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Exploring Arkansas February 2009

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Lake Dardanelle Eagles, Big Lake National Wildlife Reserve, Mammoth Spring
Braving winter's cold temps in a kayak one is rewarded by magnificent sights of Bald Eagles on Lake Dardanelle near Russellville. Speaking of eagles… Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Arkansas was instrumental in the recovery of the bald eagle from its endangered status.We take you on an airboat and driving tour of this tucked away refuge along the Mississippi Delta. Mammoth Spring near the Missouri state line is not only the largest spring in the state, but the tenth largest in the world!

TRANSCRIPT

LAKE DARDANELLE NEAR RUSSELLVILLE HAS RECEIVED NATIONAL ATTENTION IN THE PAST AS BEING ONE OF THE MAJOR BASS FISHING TOURNAMENT SITES BUT DURING THE WINTER MONTHS THE ATTENTION HERE IS ON THE BALD EAGLES AND IT'S WHERE WE'LL BEGIN THIS WEEK'S SHOW AND THEN WE'LL TAKE YOU TO BIG LAKE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE NEAR MANILA AS WE GO FROM KAYAK TO AIR BOAT AND TOUR THAT LAKE AND WE'LL CONCLUDE THIS PARTICULAR EPISODE NEAR MAMMOTH SPRING NEAR THE MISSOURI STATE LINE AS WE SHOW YOU THE TENTH LARGEST SPRING IN THE WORLD SO RIGHT NOW LET'S DO SOME KAYAKING WITH SASHA BOWLES AND EXPLORE LAKE DARDANELLE CAP MRU  [MUSIC]. 

MANY INTERPRETIVE PROGRAMS ARE OFFERED AT LAKE DARDANELLE STATE PARK WITH ONE OF THEM BEING THE KAYAK TOURS. 

SEE WHERE THE LOG IS LAYING OFF IN THE WATER? CAN YOU SEE THE TREE THAT'S LAYING IN THE WATER? YOU GO STRAIGHT UP IN THOSE PINE TREES KIND OF THAT MIDDLE PINE TREE THERE'S A BIG CLUMP OF SIX UP THERE. WELL, I'VE WORKED AT LAKE DARDANELLE STATE PARK FOR ABOUT FOUR YEARS NOW. AND WE'VE HAD EAGLE NESTS OUT HERE EVERY YEAR. WE HAVE A PAIR THAT NESTS HERE ON A REGULAR BASIS AND OF COURSE WE GET ALL OF THE MIGRATES IN THE WINTERTIME SO WE ALWAYS HAVE LOTS OF FUN IN THE WINTER SEEING ALL OF THE EXTRA EAGLES AND USUALLY DURING THE SEASON THEY ARE STILL HANGING OUT FROM THE PREVIOUS NESTING SO WE GET TO SEE LOTS OF INTERESTING SIGHTINGS. WE'VE SEEN A FEW OF THEM GRAPPLING THIS YEAR SO THAT'S PRETTY EXCITING WE DON'T USUALLY GET TO SEE THAT ON A REGULAR BASIS. 

GRAPPLING. 

THAT'S WHEN THEY ARE COUR COURTING AND FLY UP AND GRAB EACH OTHER'S TAL LONS AND FLY DOWN. 

THAT WOULD BE A SIGHT TO SEE. 

IT'S PRETTY INTERESTING. 

AS FAR AS LIKE AVERAGE NUMBER SAY DURING THE WINTER MONTHS FOLKS FROM OUT HERE, HOW MANY EAGLES DO YOU THINK THEY CAN SEE? 

A REALLY GREAT BOAT TOUR YOU'LL SEE ABOUT FIVE. AN AVERAGE BOAT TOUR YOU'LL SEE ONE OR TWO. SO WE USUALLY IN THE WINTERTIME WE ALWAYS SEE AT LEAST ONE PRETTY MUCH ALMOST EVERY TIME. AS SOON AS I SAY ALWAYS WE WON'T SEE ANYTHING BUT YOU CAN USUALLY SEE AT LEAST ONE. AND ON A REALLY GOOD DAY YOU'LL SEE FIVE. WE'VE SEEN UP TO SEVEN. 

YEAH. AND I GUESS THE WAY WE'RE DOING IT NOW IN A KAYAK IS A GOOD WAY TO KIND OF EASE UP ON THEM AND NOT TO -- 

WELL, THE BOAT USUALLY CAN EASE UP ON THEM PRETTY GOOD. OUR TOUR BOAT IS PRETTY QUIET SO WE CAN KIND OF EASE UP ON THERE ON THEM FAIRLY QUIETLY AND THEY ARE FAIRLY USE TO THE BOAT TRAFFIC AROUND HERE SO WE DON'T STARTLE THEM TOO MUCH BUT ANY TIME YOU CAN GET IN A KAYAK TO GO SEE BIRDS YOU CAN PRETTY MUCH GUARANTEE YOU'LL SEE MORE THAN IN A BOAT. 

OF COURSE. SO FOLKS MAY NOT WANT TO VEN YOU'RE OUT ON A -- VENTURE OUT ON A KAYAK WHEN IT'S COLD. 

IT'S PRETTY COLD IN A KAYAK DURING THE EAGLE SEASON BUT DRESS APPROPRIATELY AND TAKE THE RIGHT PRECAUTIONS IT'S THE SAME AS THE SUMMERTIME. AND IT'S FUN. 

THAT'S TRUE. I THINK I WOULD RATHER BE OUT HERE AT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR THAN WHEN IT'S BLAZING HOT AND 100 DEGREES. 

WELL YEAH AND YOU KNOW THERE'S LESS BUGS AND A LOT LESS BOAT TRAFFIC, TOO. SO IT'S A LITTLE SAFER IN A KAYAK AS FAR AS BOAT TRAFFIC EVEN IF IT IS A LITTLE COOLER. 

IT'S A NICE KAYAK. 

BESIDES THE EAGLES THE WINTER MONTHS DO BRING IN A A LOT OF WATER FOWL AND BIRDS. 

THERE ARE OS PRAY. THEY USUALLY -- OS PREY WE HAVE BALD EAGLES AND WHITE PELICANS. WE HAVE A BIG INFLUX IN THE WINTERTIME WE HAVE GREAT BLUE HERRONS ALL OVER THE PLACE. 

THEY ARE AROUND HERE. 

THEY ARE ALWAYS FUN TO SEE. 

YEAH,  THE GREAT BLUE HERRONS WE CAN SPOT ONE OR TWO -- 

WE USUALLY HAVE QUITE A FEW SITTING ALONG THE BANK THEY HAVE A PRETTY HEALTHY FISHERY TO CHOOSE FROM SO THEY GET PLENTY OF EAT. THEY ARE USUALLY HIDING OUT IN THE LOGS. 

YOU CAN KIND OF SEE THE NEW NESTS FROM HERE. DO YOU SEE THE END OF THE BOAT DOCK? 

YEAH. 

IF YOU GO STRAIGHT UP THAT PINE TREE, YOU CAN KIND OF SEE A DARK BLOCK. ALMOST TO THE TOP. 

IF ALL OF THE SCENERY AND WILDLIFE OUT ON THE LAKE ISN'T ENOUGH FOR YOU THEN INSIDE THE VISITOR'S CENTER ARE 7,000 GALLONS WORTH OF FRESH WATER AQUARIUMS WHERE YOU CAN GET A CLOSER LOOK OF ALL OF THE THINGS YOU'VE BEEN KAYAKING OVER. 

THERE ARE ALSO THREE SELF GUIDED KAYAK TOURS THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO EXPLORE THE LAKE DARDANELLE AREA IN WHICH A BROCHURE EXPLAINS THE AREA'S PAST,  PRESENT AND FUTURE. 

I GUESS WE'LL GO RIGHT ON UP HERE TO THIS LAST LITTLE TREE AND SEE IF WE SEE ANYTHING UP THERE. 

OKAY.  [MUSIC]   . 

BIG LAKE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE IN THE NORTHEAST CORNER OF THE STATE IS RECOGNIZED AS AN IMPORTANT LINK ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI MIGRATORY CORRIDOR IN REFUGE PLAYS AN -- PLAYED AN INSTRUMENTAL ROLE FOR THE BALD EAGLE. THEY HAVE BEEN RAISING THEIR YOUNG HERE ON AN ANNUAL BASIS SINCE 1993. DURING THE WINTER MONTHS PEAK NUMBERS OF WATER F OWL CAN EXCEED 50,000 SO LET'S GO ON A TOUR OF BIG LAKE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE.  [MUSIC]. 

WE TEAMED UP WITH REFUGE MANAGER JEREMY BENNET FOR A TOUR OF BIG LAKE ON AN AIR BOAT WHICH IS QUITE AN IDEAL WAY TO GET AROUND ON THE SHALLOW, GRASSY AND SWAMPY LAKE. 

TO DO THE WORK WE NEED TO DO,  THIS IS ONE OF THE TOOLS THAT WE USE. THE LAKE HAS A LOT OF SHALLOW, SHALLOW AREAS HEAVILY VEGETATED. AND THIS IS REALLY THE ONLY WAY TO GO. UNFORTUNATELY THIS IS SOMETHING THAT'S UTILIZED BY THE SERVICE FOR WORK. BUT THIS TOOL IS NOT ALLOWED FOR THE PUBLIC TO USE IT FOR WATER FOWL FOR WILDLIFE, THINGS LIKE THAT. 

BIG LAKE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE IS ONE OF THE NATION'S OLDEST REFUGES HAVING BEEN ESTABLISHED IN 1915 THROUGH AN EXECUTIVE ORDER THROUGH PRESIDENT WOODROW WILSON AS A RESERVE AND BREEDING GROUNDS FOR NATIVE BIRDS. LOCATED 35 MILES EAST OF JONES BORROW OR TWO MILES EAST OF MANILA BIG LAKE IS SITUATED ALONG THE NORTHERN TIER OF THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA REGION. 

WE'RE COMPLETELY SURROUNDED BY INTENSIVE AGRICULTURE LAND AND MOST PEOPLE CAN'T IMAGINE THE SIZE AND THE VASTNESS OF THIS SWAMP LAND RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF COTTON COUNTRY. 

BIG LAKE IS ACTUALLY ADJACENT TO THE BOOT HILL OF MISSISSIPPI. 

MISSISSIPPI BOOT HILL ACTUALLY DRAINS. ALL OF THE AGRICULTURE, LAND AND THEY HAVE AN EXTENSIVE DRAINAGE SYSTEM OF DITCHES AND ALL OF THAT DRAINS SOUTHEAST MISSOURI, THE BOOT HILL AND IT DRAINS ACTUALLY IN AND AROUND MISSOURI, THE BOOT HILL AND IT DRAINS ACTUALLY IN AND AROUND BIG LAKE. 

HUNTING IS OF COURSE NOT ALLOWED ON THE REFUGE BUT IS ALLOWED NEXT DOOR IN THE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA WITH A DUCK HUNTER'S NO. 1 PREFERENCE BEING QUITE ABUNDANT. 

PREDOMINANTLY 90% MALLARD BUT WE HAVE NORTHERN PIN TAIL, NORTHERN SHOVELERS WE HAVE CANADA GEESE WE PICKED UP A FEW OF THOSE THIS LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS. WE'VE GOT SOME DIVING DUCKS MOST IMPORTANTLY CAMUCK'S BACK WHICH IS AN IMPORTANT DUCK WHICH IS A SPECIES OF CONCERN. THEY LIKE THE LARGER OPEN WATER AREAS. WHICH THERE'S NOT MANY OF THOSE AREAS IN NORTHEAST ARKANSAS. 

THE PEAK PERIOD FOR OBSERVING WATER FOWL HERE IS IN THE DEAD OF WINTER. 

STARTING IN DECEMBER IS PROBABLY OUR PEAK NUMBERS AND THEN WE'LL CARRY ON INTO JANUARY AND BASICALLY WE'LL HOLD LARGE NUMBERS OF WATER FOWL UNTIL ICE FREEZES THE LAKE UP. ONCE THE LAKE IS PRETTY WELL FROZEN OVER THE BIRDS HAVE TO MOVE SOUTH SO WE HOLD LARGE NUMBERS UNTIL THAT HAPPENS. 

MORE THAN 225 DIFFERENT SPECIES OF BIRDS HAVE BEEN OBSERVED ON THE REFUGE. AND RECORDED SINCE 1915. INCLUDING BALD EAGLES, HAVING A NEST LOCATED ON THE LAKE.   . 

THE NEW MADRID EARTHQUAKES OF 1811 AND 18 12 CHANGED THE BIG LAKE AREA FROM A FREE FLOWING RIVER SYSTEM TO A SWAMP ENVIRONMENT. BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO HAVE AN AIR BOAT TO GET AROUND. 

THERE'S ACTUALLY SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY. MOST VISITORS COME BY VEHICLE. AND THERE'S SOME WONDERFUL WILDLIFE VIEWING OPPORTUNITIES ALONG SOME RHODES THAT WE MAINTAIN. -- ALONG SOME ROADS THAT WE MAINTAIN SO YOU CAN VIEW WILDLIFE STRAIGHT FROM YOUR CAR WINDOW AND IN THE WINTERTIME THAT'S A REALLY GOOD OPPORTUNITY TO ENJOY WHAT WE HAVE TO OFFER IN THE COMFORTS OF YOUR VEHICLE. SO THERE ARE ROADSIDE VIEWING OPPORTUNITIES. WE HAVE SOME MARKED WALKING TRAILS TO OBSERVE WILDLIFE ALONG FOUR DIFFERENT WALKING PATHS WE HAVE. IF YOU BRING A BOAT, DEPENDING ON THE TIME OF YEAR, MOST OF THE LAKE AS A WATER SANCTUARY IN THE WINTERTIME SO A LARGE PORTION OF THE LAKE IS CLOSED TO BOATERS WHEN THE LARGEST CONCENTRATION OF WATER FOWL ARE HERE SO THEY ARE NOT DISTURBED BUT IN THE SUMMERTIME YOU CAN ENJOY THE BOAT AND ENJOY LARGE FLOODED CYPRESSES ON THE LAKE WE HAVE A LARGE WOODED AREA PRETTY UNIQUE TO NORTHEAST ARKANSAS VIRGIN CYPRESS TREES. 

THE WAY IT WAS HERE YEARS AGO. 

ABSOLUTELY. IT'S REALLY THE ONLY UNTOUCHED PORTION OF THE REFUGE IT'S ABOUT 2600 ACRES AND BASICALLY IT'S UNDISTURBED IT'S AN AREA OF PEACE AND SOLITUDE. 

SO IF IT'S PEACE AND SOLITUDE YOU'RE SEEKING,  I STRONGLY RECOMMEND BIG LAKE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE IN NORTHEAST ARKANSAS. YOU'LL LEAVE A CHANGED PERSON WITH A GREATER APPRECIATION FOR WHAT THE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE SYSTEM OFFERS US IN AMERICA.  [MUSIC]  [MUSIC]. 

IT'S ONE OF THE GREAT NATURAL WONDERS IN MIDAMERICA. MAMMOTH SPRINGS NORTH OF HARDY JUST SOUTH OF THE MISSOURI STATE LINE. IT'S ACTUALLY THE TENTH LARGEST SPRING IN THE WORLD. AND DEFINITELY THE LARGEST ONE IN ARKANSAS. THIS DAM FORMS THE SPRING RIVER FAMOUS FOR ITS RAINBOW TROUT AND ONCE AGAIN I FORGOT TO BRING MY FISHING POLE.  [MUSIC]   . 

THE ACTUAL MAMMOTH SPRING CANNOT BE SPRING BECAUSE IT EMERGES MORE THAN 80 FEET BELOW THE WATER LEVEL OF THE SPRING POOL. NEARLY 10 MILLION GALLONS OF WATER PER HOUR ARE DISCHARGE DISCOVERY CHARGED FROM THIS SPRING WHICH RIGHTLY EARNED THE TITLE AS A NATIONAL NATURAL LANDMARK ALL THIS FORMS TEN ACRES SPRING LAKE. HERE YOU'LL FIND ALL SORTS OF PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES WITH THE DUCKS AND GEESE ON THE LAKE DURING THEIR WINTER MIGRATION. 

THE DAM ONCE PROVIDED POWER FOR A MILL AND HYDRO ELECTRIC POWER A WALK AT THE TOP OF THE DAM OFFERS AN EXCELLENT VIEW OF THE SPILLWAY AND ALL OF THE WATER FLOWING DOWN FORMING THE SPRING RIVER. BUT MAMMOTH SPRING ITSELF IS JUST FOR STARTERS HERE AT THIS STATE PARK. THE RAILROAD PASSENGER SERVICE IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE TO MAMMOTH SPRING THE 1886  FRESCO DEPOT STILL STANDS IT OFFERS A HANDS ON EXPERIENCE INTO THE BIGONE DAYS OF THE IRON HORSE AND THE GOLDEN AGE OF RAILROAD TRAVEL. 

THIS IS TRAIN STATION AGENT JOSEPH IS A MAN WITH MULTIPLE DUTIES TO PERFORM. HE SELLS TICKETS, KEEPS THE BOOKS. 

THE RAILWAY BECAME VERY IMPORTANT TO THE GROWTH OF MA MOTH SPRING ESPECIALLY FOR THE LOCAL FARMERS AS IT PROVIDED NOT ONLY PASSENGER BUT CARGO SERVICE,  AS WELL. A FRISCO CAN A BOOS NEXT TO THE DEPOT IS AVAILABLE FOR TOURS SINCE DEPOTS HAVE GONE BY THE WAYSIDE. 

ADJACENT SO THE PARK IS ALSO THE MA MOTH SPRING NATURAL FISH HATCHERY ESTABLISHED? 1903  IT'S ONE OF THE OLDEST IN THE NATION FISH ARE STOCKED TO SUPPORT FISH RESPONSIBILITIES LOCATING A FISH HATCHERY HERE OF COURSE MADE PERFECT SENSE WITH THE WATER FROM MAMMOTH SPRING BEING A CONSTANT 58 DEGREES AND NATURALLY HIGH DISSOLVED OXYGEN CONTENT MAKING IT IDEAL FOR FISH CULTURE.  [MUSIC]   . 

THIS FISH HATCHERY ALSO PLAYS A VERY IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE RECOVERY OF ENDANGERED AND THREATENED SPECIES SUCH AS THE PADDLE FISH,AL GARRETT SNAPPING TURTLE AND -- ALLIGATOR SNAPPING TURTLE AND THE ENDANGERED MUSCLE SHELL POPULATIONS PRODUCING ABOUT 5,000 FRESH MUSSELS PER YEAR FOR RESEARCH AND SUPPLEMENTAL STOCKING. MAMMOTH SPRING, THE SPRING ALONE IS WORTH THE TRIP UP HERE. AND ALL THE REST MAKES IT EVEN MORE WORTHWHILE.  [MUSIC]   . 

SO CHECK OUT ALL THERE IS TO SEE AND DO HERE AT MA MOTH SPRING STATE PARK NEAR HARDY AND FOR MORE ON THIS DESTINATION PLUS MANY OTHERS OR TO VIEW OUR MAPS OR TO ORDER A COPY OF OUR EPISODE VISIT OUR WEB SITE AETN.ORG/"EXPLORING ARKANSAS" AND WE'LL SEE YOU AGAIN THE NEXT TIME FOR ANOTHER EXCITING ADVENTURE ON "EXPLORING ARKANSAS".  [MUSIC]

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