history, geology and nature of this beautiful area in the Boston Mountains of western Arkansas. Thirty beautiful campsites with modern amenities, group lodging, marina, playground and day-use area and more were built.

Cool off in the park pool during the Summer.

Cool off in the park pool during the Summer.

Don't have a boat, rent one at the park marina.

Don’t have a boat, rent one at the park marina.

The Ozark Highlands Trail was rerouted to keep the western terminus at the park. More trails are planned throughout the park and in the nearby forest.

Don't let it fool you, this trail quickly turns rugged for adventurous hikes.

Don’t let it fool you, this trail quickly turns rugged for adventurous hikes.

Last week one of the major projects to replicate the old park was completed. Ten new cabins were opened in the park. One and two bedroom cabins are available, two of them are ADA compliant  and one is dog-friendly. All have wooded views from the back decks.

Modern cabins, all the comforts of home in a fantastic setting.

Modern cabins, all the comforts of home in a fantastic setting.


Test Post

August 1, 2012

This is a test sorry folks


Wings on the Wind

August 30, 2011

Sitting on a bluff overlooking a vast landscape is a great way to enjoy a September morning on Mount Magazine. Scanning the horizon with a good set of binoculars helps spot wings on the wind. Southward migration has started for many species of birds and some butterflies. The unpredictable nature of migration watching requires diligence. Some days are a bust due to weather conditions. But other days can be outstanding with a good diversity of species and numbers of individuals.

For the column of states including Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana Mount Magazine is the highest point above sea level. Perhaps to a migrant it represents a landmark and/or an obstacle for navigation. For many it is a convenient rest stop.

A red-tailed hawk catching a thermal.

A red-tailed hawk catching a thermal.

Broad-winged hawks usually top the tally. They rest overnight in forested areas. As thermals begin to build during the day, one by one, they leave the canopy to catch rising air. Circling in these unseen currents hawks gain elevation rapidly. It is possible to have over a hundred broad-winged hawks swirling in a thermal at one time.  This is called a kettle. Reaching the top of the thermal they slip out, with wings set, gliding southward. Losing elevation as they approach the northern edge of Mount Magazine where they take advantage of updrafts to lift them just over the bluffs.

Tall bluffs flanking Ross Hollow create a funnel which many birds of prey use to cross over the mountaintop as if it were a major highway. The northern tip of Cameron Bluff offers a great vantage point for scanning the horizon and the hollow. Birds can be above, below, or even at eye level, offering opportunities to study field marks for identification.

There are many other species seen migrating over Mount Magazine other than broad-winged hawks. Red-tailed, red-shouldered, Cooper’s, and sharp-shinned hawks, northern harriers, ospreys, vultures, bald eagles, American kestrels, and even peregrine falcons have been seen from Cameron Bluff during September. White pelicans, song birds, and butterflies are also seen.

Monarchs and a few other migrating butterflies use the same updrafts to lift themselves over the mountain. Many will take the Mount Magazine exit to refuel on patches of wildflowers along park roadsides. Tickseed sunflower must appear like “golden arches” to these adolescent insects. Late arrivals often cluster together on “tree hotels” with southwestern views.  Some monarchs will be tagged and released to continue their way southward to their winter vacation in Mexican mountains.

A female Monarch Butterfly enjoys a stop over at Mount Magazine.

A female Monarch Butterfly enjoys a stop over at Mount Magazine.

On the south side of the mountain migrating hawks seek out more thermals over the Petit Jean River Valley to help them get through the Ouachita Mountains. Turkey vultures are masters of riding updrafts and thermals. It seems as though some hawks key in on vultures to find thermals.

While sitting on Cameron Bluff, waiting for the next passerby, enjoy either solitude with a spectacular view or conversations with other watchers with various backgrounds and experiences. Pick up tips on hawk identification. Take advantage of unique photo opportunities.

A park interpreter is offering migration watching sessions at Mount Magazine State Park in September. Check the schedule.

So pack your binoculars, lawn chairs, water, and snacks, drive to the northern tip of Cameron Bluff Overlook Drive in Mount Magazine State Park, and watch wings on the wind.

Don Simons, Park Interpreter

Don Simons, Park Interpreter

Don Simons is a Park Interpreter at Mount Magazine State Park. One of the state’s great naturalists, Don has been showing and explaining the “Natural State” to visitors for 29 years, at Daisy State Park, Lake Chicot State Park and now at Mount Magazine. Don is also an excellent photographer whose work can be seen throughout the Mount Magazine Lodge and Visitor Center and in publications. Don has the unique ability to entertain children and adults at the same time while also teaching about the world around them. Don is an active member of the National Association for Interpretation and is a Certified Heritage Interpreter.


Spring Fever!

March 1, 2011

It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!Mark Twain

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. Margaret Atwood

Who’s ready for spring? Signs of this much-anticipated season are everywhere, from fields carpeted with henbit to blooming elm trees; March reminds us that warmer weather is on the way. After this harsh winter in the Arkansas River Valley, I freely admit I have spring fever.

Falcate orangetip

Falcate orangetip

When I look ahead to March on the calendar, “spring break” comes to mind, a reminder that it’s time to schedule park programs that coincide with wildflower blooming and emergence of butterflies. It’s time to wipe the dust off the boxes holding my spring crafts for kids. It’s also time to work on my garden chore list and think about plants for this growing season. See? I have spring fever.

Due to higher elevation, spring temperatures come a bit later to Mount Magazine. A general rule of thumb is to add one week of greening or blooming for each 1,000 feet of elevation gain. The door of the season still opens in March.

Serviceberry dots the mountain.

Serviceberry dots the mountain.

Serviceberry will soon dot the landscape with bright white blossoms. Spring beauties, trout lilies, and daffodils begin to emerge this month. Bloodroot, with its one-day-only white flowers and large leaves will emerge like a phoenix from the fallen leaves.

The symbiosis of flowering plants and animals is easily seen during the spring months. In mutualism, both organisms benefit. Flowers advertise their nectar rewards with specific colors, shapes, and nectar rewards, much like the advertising we see everyday in every form. Insects and birds are attracted as the consumer, and pollinate the plant in the process, enabling the plant to reproduce. Lack of color, unique shape, and putrid scent attract flies and gnats as pollinators.

Count the question marks.

Count the question marks

As birds begin to migrate north, many will drill into trees in search of food. Sap trickling down a tree trunk left behind afterwards attracts butterflies that have emerged from torpor. Question marks, goatweed leafwings, and mourning cloaks feast on the sugar-laden sap.

Zebra swallowtail

Zebra swallowtail

Butterflies that emerge from chrysalides in early spring are darker and smaller than summer forms in order to use the sun’s energy more efficiently. Zebra swallowtails, falcate orangetips, hairstreaks, duskywings, and elfins begin to take nectar from sources such as plum blossoms, redbud, spiderwort, wild hyacinth, blue star, and so many more. Ruby-throated hummingbirds usually arrive the first full week of April, and the flowers of Ohio buckeye and yellow honeysuckle are usually ready for them.  The best way to experience these flowers is to bring a field guide, get a park wildflower checklist, and of course, go on a wildflower hike with a park interpreter.

I’m not quite certain when my love affair with wildflowers began. Part of my affection stems from my love of butterflies; a lepidopterist has to be part botanist in order to understand the relationship between them. But my love of spring wildflowers is separate, and not just because the majority of them aren’t pollinated by butterflies. I admire these flowers with a short blooming period; completing their life cycles before the leaves take over with such precision and efficiency.

Seldom-seen yellow trout lily

Seldom-seen yellow trout lily

After so many years of living and working at Mount Magazine State Park, I delight in being able to take visitors to fire pink, spiderwort, Ohio buckeye, historic quince, and lilac shrubs on Will Apple’s Road Trail; bloodroot, trillium, and crested iris on the Signal Hill trail, and Jack-in-the-Pulpit on the Cove Lake trail. I am asked lots of questions about which trail to take to see wildflowers, and am often asked to identify photos of wildflowers after the hike is over. Helping visitors connect to nature in this way, and helping them gain confidence in their identification skills, and helping kids begin their own butterfly gardens are highlights of spring.

If not during spring break, then at some point in spring, I encourage you to visit a state park and walk a trail to cure your spring fever.

Lori Spencer, Certified Heritage Interpreter

Lori Spencer, Certified Heritage Interpreter

Lori Spencer has been a volunteer at Mount Magazine State Park since 1997, and is chairman of the Mount Magazine Action Group. She holds a M.S. in entomology and is the author of Arkansas Butterflies and Moths.


First Snow of the Year at Arkansas State Parks

January 11, 2011

Photos by Arkansas State Parks, Taken between Jan 09-11, 2011

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from Arkansas State Parks

December 6, 2010

(Quick note: This will be the last blog article of 2010. We will start again in January bringing you the state parks from the perspective of the park staff. We have really enjoyed this first year of the Arkansas State Parks blog and appreciate your comments. See you in the new year!)

 

The Arkansas State Parks On-The-Go Park Guide

The Arkansas State Parks On-The-Go Park Guide

 

Just in time for the holidays, Arkansas State Parks has offered up a FREE iPhone app for our users. We know this is something that not everyone can use but it is our first step into mobile communications and we hope that those of you with an iPhone will enjoy it. For the rest of you, we are working on ideas for you. The new year will bring many surprises and treats for our online community (including other smartphone users). One of the best ways to keep up with us on the go is through our various social community sites most of which are usable on the smartphones. Below is copy from the news release for the new iPhone app. It explains a little more about why we went in this direction.

For travelers, mobile phones have evolved into hand-held guides for those on the go. Arkansas State Parks has launched its new iPhone app, the Arkansas State Parks On-The-Go Park Guide, a fully interactive and engaging guide to Arkansas’s 52 state parks, according to State Parks Director Greg Butts. Designed by Aristotle Internet of Little Rock, this new mobile application is available for free download from the iTunes Store.

Butts said, “Arkansas State Parks iPhone application offers a new way to stay connected with the state parks while traveling. Besides helping users connect to the diversity of parks throughout Arkansas and the many activities offered in each one, the app will also help us connect to the younger generation of park users.” He continued, “An easy way to download the app is by visiting the Community Page on ArkansasStateParks.com, our park system’s official website. Here you can explore Arkansas State Parks’ blogs and social networks, discover new Arkansas vacation and getaways choices in our state parks, watch videos of the Arkansas state parks, and share travel tips online.” Butts noted that the new app can be downloaded for free at http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/iphone or by searching “Arkansas State Parks” in the Apple iTunes store.

The application’s features include quick access to park information, quick search based on both location and type of park, listings of park programs scheduled for the next two weeks, maps showing where each park is located, quick dial to contact the park, special notices from the parks and/or the state parks director’s office in Little Rock, and quick information on the nearest state park and trails to your present location or the city you will be visiting.

According to Joe Jacobs, manager of Marketing and Revenue for Arkansas State Parks, “Whether you live in Arkansas or are just traveling through our state, the Arkansas State Parks iPhone On-The-Go Park Guide will help you find just the right park for you. Locate a park by type including camping, historic site, lake, lodging, mountains, museum, or search by activities such as picnicking.” He said, “You can find a park near you and get contact information, details on activities and programs, and a link to that park’s website for more information. There’s even a map to help you find the park.”

Jacobs emphasized that the decision to develop an app for the iPhone operating system verses other systems was financial. “In October 2010, the iPhone, iPad, and iTouch phones accounted for over 83 percent of the smartphone access to ArkansasStateParks.com, and with budget limitations, the decision was made to address those users first,” he said. “We are currently researching options to create a mobile environment for other users such as Android and Blackberry, and expect to have something for them in the next year.”

He noted, “One of the most popular outdoor activities to enjoy in an Arkansas state park is hiking, so trails information is an important component of the iPhone app, too. Find a trail near you, look it up by location, difficulty or type. We have trail choices for everyone.”

A Winter view from Mount Nebo State Park

A Winter view from Mount Nebo State Park

Updates to include directions to the parks from wherever you are and social media integration are planned soon. “We will continue to improve the app and have already started working on the first update,” said Jacobs.

Also remember you will need to update the phone to iOS 4.1, an Apple requirement, to download the app. Also, the app is fully integrated with our online calendar of events, online trails database and special notices. Hope you have a great holiday season! When it gets crazy around the house, visit a park with your friends and family.  In the meantime, see you on Facebook & Twitter!


The Milkweed Archipelago

October 8, 2010

“The universe has as many different centers as there are living beings in it.”  Alexander Solzhenitsyn

A tiny island of orange beckons an orange butterfly.  Down she goes as millions of her ancestors have for eons of time.  This brilliant orange flower and this beautiful insect have a relationship common in nature.  Milkweed is required for the reproduction of the Monarch butterfly.  The plant has many defenses for protection from hungry bugs.  One of the most potent is a chemical called cardiac glycoside.  It is poisonous to most animals.  It is life to the Monarch.

The female carefully sticks her cone shaped eggs to the bottom of the milkweed leaves.  In a few days they will hatch, and the tiny caterpillars will find themselves on a salad bar perfect for their taste.  Cardiac glycoside is the flavor they crave.  They like it so much it becomes part of them, stored in their tissues.

When they emerge from the chrysalis, their bright orange wings will fill with fluid.  Not only are they bold and bright in color, they fly slowly.  They are an easy target for insect eating birds.  Monarchs are easy to catch, but hard to digest.  Glycoside from the milkweed causes a nasty stomach upset for the hungry bird, and the bright orange and black pattern of the Monarch makes it easier to remember the nauseating dining experience.  It is no longer on the menu.  Monarchs that fly past this bird in the future can pass in safety.  The bold pattern of the monarch is a warning coloration.  While many species in the animal kingdom try to blend in, the monarch, armed with its own version of chemical warfare, stands out.

At least two other insects have adapted to eating milkweed and making glycoside their own.  The Milkweed Beetle and Milkweed Bug feed only on milkweed.  The orange-red Milkweed Beetles are often seen on the leaves, and the red and black Milkweed Bugs can be found on the seedpods.  They are brilliant, beautiful, and a sickening meal for predators.

 

Milkweed

Milkweed

 

Rich Mountain is an excellent stopover for Monarchs due to the many species of wildflowers that bloom during the end of September and the beginning of October. We can’t predict the exact days of the migration, but it usually happens in the first days of October.

A wave of orange will descend onto the white, yellow and blue flowers along the Lover’s Leap Trail.  The adult Monarchs are not limited to milkweed, but nectar on many different wildflowers.  Only as caterpillars are they tied exclusively to members of the milkweed clan.  Thousands of Monarch butterflies will steadily move over the mountain toward their wintering ground in Mexico.

A few Monarchs trickle through the park all through August and September. These early individuals are just the preview of the flood that will come.

This remarkable phenomenon of the fall season reminds us of the unending cycle of life. Each year Monarchs wing their way across the Ouachitas persistently fluttering toward the southwest.  Grounded, we watch them pass and take comfort in the promise it gives us for the years to come.

Next year the Monarchs will head north from their wintering ground in Mexico searching for the scattered clumps of milkweed. Their islands of survival, the milkweed archipelago, is the center of the Monarch’s universe.

Brad Holleman, Park Interpreter

Brad Holleman, Park Interpreter

Brad Holleman has been the park interpreter at Queen Wilhelmina State Park since 1991. He started his career in 1983 as a seasonal interpreter at Lake Ouachita State Park andLake Fort Smith State Park. In 1984 he received a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Management from Arkansas Tech University. Brad worked as an interpreter at Lake Catherine State Park from 1984-89 and then at Petit Jean State Park from 1989-91. He is a member of the National Association for Interpretation and is a Certified Heritage Interpreter. He is also active with the Talimena Scenic Drive Association and on the Board of Advisors with the Ouachita Mountains Biological Station.


Unique Ways to Support your Arkansas State Parks

July 29, 2010

The Coca-Cola Company and its subsidiary, Odwalla have created some exciting ways to support both state and national parks.

Which is your favorite park?

Which is your favorite park?

From the Live Positively Website: “For over 40 years, Coca-Cola has supported America’s national parks. Through our support of individual parks and the National Park Foundation, we’ve helped maintain and rebuild 260 miles of trails so families can be active together while enjoying the great outdoors. In the last 4 years we’ve donated over 4 million dollars to national parks for restoration and renovation.

To demonstrate our commitment to our parks we’re encouraging all families to come out and play this summer. You can also help support America’s parks by simply voting for your favorite. The national or state park with the most votes will receive a $100,000 grant from Coca-Cola. Vote as many times as you like from 7/29 to 8/31”

This could easily be an Arkansas State Park. It’s up to you. They don’t ask for any personal information and you can vote as often and for as many parks as you would like. We just ask that you make them Arkansas State Parks.

You plant up to 5 trees.

You plant up to 5 trees.

From the Plant-A-Tree Website: “For the past 2 years, along with your help, Odwalla has made a commitment to our state parks by donating money to help plant trees. It’s pretty simple. We provide the trees, and you get to decide how much support each state gets.”

You can plant up to 5 trees and for every tree planted for Arkansas, the state parks gets $1.00 toward the purchase and planting of trees. This could be used for youth programs, facility landscaping or reforestation.

For this one they had us create a video to promote the program. Watch it here. Vote For Trees Thanks for supporting Arkansas State Parks.


It’s School Group Season!

May 6, 2010

As a former public school teacher, one of my favorite services we provide at your Arkansas State Parks is programs for local school groups.  I remember how hard it was trying to connect my students to the natural world in the sterile environment of a classroom.  Most of our parks have programs specifically designed for school groups that are aligned with the Arkansas K-12 frameworks, and some even have programs aligned with the Head Start Domains and NAEYC Accreditation Criteria.  Each park interprets topics based on their location and mission statement.  So there are lots of topics to choose from.  Here at Village Creek State Park we concentrate on the Arkansas Natural Division known as Crowley’s Ridge including its geologic and cultural history and unique ecosystems.  We also have programs on conservation and park preservation and the Trail of Tears.  Most of the parks can accommodate School Groups throughout the year, but May always seems to be School Group season.

A group of students enjoys hands-on learning with a park interpreter.

A group of students enjoys hands-on learning with a park interpreter.

Students can get a better understanding of the Trail of Tears when they can actually walk part of it.

Students can get a better understanding of the Trail of Tears when they can actually walk part of it.

There is just something about helping teachers connect the children of our community with this wonderful state and all its wonderful history, geology, past cultures, and of course nature.  Imagine teaching your students about Andrew Jackson and the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and then having the opportunity to take those students on a hike along part of one of the roads that was used to take members of the Native American nations affected to Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma.)  Here at Village Creek State Park students can more easily imagine some of the hardships endured by members of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muscogee (Creek), and Cherokee Nations who traveled along this portion of the Trail of Tears when they can hear the buzz of mosquitoes who no longer carry malaria, or when they are tired or hot after only walking a mile and we remind them that during the Trail of Tears detachments averaged 10 miles a day and depending on the detachment they may or may not have had enough food to eat, or been dressed appropriately for the weather not to mention individuals that were suffering from diseases caused by the unsanitary conditions they endured in the internment camps before they even left their homelands or that they may have contracted along the journey such as cholera or dysentery.

Close-up of a spider seen along the Big Ben Trail seen on a hike.

Close-up of a spider seen along the Big Ben Trail seen on a hike,

Allowing students to experience the natural world through a hike is a great way to get them to explore how different parts of an ecosystem depend on each other in order for the entire ecosystem to function properly.  On lucky days we catch a glimpse of some of our native wildlife such as insects, spiders, birds, skinks, frogs, and occasionally even a white-tailed deer, which makes the experience even more memorable for the students.

Somethimes we get a special treat that we can share with school groups likke this barn swallow nest at the visitor center.

Somethimes we get a special treat that we can share with school groups like this barn swallow nest at the visitor center.

The formation of Crowley’s Ridge was always a tough subject for me to convey to my students when I was teaching.  Since it was formed by sedimentation and erosion and has a foundation of only clay, sand and gravel, unlike the other ridges or mountains in Arkansas that have bedrock foundations and were formed as a result of uplift and erosion.  Here at Village Creek State Park I can actually show students the four layers of Crowley’s Ridge, and let the children see for themselves the oceanic clay layers while we discuss the lignite coal and fossil imprints of primitive plants found in the Clay II layer and the fossilized shark’s teeth, string ray spines, and such found in the Clay I layer.  The students can also see for themselves how the sand and gravel layer keeps our creek crystal clear, and hopefully make the connection that they would be an excellent source of fresh water for the Native Americans who originally inhabited this part of Arkansas, and for the first European settlers that came to Arkansas before it was a state.  Students can also visually see just how erosive the loess top soil is when they see the steep ravines found along the trails.

Tara Gillanders, Park Interpreter

Tara Gillanders, Park Interpreter

Raised in Kingsville, TX, Tara’s family moved to Jonesboro, AR in the mid 1980s where she graduated from high school and earned a bachelor’s degree in science education from Arkansas State University.  Tara taught high school science for 3 years before finding out about the profession of interpretation.  She has been the park interpreter at Village Creek State Park since 2008. “I cannot imagine a more fulfilling job.  What other profession allows you to connect people to the things you are passionate about?”


The Park that was a Farm

February 22, 2010

Entering Crowley’s Ridge State Park, the first things you notice are the trees.  As you wander through the park you will see a wide variety of trees, shrubs, vines, and flowering plants.  Looking at all of the greenery it might be hard to picture the land as a farm, but that is exactly what it was before a determined group of people decided that it needed to become a park.

Crowley’s Grave – this monument was built in the Shiloh Cemetery to honor Benjamin Crowley, the first prominent settler on the ridge and the man for whom Crowley’s Ridge was named.

Crowley’s Grave – this monument was built in the Shiloh Cemetery to honor Benjamin Crowley, the first prominent settler on the ridge and the man for whom Crowley’s Ridge was named.

In the early 1800’s a man named Benjamin Crowley decided to settle in Northeast Arkansas.  He had originally been given a piece of land in Missouri as partial payment for his service in the War of 1812.  Unfortunately, when he arrived to settle his land he discovered that it had been covered with water due to the massive earthquakes that shook the area in 1811 and 1812, so he decided to keep searching for a good spot to set up his homestead.  Although he traveled through Davidsonville and stayed there for a little while he eventually made his way to what would later become a little town called Walcott and set up his homestead there.  He liked it so much that he encouraged his family and friends to move to the area.  On his land the first church service for the area was held, the first court session for Greene County was held, and one of the first cemeteries was established.

Mrs. Belle Hodges Wall’s perseverance played a large part in the creation of Crowley’s Ridge State Park.

Mrs. Belle Hodges Wall’s perseverance played a large part in the creation of Crowley’s Ridge State Park.

As time went on most of the land was used for farmland until a small group of citizens decided that the area needed to be set aside due to its historical significance.  Led by a woman named Belle Hodges Wall, the group formed the Greene County Historical Society and began working to raise money to purchase land that could then be set aside as a park.  The first time they contacted the state government about including their land in the brand new state park system they were informed that the amount of land was not enough to declare it a state park and that the farm land and swamp areas would make a poor park.  Rather than giving up Mrs. Wall organized a letter writing campaign and hired W.R. Heagler to design a plan that would turn the farm into a park.  Eventually Mrs. Wall was successful and in 1933 the land was accepted as a state park.  W.R. Heagler was chosen as the first superintendent and oversaw the construction of the park facilities.

The beginnings of the park coincided with the beginnings of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal projects.  Five CCC companies over the course of five years, from 1933 to 1938, worked to transform the land into a place that the community would be proud to claim as their local state park.  They built facilities, put in culverts, cleared trails, and planted more than ten thousand trees and more than fifty thousand shrubs and vines.  Although, the trees create a wonderful view, some might argue that

The first company of Civilian Conservation Corps workers lived in tents while working on the park.  This picture shows the barren conditions that the area was in before the CCC planted numerous trees, vines, and shrubs.

The first company of Civilian Conservation Corps workers lived in tents while working on the park. This picture shows the barren conditions that the area was in before the CCC planted numerous trees, vines, and shrubs.

planting the shrubs and vines was actually more important.  The soil on Crowley’s Ridge is highly erodible and after being farmed for so long one of the big concerns was the soil simply blowing away.  The root systems of the shrubs and vines spread quickly, helping to hold the soil in place.

Today our visitors enjoy walks on our hiking trails that take them through the woods and past a wide variety of plants species.  Many species of wildlife have moved in and set up homes, including whitetail deer, turkey, red fox, and pileated woodpeckers.  Through the perseverance of a community and the hard work of a group of young men the farm has become a park that is a treasured part of the northeast Arkansas community and thanks to the Arkansas State Parks system and the citizens of Arkansas it will remain that way for many years to come.

The Wishing Well Flume near Lake Ponder is surrounded by greenery.

The Wishing Well Flume near Lake Ponder is surrounded by greenery.

Heather Runyan, Park Interpreter

Heather Runyan, Park Interpreter

Heather Runyan graduated from Henderson State University with a bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Park Administration and after college served two terms as an AmeriCorps member.   She began working for Arkansas State Parks in 2006 as the Park Interpreter at Crowley’s Ridge State Park.   Heather is a member of the National Association for Interpretation and a Certified Interpretive Guide.