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Exploring Arkansas April 2008

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Home Valley Bluff, Arkansas Post, Snow Geese & Trumpeters  Holla Bend National Wildlife Reserve
It's been called the most spectacular bluff line in all of the Ozarks-Home Valley Bluff near Nail-you'll see why in this episode. The cradle of Arkansas history is also explored at Arkansas Post near Gillette.  Trumpeter Swans and snow geese at Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Russellville display their grace and beauty in the third segment.

TRANSCRIPT

IT'S ONE OF THE MORE SPECTACULAR BLUFF LINES IN ALL THE 0 DARKS. THIS ROCK FORMATION IS KNOWN AS TEA TABLE ROCKS, IT'S WHERE WE BEGIN THIS WEEK'S SHOW AND THEN WE'LL TAKE YOU TO THE CRADLE OF ARKANSAS HISTORY AT THE EAST PART OF THE STATE NEAR GILLETTE AND WE'LL CONCLUDE WITH THE TRUMPETER SWANS AT HALL A BEND SOUTH OF RUSSELLVILLE. LET'S GO EXPLORE THE SITES AROUND HOME VALLEY BLUFF. HOME VALLEY BLUFF IS LOCATED IN THE OZARK NATIONAL FOREST NEAR THE TOWN OF NAIL OFF HIGHWAY 16. SINCE SOME OF THE BLUFF IS PRIVATELY OWNED, ACCESS TO IT IN THE PAST HAS BEEN LIMITED, THAT IS, UNTIL RECENTLY. OWNER ED FRENCH WITH HIS TRUSTEE DOG FANCY AND LONG TIME FRIEND AND FELLOW EXPLORER VIC TROLIO OF MISSISSIPPI GUIDED US ALONG THIS INCREDIBLE BLUFF LINE:

I'VE GOT TO DO THIS. CAN'T RESIST. RICOLA!

ORIGINALLY FROM OHIO, EDD EXPLAINED TO US HOW HE EVENTUALLY WOUND UP IN THE OZARKS AND TO THIS BLUFF.

WELL, I HAD A GOOD FRIEND THAT I WAS WORKING WITH IN INDONESIA. AND I BOUGHT PROPERTY UP HERE IN OZARKS. AND I'D GONE TO SCHOOL AT UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE, SO I WAS ALWAYS THINKING I'D END UP IN SMOKY MOUNTAIN. BUT HE INVITED ME TO COME UP HERE AND I FELL IN LOVE WITH THE PLACE. I SAW LOTS OF SIMILARITIES WITH THE SMOKY MOUNTAINS. THE BENEFIT OF BEING HERE INSTEAD OF THE SMOKE Is IS YOU JUST DON'T HAVE THE BIG CROWDS OF PEOPLE. IT'S MORE ISOLATED. AND SO THEY WERE JUST FORMING THE BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER AT THE TIME BACK IN 1972. AND I DECIDED I WANTED TO FIND SOME PROPERTY ALONG THE BUFFALO RIVER.

ALTHOUGH EDD DOES OWN A GOOD PORTION OF THIS BLUFF, HE STILL BELIEVES IN SHARING THIS UNIQUE AREA WITH OTHERS.

NO, I THINK IT WOULD BE VERY SELFISH IF I WERE TO SAY, LOOK, I'M THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN ENJOY THIS WONDERFUL PLACE. ALL I ASK IS THAT PEOPLE JUST E-MAIL ME IF THEY WOULD. THEY COULD GO TO MY WEBSITE. OZARKBLUFFDWELLERS.COM I HAVE AN E-MAIL ON THERE AND THEY CAN CONTACT ME AND SAY WE'D LIKE TO COME DOWN AND HIKE A BLUFF AND I WOULD BE VERY HAPPY TO GIVE THEM THE APPROVAL TO DO THAT. ALL I ASK IS TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE WHEN YOU LEAVE.

THERE YOU GO.

AS FAR AS BLUFF LINES GO, IT'S BEEN SAID THAT THIS ONE MAY BE THE MOST SPECTACULAR IN ALL THE OZARKS.

THAT'S OUR MOST FAMOUS PHOTOGRAPHER HERE IN NEWTON COUNTY, TIM ERNST, SAID, HE SHOULD KNOW, HE GETS OUT AND PHOTOGRAPHS EVERYTHING. IT IS A VERY SPECIAL BLUFF. IT'S CARVED OUT OF WHAT THEY CALL THE OTAGA SANDSTONE, THE MOST RESISTANT ROCK LAYER THAT RUNS AROUND THE RIDGES HERE. AND THAT'S WHAT YOU SEE ALL ALONG HERE. AND IT'S GOT SOME SPECIAL FEATURES. SUCH AS TEA TABLE ROCK. BUT THERE'S A LOT OF WATERFALLS AND INDIAN SHELTERS HERE. AND THERE'S ONE INDIAN SHELTER THAT EVEN HAS A LATIN INSCRIPTION IN IT. AND OF COURSE, WE DON'T KNOW WHO PUT IT THERE.

REMAINS A MYSTERY.

REMAINS A MYSTERY. AND NO ONE HAS TAKEN CREDIT FOR IT. SOME PEOPLE THINK THE SPANIARDS WANDERED UP THIS FAR. BUT I DON'T THINK SO. I THINK SOMEBODY ACTUALLY WENT TO SCHOOL AND LEARNED A LITTLE LATIN AND CARVED IT OUT.

VIC TROLIO AS WE MENTIONED LIVES IN MISSISSIPPI BUT FINDS HIMSELF SPENDING A LOT OF TIME HERE.

WE CAME BACK IN THE 70s DURING THE DOG PATCH DAYS AND I THOUGHT IT WAS BEAUTIFUL UP HERE. WHEN I RETIRED FIVE YEARS AGO, I TRAVELED A LOT. AND WE FOUND THIS TO BE JUST A WONDERFUL AREA. ALMOST ENDLESS OPPORTUNITIES OF KAYAKING, HIKING, FOUR WHEELING, JUST WONDERFUL.

YOU OF COURSE PARTICIPATE IN ALL OF THAT.

ALL OF THAT. WE HAVE SEVERAL BOATS, FOUR-WHEELERS AND A MOTORCYCLE. IT'S WORLD CLASS MOTORCYCLING. YOU MEET A LOT OF EDITORS MORE MAGAZINE COME THROUGH HERE. CAR PEOPLE COME FROM ALL THE DIFFERENT CLUBS. THE MIATA CLUB, THE -- QUITE A CROWD COMES THROUGH JASPER. JUST A BEAUTIFUL AREA. IT'S ALMOST UNLIMITED HIKING, BUFFALO RIVER IS WORLD CLASS. ABSOLUTELY WORLD CLASS, BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY WAY. AND IT'S JUST -- I LOVE IT HERE. WE TRY TO STAY UP HERE AS MUCH AS WE CAN. I CAN GO BACK AND WE TRAVEL A LOT.

SO WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE YEAR UP HERE?

YOU KNOW, THIS IS A WONDERFUL TIME FOR HIKING. BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE THE BUGS AND TICKS AND IT'S BEAUTIFUL. YOU SEE SO MUCH MORE WITH THE LEAVES OFF. I REALLY ENJOY THE FALL AND COLORS. WE HAD BEAUTIFUL COLORS THIS YEAR. THE SNOW IS WONDERFUL BECAUSE YOU CAN SEE SO MUCH BETTER. SO I JUST LIKE IT ALL. SUMMER, THE SWIMMING IS WONDERFUL AND IN THE BUFFALO. THE SURROUNDING LAKES, VERY NICE. COMPARED TO THE -- THERE'S SO MUCH LESS TRAFFIC AND SO MANY LESS PEOPLE THAN OVER IN THE SMOKYs. VERY REASONABLY PRICED. A WONDERFUL PLACE.

AND THAT IT IS. THERE ARE SEVERAL TALL WATERFALLS ALL ALONG THE BLUFF LINE THAT YOU CAN EXPLORE AND ENJOY.

ANOTHER UNIQUE ASPECT OF HOME VALLEY BLUFF ACCORDING TO EDD IS THAT IT ACTS AS A MINI CONTINENTAL DIVIDE. ALL THE STREAMS SOUTH OF THE BLUFF FLOW SOUTH AND STREAMS NORTH OF THE BLUFF FLOW NORTH.

IT'S ESTIMATED BY ARCHAEOLOGISTS THAT OZARK BLUFF DWELLERS LIVED IN THIS AREA 10 TO 12,000 YEARS AGO.

WITH EDD ALSO BEING A GEOLOGIST, HE WAS ABLE TO POINT OUT TO US A FEW THINGS ABOUT SOME OF THE ROCK FORMATIONS.

EDD TELL US WHAT'S GOING ON HERE. WHAT WENT ON HERE, I SHOULD SAY.

WELL, I THINK THIS IS A RATHER UNIQUE GEOLOGIC THING THAT WE'RE LOOKING AT HERE. I THINK THIS IS A FAULT THAT COMES DOWN THROUGH HERE AND BECAUSE OF THE HEAT AND FRICTION OF THE FAULT, YOU SEE HE SOME DIFFERENT COLORATIONS HERE. IT'S BRINGING OUT THE MINERALS, IRONS AND SO FORTH. AND THEN YOU HAVE A SOFT SANDSTONE OVER HERE THAT'S BEEN WEATHERED INTO THE HONEYCOMB TYPE PATTERN AND THE WHOLE THING HAS KIND OF SNUCK DOWN ALLOWING FOR A SMALL CAVE UP HERE AND IN THAT CAVE THE BUZZARDS COME AND MAKE THEIR NESTS AND YOU'LL SEE IN THE SUMMERTIME A LOT OF BONES AND THINGS DOWN HERE IN THE CLIFF AREA HERE. LOG ON TO OZARKBLUFFDWELLERS.COM TO GAIN ACCESS AND EXPLORE FOR YOURSELF ALL OF WHAT THE ORIGINAL BLUFF DWELLERS EXPERIENCED THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO ALONG HOME VALLEY BLUFF.

IN THE CRADLE OF ARKANSAS HISTORY, ARKANSAS POST IN 1682, THIS TERRITORY WAS CLAIMED FOR FRANCE, BUT IT WASN'T UNTIL 1686 WHEN ANDRE DE TONTI SETTLED THE POST. THIS AREA IS CHOCK FULL OF HISTORY AND NATURE. SO LET'S SEE WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT. THERE ARE MANY FACETS TO ARKANSAS POST AND WHY IT BECAME A NATIONAL SITE IN 1964. BESIDES BEING THE FIRST EUROPEAN SETTLEMENT IN THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER VALLEY, ARKANSAS POST WAS THE ONLY COMMUNITY IN THE STATE AT THE TIME OF THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE AND WAS DESIGNATED THE FIRST CAPITAL OF THE NEWARK SAW TERRITORY IN 1918. IT WAS ALSO ONE OF THE LAST SITES OF THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR IN 1783 AND THE 1863 BATTLE OF ARKANSAS POST DURING THE CIVIL WAR.

THE U.S. CONGRESS ESTABLISHED ARKANSAS POST NATIONAL MEMORIAL TO COMMEMORATE IT AS BEING THE VERY FIRST EUROPEAN SETTLEMENT. LOWER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY. THE FRENCH FIRST ESTABLISHED TRADING WITH THE INDIANS.

THIS AREA IS CHOCK FULL OF HISTORY. THERE'S THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR, CIVIL WAR, AND THIS OF COURSE ARKANSAS' FIRST TERRITORIAL CAPITAL.

THE FRENCH TRADING POST HERE IN 1686 IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG. THERE'S OVER 300 YEARS OF HISTORY HERE EXACTLY LIKE YOU SAID. REVOLUTIONARY WAR HISTORY, THE WAR HISTORY AND LET'S NOT FORGET THE TERRITORIAL PERIOD. THIS WAS THE VERY FIRST CAPITOL OF THE ARKANSAS TERRITORY BEFORE IT WAS LITTLE ROCK.

AND THIS AREA HERE THERE IS REMNANTS, REPLICA OF A CIVIL WAR CANNON BUT THERE WERE RIFLE PITS ALONG HERE.

EXACTLY. WE'RE STANDING IN THE LAST LINE OF THE DEFENSE. THERE WAS ABOUT 5,000 TROOPS STANDING RIGHT HERE AND THEY WERE DEFENDING THEIR VERY LAST LINE OF WHEN THEY WERE THE UNION TROOPS WERE APPROACHING THIS WAY. NOW 30,000 TROOPS UNION TROOPS TO THE 5,000 CONFEDERATE FORCES. A LITTLE DIFFICULT AT THAT TIME.

THIS CANNON OF COURSE WAS PROBABLY NOT JUST ONE HERE, BUT PROBABLY MANY LIKE IT.

THEY HAD SEVERAL GUNS OF THE TYPE. AND OTHER DIFFERENT ONES HYPED UP AND -- LINED UP AND DOWN THE RIFLE PITS HERE AND THE CONFEDERATE TRANCHES AND AT FORT HINDMAN THEY HAD SEVERAL GUNS THERE ALSO.

THE BATTLE OF ARKANSAS POST SETTLED AROUND FORT HINDMAN. THE 5,000 CONFEDERATES IN THE FORT PROVED TO BE NO MATCH AGAINST THE 30,000 UNION INFANTRY AND GUN BOATS. THE ATTACK PUT THE FORT OUT OF COMMISSION.

BEHIND US HERE AT FORT HINDMAN WAS LOCATED, THERE WAS AN EARTH FORCE CONSTRUCTED BY SLAVE LABOR AND IT WAS EARTH. BUT WHEN THE GUN BOATS, THE FEDERAL GUN BOATS, THEY BOMBARDED IT AND DESTROYED IT.

AND THAT FORT WAS OF COURSE HERE PROTECTING ALL OF THE TRAFFIC GOING UP TOWARD LITTLE ROCK, I IMAGINE.

EXACTLY. THIS IS A REALLY GREAT PLACE TO BE. FORT HINDMAN WAS ON A BLUFF OVERLOOKING THE ARKANSAS RIVER ABOUT 25 FEET HIGH. AND YOU COULD SEE UP RIVER ABOUT A MILE AND COULD SEE DOWN RIVER ABOUT A MILE. SO IT WAS STRATEGICALLY VERY IMPORTANT BECAUSE YOU COULD DO THAT AND YOU COULD DEFEND THE LINE GOING TOWARDS LITTLE ROCK.

AFTER THE CIVIL WAR ARKANSAS POST NEVER REALLY RECOVERED FROM THE SHELLING AND ALSO DECLINING RIVER TRAFFIC AND RAILROADS UNDERMINED ITS IMPORTANCE AS A PORT. EROSION CLAIMED PARTS OF THE TOWN AND WHEN THE ARKANSAS RIVER CHANGED COURSE IN THE EARLY 1900s. FORT HINDMAN GAVE WAY TO THE WATERS FOREVER. ALONG WITH ALL THE HISTORY, NATURAL HISTORY A BOUNDS HERE AS WELL. THERE ARE 2.5 MILES OF NATURE TRAILS WITH POST BAYOU BEING PART OF THE ENTIRE WILDLIFE SANCTUARY HERE. ALONG THE POST BAYOU NATURE TRAIL YOU CAN GET A GOOD VIEW OF AN EAGLE'S NEST AS LONG AS MIGRATORY WATER FOWL IN WINTER MONTHS. THERE'S EVEN AN ALLIGATOR HERE SOMEWHERE, SO THEY TELL US. YES, ARKANSAS POST REMAINS A PLACE OF GREAT BEAUTY AND GREAT HISTORY. EXPLORE IT FOR YOURSELF IN SOUTHEAST ARKANSAS.

IN AN EARLIER EPISODE WE SHOWED YOU ALL THE TREM TER SWANS THAT MIGRATE TO THE LAKE NEAR THE SPRINGS EVERY YEAR. NOW FOLKS IN WEST ARKANSAS WITH ENJOY THESE IMAGINE MAGNIFICENTT HOLLA BEND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE SOUTH OF RUSSELLVILLE. BRINGING THE ACTUAL TER SWANS DOWN FROM IOWA TO THEIR NEW WINTER HOME HERE AT HOLLA BEND SOUTH OF RUSSELLVILLE WAS A MULTI AGENCY EFFORT.

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, ARKANSAS FISH AND GAME COMMISSION, THE IOWA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE TRUMPETER SWAN SOCIETY ALL GOT TOGETHER AND THEY NEEDED A PLACE FOR THE SWANS TO MIGRATE. THEY HAD BEEN EX TIP LATED TO THE POINT WHERE THEY DIDN'T HAVE -- WHEN THEY STARTED REARE INTRODUCING SWANS BACK TO THEIR NESTING GROUNDS, THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE OLDER POPULATION TO SHOW THE SWANS WHERE TO MIGRATE AND ARKANSAS WAS TRADITIONALLY ONE OF THEIR WINTERING AREAS ALONG THE FLY WAY. SO IT WAS DECIDED TO TRY AN EXPERIMENT WITH THE REVERSE IMPRINTING TO BRING THE SWANS TO THEIR WINT -- WINTERING GROUNDS SO THEY KNOW WHERE THEIR NESTING GROUNDS ARE AT. IT'S AN EXPERIMENT. WE'RE JUST GIVING IT A TRY. THIS WILL BE THE FIRST YEAR I THINK IN A 3-YEAR EXPERIMENT TO SEE IF THE SWANS WILL RETURN BACK TO THE NESTING GROUND AND -- WHICH THEY PROBABLY WILL. WHAT THEY'RE HOPING IS THAT THEY'LL COME BACK HERE NEXT WINTER.

NOW THAT'S THE QUESTION.

THAT'S THE QUESTION HE. WILL THEY RETURN?

YEAH.

BUT YOU THINK IN ALL PROBABILITY THAT THEY WILL?

WE DON'T KNOW. IT'S AN EXPERIMENT. IT'S AN EXPERIMENT THAT THEY'RE TRYING. BUT THIS IS THE FIRST GO AROUND. SO WE'LL WAIT AND SEE NEXT WINTER.

NOW, THEY MAY NOT OF COURSE MAGNUS LAKE THERE NEAR HEBREW SPRINGS THERE'S A POPULATION THAT RETURNS EVERY YEAR. IF THEY DON'T RETURN HERE, THEY MAY JOIN UP WITH THE OTHER BIRDS THERE.

THEY MIGHT. THESE GUYS THEY TURNED THEM LOOSE RIGHT HERE IN THIS POND AND THEY'VE NOT STRAYED ANYWHERE. THEY SEEM TO BE HAPPY RIGHT HERE. THEY'VE GOT PROTECTION, FOOD, WATER, SO WE KNOW -- WHEN THE OTHER GEESE AND DUCKS BEGIN TO MIGRATE, THEY'LL PROBABLY GO BACK TO THEIR NESTING GROUND AND HOPEFULLY NEXT SUMMER THEY'LL RETURN HERE AND HOLLA BEND WILL BE THEIR WINTER HOME.

ARE YOU PROVIDE BEING THEM SUPPLEMENTAL FEEDING IN ADDITION TO WHAT THEY FIND IN THE WILD?

JUST FOR A COUPLE DAYS TO GET THEM -- MAKE THEM HAPPEN A, MAKE THEM STAY HERE. BUT THEY HAVE K GO A COUPLE DAYS WITHOUT FOOD, TRAVELED HERE FROM IOWA. THAT WAS TO HELP THEM GET STARTED. BUT THEY'VE NOT HAD ANY SUPPLEMENTAL FEEDING NOW FOR THREE OR FOUR DAYS. SO THEY'RE HERE ON THEIR OWN.

THERE'S PRINT OF FOOD OUT THERE FOR THEM. PLENTY OF FOOD.

YES. THEY FEED A LOT ON THE WATER VEGETATION, THE ROOTS FROM THE WATER PLANTS. THEY'RE FINDING PLENTY TO EAT.

MAYBE THEY'LL BE COMING BACK YEAR AFTER YEAR AND BRINGING SOME OF THEIR FRIENDS WITH THEM.

WE HOPE SO. THESE ARE YOUNG BIRDS THAT WERE -- THEY WERE CAPTIVE-RAZE RAISED BIRDS BUT THEY WERE RAISED BY WILD BIRDS. A LOCAL FARMERS UP THERE IN THAT AREA. THEY ACTUALLY RAISED THESE YOUNG BIRDS USING WILD SWANS. SO I THINK THEY'LL -- THEY SURVIVE BETTER THAN JUST THE TOTALLY CAPTIVE-RAISED BIRDS. SO THEY'RE DOING TO WELL HERE AND IT'S LOOKING GOOD. LOOKING GOOD THAT THEY'LL BE BACK.

OF COURSE ALONG WITH THE TRUMPETER SWANS THERE ARE PLENTY OF OTHER MIGRATORY WATER FOWL TO BE VIEWED, PHOTOGRAPHED, AND ENJOYED ON THIS 7,000-PLUS ACRE REFUGE. THE PRIMARY GOAL OF THE HABITAT MANAGEMENT PROGRAM AT HOLLA BEND IS TO PROVIDE FEEDING AND RESTING AREAS FOR ALL THE RESTING MIGRATORY WATER FOWL. WHEN YOU CONSIDER THE MILLIONS OF DUCKS AND GEESE THAT USE THE MISSISSIPPI AND CENTRAL FLYWAYS EACH YEAR, THAT MEANS IT'S NOT UNCOMMON FOR THIS REFUGE TO HOST 100,000 DUCKS AND GEESE AT ONCE. THIS PARTICULAR DAY DURING OUR VISIT, WE ALSO ENCOUNTERED LITERALLY THOUSANDS OF SNOW GEESE THAT FILL THE SKIES AND SWOOP DOWN ONTO THE FIELDS TO FEED. A SITE LIKE THIS IS SOMETHING TO BE BEHOLD. AND FAIRLY COMMON DURING THE WINTER MONTHS. WHEN YOU CONSIDER HOLLA BEND'S ATTRACTION TO MIGRATORY SONG BIRDS AS WELL, THE TOTAL NUMBER OF SPECIES OF BIRDS THAT HAVE BEEN DOCUMENTED AND OCCUR ON THE REFUGE ANNUALLY REACHES 235. COME AND EXPLORE HOLE A BEND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE FOR YOURSELF AND TAKE IN ALL OF NATURE'S ENTERTAINMENT. SO GRAB YOUR CAMERA AND PAY A VISIT TO HOLLA BEND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE NEAR RUSSELLVILLE AND CHECK OUT ALL THE TRUMPETER SWANS HERE AND CHECK OUT THE CRADLE OF HISTORY AT ARKANSAS POST OR TAKE THE HIKE INTO THE VALLEY BLUFF AND EXPLORE THE TEA TABLE ROCKS AREA. AND FOR MORE ON THESE AND OTHER DESTINATIONS AND TO VIEW OUR MAPS OR TO ORDER A COPY OF AN EPISODE, VISIT OUR WEB WEBSITE WWW.AETN.ORG AND WE'LL SEE YOU AGAIN THE NEXT TIME FOR ANOTHER EXCITING ADVENTURE ON "EXPLORING ARKANSAS."

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