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Exploring Arkansas August 2011

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DeGray Lake Snorkeling, Kayak Fishing, Sugarloaf Little Red, Grand Cypress Natural Area
Snorkeling at DeGray Lake near Arkadelphia isn't quite like the coral reefs of the Caribbean, but you do have a wonderful opportunity to explore "rock reefs" and walls underwater The sport of kayak fishing is coming of age with new kayak designs that are tailor made for the kayak angler in getting to those secluded "honey holes." The other Sugarloaf mountain in the Heber Springs area is the one along the Little Red River Hiking to the summit is a challenge in itself-especially the final few feet. The Grand Cypress Natural Area located in the Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area near Stuttgart is a sterling example of the wetland habitat that once covered a vast area of the southern region.

TRANSCRIPT

HEY, HEY, HEY, GOING SNORKELING ON THIS WEEK'S EXPLORING ARKANSAS. YEAH, BUDDY. FOR THOSE OF US WHO DON'T HAVE THE LUXURY OF GOING TO THE CARIBBEAN AND SNORKELING BY A CORAL REEF, THE NEXT THING IS TAKING A SNORKELING OUTING AT DeGRAY LAKE RESORT STATE PARK. YOU GET A MASK AND AFTER YOU PUT THE SNORKEL IN YOUR MOUTH, OF COURSE, IT'S YOURS TO KEEP. MINIMUM SNORKELING AGE IS 8 AND RESERVATIONS CAN BE MADE AT THE MARINA WHERE A PARK INTERPRETER WILL FIRST PREP YOU AND FILL YOU IN AS FAR AS WHAT TO EXPECT.

TWO FEET OF WATER TO 180 FEET OF WATER. WE'RE GOING OUT TO AN ISLAND, AND WE'LL PARK ON ONE SIDE OF THE ISLAND AND WE'LL MAKE OUR WAY SLOWLY AROUND THE ISLAND. ONE SIDE OF THE ISLAND IS QUITE SHALLOW AND SANDY. AND THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ISLAND IS WHERE THE OLD RIVER CHANNEL USED TO RUN AND IT'S EXTREMELY DEEP. AND THERE'S A ROCK WALL, A BLUFF THAT GOES DOWN THE WHOLE WAY. SO, WE'LL DO THE SHALLOW WATER SNORKLING FIRST SO THAT WE'RE ALL FEELING COMFORTABLE, AND THEN WE'LL MOVE ON AROUND THE ISLAND TO THE DEEP SIDE AND WE'LL SNORKEL ON THAT ROCK WALL AND SEE WHAT WE CAN SEE.

AFTER ABOUT A 20 MINUTE OR SO BOAT RIDE, YOU'LL FINALLY APPROACH YOUR SNORKELING ADVENTURE AISLE -- ISLE. FOLLOWING A FEW LAST-MINUTE ADJUSTMENTS AND FITTINGS, TIME TO DIVE INTO THE FUN. DIVE, DIVE.

OF COURSE, THERE AREN'T ANY CORAL REEFS DeGRAY LAKE. WATER IS MURKY. IT'S INTERESTING UNDERNEATH THE WATER, THE FORMATIONS. [WATER SOUNDS]

BUT YOUR SNORKELING ISLE ADVENTURE IS A WHOLE LOT MORE THAN JUST THE SNORKELING. YOUR PARK INTERPRETER GUIDE WILL ALSO ENLIGHTEN YOU ON DeGRAY LAKE ITSELF, AND THE OUACHITA MOUNTAINS WHERE IT'S SITUATED AND ANY QUESTIONS ARE WELCOME.

THIS HAS A RING AROUND IT.

THAT'S ACTUALLY WHERE THE LAKE GETS ITS NAME. THESE ARE THE OUACHITA MOUNTAINS WHICH ARE MOSTLY MADE OF SAND STONE AND. THE WORD IN FRENCH, I'M SURE WE ALL HAVE OUR TRANSLATION DICTIONARIES IN OUR POCKETS THERE. IT MEANS FROM OR HAD. -- OF. DeGRAY MEANS SAND STONE. YOU HAVE TO KICK YOUR LEGS UNTIL YOUR BODY IS LIKE THIS.

AND HOW DID THE ROCK COME HERE?

WHEN THE SOUTH AMERICAN CONTINENT HAD TO GET TO THE NORTH AMERICAN CONTINENT WHAT IS NOW THE GOLD COAST, OVER 65 MILLION YEARS AGO, CAUSED TECTONIC ACTIVITY. KIND OF LIKE WHEN YOU HAVE A TABLE CLOTH AND YOU SQUEEZE BOTH SIDES, YOU GET A RIPPLE AND PULL. THOSE ARE IN THE MOUNTAIN. THEY ORIGINALLY RAN SO FAR EAST THEY MET THE APPALACHIAN MOUNTAINS. THE PEAKS ARE HIGHER THAN THE HIGHEST MOUNTAINS IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. BUT THEY'RE SO OLD THAT TIME WORE THEM DOWN. ♪♪ ♪♪

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE SNORKELING GUIDE TODAY?

I THOUGHT IT WAS EXCELLENT. I TELL YOU, WE'RE SO IMPRESSED WITH ARKANSAS'S PARK SYSTEMS, YOU KNOW, WE'RE FROM TEXAS, AND WE HAVE PARKS. BUT Y'ALLS ARE JUST PRISTINE. WE'RE SO IMPRESSED WITH THIS PARK BECAUSE IT'S LIKE IT LOOKED 30 YEARS AGO. THE TREES AND THE WATER, IT'S JUST LIKE IT LOOKED 30 YEARS AGO.

THEY'VE DONE A WONDERFUL JOB OF CONSERVATION, EXCELLENT. AND LIKE I SAID WITH -- 30 YEARS AGO, THEN 20 YEARS AGO, AND NOW, AND THE GOLF COURSE IS JUST A NICE ONE. WE PLAYED GOLF THIS MORNING. SO, IT'S JUST A WONDERFUL PLACE TO COME VISIT. WE CAN'T WAIT TO COME BACK.

YOU SAY IT LOOKS THE SAME AND A LOT OF IT HAS TO DO WITH FOLKS LIKE YOU THAT -- AND OTHERS THAT, YOU KNOW, WHETHER THEY'RE IN STATE OR OUT OF STATE, THEY COME HERE. THEY APPRECIATE WHAT IS HERE AND THEY TAKE CARE OF ITMENT THEY MAY SURE THERE'S NO TRASH LEFT AND NO -- CONSERVATION OF THE WHOLE AREA.

AND IT REALLY SHOWS. IT SHOWS THAT PEOPLE HAVE SOME PRIDE IN THIS PARK. WE HAVEN'T BEEN TO THE OTHER PARKS, BUT THIS IS THE ONE THAT WE COME TO.

AND WE UNDERSTAND THERE'S 51 OTHERS. WE HOPE TO -- [LAUGHTER]

YEAH, ONE OF THESE DAYS.

IN THE SPORT OF KAYAKING, THERE IS OF COURSE WHITE WATER KAYAKING AND RECREATIONAL KAYAKING. AND NOW IT'S BECOMING MORE POPULAR, KAYAK ANGLING. IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE BECAUSE WITH A KAYAK YOU CAN NOW GET TO ALL THOSE HARD TO GET TO HONEY HOLES... NO PROBLEM. OUR KAYAK FISHING OUTING TOOK US TO THE POPULAR KINGS RIVER BETWEEN EUREKA SPRINGS AND BERRIVILLE. PROFESSIONAL KAYAK ANGLER DREW GREGORY JOINED US WITH US ON THIS DAY AND TALKED ABOUT THE EVOLUTION OF KAYAK FISHING.

YOU KNOW, SOME WOULD SAY IT JUST EVOLVED IN THE LAST 10 YEARS. BUT I THINK THE INUIT AND THE ESKIMOS AND THE TRIBAL PEOPLE WOULD ARGUE WITH THAT A LITTLE BIT. BASICALLY IT'S BECOME MORE POPULAR. URBAN CULTURE AND AMERICAN SOCIETY WHERE WE LIVE, PROBABLY THE LAST 10 YEARS. IT STARTED OUT MOSTLY IN THE SALTWATER AND KIND OF PROGRESSED INTO MORE FRESHWATER NOW BECAUSE AGAIN, IT'S JUST THE BEST TOOL TO ACCESS THE BEAUTIFUL WATERS LIKE WE HAVE HERE IN ARKANSAS.

FOR BAIT, DREW LIKES TO USE A SIMPLE MEDIUM-SIZE RUBBER MINOW WHICH IS DURABLE ENOUGH TO LAST ALL DAY AND THEN SOME.

CHECK THIS OUT. YOU CAN JUST STRETCH IT, ALL DAY LONG YOU CAN FISH WITH ONE. IT LOOKS LIKE AN INJURED MINOW. LOOKS LIKE A HURT, DYING MINOW.

DREW'S EXPERTISE HAS BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN THE DESIGN OF THE LATEST ANGLER FRIENDLY KAYAKS.

WELL, YOU KNOW, I GREW UP FISHING. MY MOM AND DAD BOTH FISHED, GRANDPARENTS FISHED, AND I JUST CAUGHT THE BUG, YOU KNOW. AND THEN STARTED FISHING RIVERS A LOT. WE DIDN'T HAVE A LOT OF MONEY GROWING UP. RIVERS WERE KIND OF MY THING. I FELL IN LOVE WITH THEM. LATER ON DOWN THE ROAD REALIZED I HAD THE BEST TOOL IN KAYAK. STARTED DOING T GOD HAD GIVEN ME THE TALENT TO DO IT. I DIDN'T WANT TO WASTE THOSE TALENTS IN LIFE. I TEAMED UP WITH JACK AFTER STARTING A WEBSITE. KIND OF MAKE A NAME FOR MYSELF IN THE KAYAK FISHING INDUSTRY. GOT A SIGNATURE WATERCRAFT. AND AS YOU CAN SEE, PRETTY STABLE BOAT. YOU CAN STAND TO FISH OUT OF THEM REAL NICE AND EASY. SO, ENJOYABLE, GOOD WAY TO EXPLORE THE OUTDOORS.

I'VE BEEN HEARING A LOT OF, YOU KNOW, MORE AND MORE PEOPLE ARE FINDING ABOUT THE DESIGN OF IT. THEY'RE JUST SAYING, THIS IS WHAT WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR FOR YEARS.

WELL, YOU KNOW, WE SHOULD HAVE THIS GUY. HE'S PADLING BY RIGHT NOW. HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT JACK MANCUSA? THUMBS UP, HE'S GIVING US THE THUMBS UP. IS NICE, VERY NICE. DO WE NEED TO SAY ANYTHING ELSE? [LAUGHTER]

I DON'T KNOW, WE'RE DOING THIS INTERVIEW. WE HAVE SOMEBODY PADDLING BY IN ONE. THE DIFFERENCE IS JUST LIKE WHEN THE FORD MODEL T CAME OUT, THERE WAS ONE TYPE OF VEHICLE. LOOK AT TODAY, WE'VE GOT TRUCKS, WE'VE GOT FOUR WHEEL DRIVE VEHICLES, WE'VE GOT SPORTS CARS. AS THE EVOLUTION OF KAYAK DEVELOPS, YOU'LL HAVE SOME FOR DIFFERENT AREAS. SOME SPECIALIZED MORE FOR SALTWATER, THIS ONE IS SPECIALIZED FOR RIVERS AND SMALLER BODIES OF WATER. THAT'S THE WAY IT'S GOING TO GO. IT'S GREAT. BECAUSE THE WINNERS IN THE END ARE YOU THE CONSUMER.

ALL RIGHT. LET'S CATCH SOME.

LET'S DO IT.

AND IT DIDN'T TAKE LONG FOR DREW TO CATCH A NOT-TOO-SHABBY SIZED SMALL BOUND.

SMALL BY ANY MEANS. PEOPLE TAKE IT. IT'S A BEAUTIFUL FISH. LET IT GO AS FAST AS POSSIBLE. WE WANT TO PROTECT THESE AWESOME RESOURCES IN ARKANSAS HERE. PULL IT OUT, LET IT GO BACK.

TO FURTHER DEMONSTRATE THE STABILITY OF THIS LATEST DESIGN IN FISHING KAYAKS, DREW CONTINUED STANDING UP WHILE GOING OVER RAPIDS. DON'T THINK I'M QUITE THERE YET. MAYBE AFTER A FEW MORE OUTINGS.

> HERE IN HEBER SPRINGS, THERE'S THE SUGAR LOAF MOUNTAIN ON THE LAKE, THEN THERE IS THE OTHER SUGAR LOAF MOUNTAIN ON THE LITTLE RED RIVER ALSO QUITE POPULAR. IN FACT, IT IS A BEEN QUITE POPULAR SINCE NATIVE AMERICAN DAYS. HOW ABOUT WE TAKE A HIKE UP TO THE TOP? SUGAR LOAF MOUNTAIN NUMBER 2 ALONG THE LITTLE RED RIVER IS ACTUALLY THE PROPERTY OF ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY IN HEBER SPRINGS.

A FEW YEARS AGO, ASU STARTED OFFERING CLASSES IN HEBER SPRINGS, AND THEY WANTED TO FIND A PERMANENT HOME. WANTED TO FIND A PLACE FOR A CAMPUS THAT WOULD BE SUITABLE FOR A UNIVERSITY. AND OUR PRESIDENT THEN DR. WHITE ALONG WITH DR. MACKAY AND DIANNE TINER, THREE OF THEM SCOUTED OUT LOCATIONS IN HEBER SPRINGS AND THEY SETTLED ON THE SUGAR LOAF PROPERTY. THEY SAW THE MOUNTAIN, THEY SAW ITS BEAUTY AND INSTANTLY THEY FELL IN LOVE WITH IT. AND THINGS WORKED OUT REALLY WELL FOR THEM TO BE ABLE TO PURCHASE IT FOR THE UNIVERSITY. IT WAS AN INTERESTING -- AN INTERESTING TIME. AND WE HAVE ABOUT 150 ACRES, I BELIEVE, HERE INCLUDING THE MOUNTAIN THAT WE HAVE TO WORK WITH. BUT THE COMMITMENT IS THERE FROM ASU TO KEEP THIS NATURAL, TO KEEP IT BEAUTIFUL JUST THE WAY IT HAS BEEN FOR MANY, MANY YEARS. IN FACT, AS YOU CAN TELL, IT'S IMPROVING, AND WE HAVE A LOT OF GOOD FOLKS TO THANK FOR THAT IMPROVEMENT HERE. THE SUGAR LOAF AREA COUNCIL WITH JOE RATH AND FRANK BARTON, THAT WHOLE GROUP OF PEOPLE COMING TOGETHER IN THE COMMUNITY TO MAKE THIS BETTER IS INCREDIBLE. IT BLOWS MY MIND TO SEE PEOPLE VOLUNTEER, TAKE IT UPON THEMSELVES TO RAISE MONEY, AND TO -- AND TO WORK ON THEIR WEEKENDS AND THEIR DAYS OFF TO MAKE THE MOUNTAIN BEAUTIFUL. IT IMPRESSES ME, YOU KNOW, FOR THE NATURE OF IT, BUT ALSO GIVES OUR STUDENTS A GREAT PLACE TO COME AND STUDY. IT GIVES THEM A GREAT PLACE TO COME AND LEARN. AND IN BETWEEN CLASSES IF THEY WANT TO HIKE THE MOUNTAIN, THEY CAN. OUR STUDENT THIS YEAR THAT SPOKE AT GRADUATION IS FROM WISCONSIN. HE CAME DOWN WITH HIS FAMILY ON A VACATION, DECIDED IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL HERE THAT HE WOULD STAY AND GO TO COLLEGE. AND I CAN'T HELP BUT THINK THIS IS PART OF THE REASON FOR WHAT IS HERE ON SUGAR LOAF MOUNTAIN.

THIS IS KIND OF INTERESTING HERE, DO A LITTLE CREVACKING HERE ON SUGAR LOAF MOUNTAIN.

JOE RATH AND I HAVE BROUGHT OUR KIDS HERE. I WAS BRINGING MY SON JACK UP WHEN HE WAS AN INFANT, BRINGING HIM IN A BACK PACK. IT'S A PLACE WE COME TO A LOT JUST ON A WEEKEND, TO GET AWAY AND SEE THE VIEWS AND SO FORTH. AND THESE ROCK SURFACES WERE COVERED WITH GRAFFITI, AND IT WAS -- SOME OF IT WAS OBSCENE WORDS, BUT IT WAS ALL OBSCENE TO US JUST THAT SOMEBODY WOULD DEFACE A PLACE LIKE THIS. IT WAS TERRIBLY ANNOYING AND JOE AND I TALKED A LOT ABOUT IT. BUT IT JUST SEEMED LIKE IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. IT WAS SUCH A BIG JOB. AND FINALLY ONE DAY, PROBABLY IN ABOUT 2006, JACK AND I WERE UP HERE AND THERE WAS SOME NEW REALLY OBSCENE LANGUAGE THAT HAD BEEN PAINTED ON THE MOUNTAIN. AND HE ASKED ME WHAT THAT MEANT. AND I CALLED JOE AND SAID, WE'VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS, EVEN IF IT'S JUST YOU AND ME COMING UP HERE WITH A WIRE BRUSH, WE'VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. AND HE CALLED DR. TINER, WHO WAS HEAD OF THE UNIVERSITY, THE VICE CHANCELLOR AT THE UNIVERSITY AT THE TIME, AND ENGAGED SOME OTHER CIVIC LEADERS AND PEOPLE JUST STARTED COMING OUT OF THE WOODWORK, AND WE FORMED THE SUGAR LOAF HERITAGE COUNCIL FOR THE PURPOSE OF, ONE, REMOVING THE GRAFFITI AND RESTORING THE MOUNTAIN TO ITS NATURAL STATE. AND ALSO THE TRAIL THAT'S BEEN HERE SINCE PROBABLY PRE-HISTORIC TIMES, THE TRADITIONAL TRAIL WAS BADLY ERODED. AND SO, OUR NEXT PROJECT WHICH IS UNDERWAY NOW WAS TO MAKE THE TRAIL PASSABLE AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE EROSION AND MAKE IT WHERE IT'S EASIER FOR PEOPLE TO GET UP HERE, AND LESS DESTRUCTIVE TO THE MOUNTAIN.

TELL US ABOUT, THROUGH ORAL HISTORY, WHAT HAS BEEN TOLD ABOUT INHABITANTS HERE.

WELL, OF COURSE, LIKE MOST NATIVE AMERICANS, THEY DIDN'T HAVE A WRITTEN LANGUAGE OR HISTORY. BUT I'VE READ, YOU KNOW, IN SOME PIONEER JOURNALS, SO FORTH, TALKING ABOUT ENCOUNTERING NATIVE AMERICANS WHEN THEY -- WHEN THE EXPLORERS AND EARLY SETTLORS FIRST CAME INTO THIS AREA. IT'S OBVIOUS THAT THE RED RIVER VALLEY, THE LITTLE RED RIVER VALLEY WAS HEAVILY POPULATED. YOU FIND -- YOU FIND ARTIFACTS ALL OVER THE PLACE. WE REGULARLY FIND EVACULITE CHIPS UP HERE IN THIS ROCK. AS FAR AS I KNOW, IT DOESN'T OCCUR NATURALLY HERE. IT WAS PROBABLY TRADE GOODS AND BROUGHT IN FROM DOWN AROUND HOT SPRINGS. BUT THE PEOPLE AROUND HERE USED IT TO MAKE TOOLS. AND YOU FIND THIS ALL UP AND DOWN THE RIVER VALLEY AND THE ALLUVIAL SOIL ANY TIME IT RAINS OR SOMEBODY PLOWS UP A GARDEN, YOU FIND CHIPS OR ARROW HEADS, OR ARROW HEAD PARTS, TO A PART AND SO FORTH. SO, IT'S OBVIOUS IT WAS MAYBE MORE HEAVILY POPULATED THEN THAN IT IS NOW.

SUGAR LOAF'S ELEVATION IS 690 FEET ABOVE THE LITTLE RED RIVER VALLEY AND IS BASICALLY AN EROSIONAL REMNANT. THE EARLIEST SETTLORS CALLED IT SUGAR LOAF BECAUSE OF ITS RESEMBLANCE IN SHAPE TO LOAVES OF UNREFINED SUGAR THAT WERE IN USE AT THE TIME. CLIMBING SUGAR LOAF HAS BEEN A POPULAR PASS TIME FOR GENERATIONS OF HEBER SPRINGS RESIDENTS AND OTHERS IN SURROUNDING AREAS.

FIRST TIME I CLIMBED SUGAR LOAF I WAS KIND OF SCARED OF THE PART WHERE YOU HAVE TO PUT -- THERE'S ONLY ONE FOOTHOLD AND YOU HAVE TO GET UP.

THROUGH THAT CREVICE?

YEAH, I WAS REALLY SCARED. MY FIRST TIME UP HERE WAS WHEN I WAS LIKE 5 MONTHS OLD. MY DAD HAD THIS BACK PACK AND HE PUT ME IN IT, HE'D FLY FISH WITH ME IN IT. HE'D JUST STICK ME IN IT. ONCE I WAS OLD ENOUGH TO WALK MAYBE 3 OR SO, HE WOULD JUST -- I WAS ALWAYS A LITTLE BIT FREAKED OUT ABOUT THAT CREVICE PART. BUT SOME DAYS I WOULD DO IT AND SOME DAYS I WOULDN'T. SO, MY DAD WOULD JUST PROBABLY -- I'D GET MY FOOT ACROSS THERE AND HE'D PUSH ME UP SO I DON'T HAVE TO GET MY HANDS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF IT BECAUSE I -- MY ARMS WEREN'T LONG ENOUGH TO DO THAT. SO, I HAD A LITTLE BIT OF TROUBLE WITH THAT WHEN I WAS LITTLE. BUT I KIND OF LIKE COMING UP HERE WHEN I WAS LITTLE. I WOULD ALWAYS ASK MY DAD AFTER HE GOT BACK FROM WORK, WHEN HE WORKED IN LITTLE ROCK, TO TAKE A HIKE. HE WAS ALWAYS LIKE -- DAD, CAN WE GO CLIMB SUGAR LOAF BEFORE WE GO HOME? WHEN I WAS LIKE FOUR, AND I COULD BARELY TALK, BUT HE COULD UNDERSTAND THAT I WANTED TO COME UP HERE. SO, WE DID IT A LOT IN THE FREE TIME.

IT'S USED PROPERTY, BUT IT'S NOT IN THEIR CHARTER TO MAINTAIN A MOUNTAIN. THEY'RE AN EDUCATIONAL GROUP. SO, THE COMMUNITIES REALLY JUMPED IN TO HELP AND WE PUT A LOT OF LABOR IN TO GET THE MOUNTAIN TO WHERE IT IS NOW. AND WE HAVE A LOT OF PLANS -- WE DEVELOPED ANOTHER TRAIL OUT HERE, AND WE HAVE PLANS FOR MORE TRAIL. THIS IS JUST A SPECIAL PLACE AND IT'S KNOWN ALL THROUGH THE STATE. AND EVEN WE HAD PEOPLE FROM ILLINOIS HERE THIS MORNING. SO, IT'S WELL KNOWN, WELL USED, AND SOMETHING THAT THE REGION IS REALLY PROUD OF. AND WE NEED TO KEEP IT UP, KEEP IT IN GOOD SHAPE. ♪♪ ♪♪

THIS IS GRAND CYPRESS NATURAL AREA WHICH IS A PART OF THE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA. AND THIS IS THE CYPRESS TUPELO SWAMP. IT'S REALLY AN OXVILLE LAKES, FORMED WHEN RIVER SILT IN. IT'S BASICALLY A BIG CURVED LAKE AND IT'S FULL OF CYPRESS AND TUPELO TREES WHICH ARE UNIQUELY ADAPTED AND THEY'VE EVOLVED TO LIVE IN THIS ENVIRONMENT. WETLAND AND SWAMPY ENVIRONMENTS ARE NOT REAL HOSE PITABLE FOR TREES AND OTHER CREATURES. THESE TREES WHEN YOU LOOK AT THEM ARE BUTTRESS AT THE BOTTOM, THEY'RE WIDER AT THE BOTTOM. CYPRESS TREES HAVE KNEES WHICH SUPPORTS THEM IN THE WATERY WORLD THEY LIVE IN. AND PART OF THAT ALSO MAY BE FOR GAS EXCHANGE, BASICALLY TO HELP THE TREES BREATHE THAT LIVE OUT HERE.

WATCHABLE WILDLIFE COORDINATOR KIRSTEN BARTLOW WITH THE GAME AND FISH COMMISSION JOINED US IN OUR PICTURESQUE OUTING TO THE GRAND CYPRESS NATURAL AREA NEAR STUTTGART.

IN THIS MIDDLE SECTION IT MUST BE DEEPER. BUT IT'S VERY PRIME EVIL FEELING. FEELS LIKE WE'RE STEPPING BACK IN TIME. I'M LOOKING FOR DINOSAURS. [LAUGHTER]

IT REALLY IS SOMETHING ELSE. I MEAN, AND I DON'T KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE VENTURE BACK IN HERE, BUT I GUESS BY CANOE OR KAYAK IS THE WAY TO DO IT OBVIOUSLY.

IT IS. THIS DOESN'T ALWAYS HOLD THIS MUCH WATER, SO SEASONALLY YOU NEED TO CHECK IT OUT. WHEN THERE'S ENOUGH WATER TO GET BACK IN HERE, AND YOU MIGHT WANT TO THINK ABOUT MOSQUITOES AND THINGS LIKE THAT. THIS WATERY ENVIRONMENT IS DEFINITELY HOME TO THEM. THESE ARE REALLY SPECIAL PLACES. YOU CAN SEE SOME NEAT WILDLIFE IN HERE. A LOT OF THE BIRDS WE'RE HEARING NOW ARE UP IN THE TREE TOPS. THAT'S WHERE THERE'S HABITAT FOR THEM. IF YOU LOOK AROUND BELOW US, THERE'S NO UNDER STORY, BECAUSE THE TREES ARE TAKING UP ALL THE SUNLIGHT. BUT ANY KIND OF REPTILE IS GOING TO LOVE THIS AREA. SO, IF YOU'RE INTO SNAKES AND TURTLES AND FROGS, DEFINITELY A NEAT PLACE TO BE. AQUATIC MAMMALS, BEAVER AND OTTER AND MINK YOU CAN SEE IN THIS AREA.

I GUESS THAT'S WHY IT'S A DESIGNATED NATURAL AREA. PLACES LIKE THIS ARE -- ANY MORE IN THIS DAY AND AGE, FAR AND FEW BETWEEN.

YOU JUST DON'T SEE OLD STANDS OF CYPRESS TREES. THEY WERE BUILT -- USED TO BUILD ANTE BELLAM HOMES. THE HARDWOOD OF THE CYPRESS TREE WAS KNOWN FOR BEING STRONG. THEY BUILT HOUSES WITH THEM, THEY BUILT BOXES WITH THEM. AND A REALLY NEAT PIECE OF TRIVIA, HENRY FORD WOULD BUY SPANISH MOSS FROM FLORIDA. THEY WOULD BOX IT IN CYPRESS WOOD. WHAT HE REALLY WANTED WAS THE CYPRESS WOOD. HE USED THAT ON THE SIDE PANELS OF THE CARS AND THE DASHBOARD. HE GOT THE BOXES FREE AND USED THOSE IN BUILDING HIS CARS.

> YOU KNOW, THESE WETLANDS ARE CENTERS FOR POLLUTANTS. THEY HELP KEEP OUR ENVIRONMENT HEALTHY. AND THEY REALLY NEED TO BE PROTECTED. WE'RE DOWN TO HALF. YOU KNOW, SOME PARTS OF THE SOUTHEAST, THERE IS A REAL ECONOMIC FACTOR TO WETLAND AREAS LIKE THIS. THERE CAN BE SELECTED TIMBER HARVEST. PEOPLE CATCH CRAW FISH DOWN CLOSER TO THE COAST, SHRIMP. ECO-TOURISM, WE'RE HERE. THIS IS A GREAT PLACE TO SEE WILDLIFE AND BIRD AND PADDLE. SO, WETLANDS HAVE A LOT OF IMPORTANCE TO US ECOLOGICALLY, ECONOMICALLY.

TO GET TO THE GRAND CYPRESS NATURAL AREA IN THE BAYOU METO WILDLIFE AREA, FROM 152 TAKE THE ROAD SOUTH PAST THE WATERFOWL REST AREA, THEN IT BECOMES COX CYPRESS ROAD. THEN TURN RIGHT ONTO CYPRESS LAKE ROAD AND GO TO THE VERY LAST CAMPING SITE WHICH IS THE PUT-IN AREA BEFORE THE ROAD VEERS OFF TO THE RIGHT.

IT'S REALLY SPECIAL TO SEE AN AREA LIKE THIS. I GUESS THE EARLY EXPLORERS SAW IT.

RIGHT. I CAN'T IMAGINE, THEY DIDN'T HAVE WOODS OFF, AND MY SPECIAL THERMOS HERE. I'M NOT SURE I WOULD HAVE KEPT EXPLORING IF I WERE THEM. I MIGHT HAVE GONE BACK TO THE MOTHER LAND.

SO, GRAB YOURSELF A CANOE OR KAYAK AND HEAD OUT INTO THE GRAND CYPRESS NATURAL AREA HERE AT BAYOU METO WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA AT STUTTGART. TO ORDER THIS DESTINATION OR A COPY, VISIT OUR WEBSITE, AETN.ORG/EXPLORING ARKANSAS. WE'LL SEE YOU NEXT TIME FOR ANOTHER EXCITING ADVENTURE ON EXPLORING ARKANSAS. WHICH WAY DID I COME IN HERE?

DIVE, DIVE. ♪♪ ♪♪

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