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Exploring Arkansas February 2011

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Cossatot River State Park, War Eagle Trail, Shaddox Hollow Nature Trail, Frog Bayou
The Cossatot River in southwest Arkansas has always been popular with whitewater kayakers, but it's also a river for all seasons..for everyone. The War Eagle Trail north of Huntsville offers spectacular vistas of War Eagle Creek. The Shaddox Hollow Nature Trail at Arkansas' largest state park-Hobbs, is an excellent trail for school children and beginning hikers. Frog Bayou Wildlife Management Area near Ft. Smith is a prime example of wetland restoration, attracting a variety of waterfowl.

TRANSCRIPT

FOR 350 MILLION YEARS, THE COSSATOT RIVER HAS CUT ITS WAY THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS IN WEST ARKANSAS.  EARLY INDIANS APPROPRIATELY REFERRED TO IT AS THE SKULL CRUSHER AND IT'S WHERE WE BEGIN THIS WEEK'S EPISODE.  FOR MANY YEARS THE COSSATOT RIVER HAS GIVEN MANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR FLOATERS, BUT THIS RIVER IS ALSO ENJOYED BY MANY OTHER FOLKS FROM HIKERS TO CAMPERS TO PHOTOGRAPHERS AND THE LIKE.  IN 1992, CONGRESS DESIGNATED THE COSSATOT AS A NATIONAL WILD AND SCENIC RIVER.  IT'S BEEN DESCRIBED AS ONE OF THE MOST KHAL LEFRPLGING WHITE WATER STREAMS IN THE CENTRAL U.S..  THE COSSATOT REALLY SUSPECT JUST FOR WHITE WATER ENTHUSIASTS, IT'S FOR EVERYONE FOR ALL SEASONS.  ONE OF THE THINGS IN THE SUMMER SEASON, OBVIOUSLY WE'RE STANDING HERE, YOU CAN SEE HOW CLEAR THE WATER IS.  WELL, IT'S GREAT FOR SWIMMING, SNORKELING, THOSE KIND OF ACTIVITIES.  ONE OF THE THINGS WE STARTED IN THE LAST COUPLE YEARS WE'LL ACTUALLY, WHEN THE RIVER LEVEL IS LOWER LIKE IT IS TODAY, WE'LL TAKE PEOPLE DOWN ON KAYAKS ON THE LAST 5 MILES, THERE'S A TAKE-OUT POINT HERE AND WE DO FISHING TOURS, FISH FOR SMALL MOULGT OR JUST RECREATIONAL FLOAT WHERE THEY CAN JUST ENJOY THE SCENERY AND IT'S NOT LIKE IT IS WHEN WE'VE GOT A LOT OF HIGHER FLOWS.  WE'RE STANDING NOW, THIS IS THE TERMINUS OF THE RIVER CORRIDOR TRAIL WHICH IS A TRAIL WE'RE ALMOST THIS WINTER IS 14 1/2 MILES LONG, IT'S A WONDERFUL WAY TO SEE THE RIVER CORRIDOR.  IT JUST KIND OF PARALLELS THE RIVER FOR THE ENTIRE DISTANCE THERE.  AND IT'S LIKE THE RIVER, IT'S FOR ALL SEASONS, NOT A BAD SEASON TO BE ON THIS TRAIL, IT'S ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC. 

AND FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS, I MEAN THIS IS, I MEAN, AN EXCELLENT LOCATION.  ANY TIME OF THE YEAR, I GUESS. 

YES, WE HAVE PHOTOGRAPHERS THAT ARE HERE -- ONE OF THE REALLY FOCAL POINTS, INTERESTING ENOUGH, THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE PARK IS COSSATOT FALLS AND IT'S ONE OF THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED SECTIONS OF THE RIVER WITH THE CASCADING WATER AND THE ROCK FORMATIONS, THEY ARE KIND OF SCULPTURE SO WE HAVE A LOT OF PHOTOGRAPHERS THAT COME HERE TO VISIT THIS AREA JUST FOR THE VIEWSCAPE AND THE SCENERY. 

THE COSSATOT FALLS AREA IS A PRIMO DESTINATION WITH MANY VISITORS.  THESE FALLS ARE A SERIES OF 6 ROCKY RAPIDS AND AT MAXIMUM FLOW DURING THE WET SEASON, THIS IS WHERE THE SKULL CRUSHER TERM APPLIES.  THE RAPIDS COME WITHFITTING NAMES LIKE EYE OPENER, WASHING MACHINE AND WHIPLASH AND FOR THE INEXPERIENCED OR ILL-EQUIPED, A FEW HAVE MET THEIR FATE HERE.  IN EARLIER DAYS A MILL WAS LOCATED NEAR THESE FALLS WHICH USED A WATER TURBINE SYSTEM TO GRIND CORN.  ANOTHER POPULAR LOCATION ALONG THE COSSATOT IS PROBABLY THE BRUSHY CREEK ACCESS AREA ALONG HIGHWAY 246 NORTH OF THE FALLS.  THE BRUSHY CREEK ACCESS, AGAIN, THAT'S WHERE THE RIVER CORRIDOR TRAIL BEGINS.  THERE'S ALSO A NATURE TRAIL THERE AND A PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE THAT AFFORDS PEOPLE TO GO OUT AND GET A SAFE VIEW OF THE RIVER THERE.  IT'S ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR SWIMMING HOLES ON THE RIVER AND SO THERE'S A NICE LITTLE DAY USE PICNIC AREA THERE THAT AFFORDS THE PUBLIC TO USE THAT, IT'S REALLY EXTENSIVELY USED MEMORIAL DAY THROUGH LABOR DAY BUT AGAIN, AS YOU SAID, THERE'S NO BAD TIME TO BE THERE. 

THE PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE AT THE BRUSHY CREEK ACCESS AREA IS BARRIER FREE INDEED OFFERING EVERYONE SUPERB VIEWS OF THIS SCENIC RIVER.  THE 16,000 SQUARE FOOT VISITOR'S CENTER IS ALSO A WORTHWHILE SIDE TRIP WHILE IN THE COSSATOT RIVER AREA. ALSO PARK INTERPRETERS ARE ON STAFF YEAR ROUND TO PROVIDE PROGRAMS FOR VISITORS AND EDUCATION EXPERIENCES FOR SCHOOL GROUPS.  WE SHOULD ALSO EMPHASIZE THAT ETHICS ARE EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO THE COSSATOT RIVER BECAUSE JUST BEING DESIGNATED AS A STATE PARK NATURAL AREA DOES NOT GUARANTEE THAT IT WILL BE PROTECTED FROM HARM.  IT TAKES EACH AND EVERY VISITOR TO HELP CARE FOR THIS EXCEPTIONAL NATURAL STATE STREAM AND ALL OF ITS NATURAL TREASURES.  THE MAJESTY AND BEAUTY THAT'S HERE IS NOT FOUND IN MANY PARTS OF THE STATE OR EVEN THE COUNTRY. IT'S MORE THAN JUST ROCKS, WATER AND TREES.  SOME OF THE PLANTS THAT ARE HERE OCCUR NOWHERE ELSE.  AND SO THE CHALLENGE IS TO ENJOY ALL OF THESE TREASURES AND YET LEAVE THIS MAGNIFICENT AREA WITHOUT A TRACE OF OUR PRESENCE.  WITHROW SPRINGS STATE PARK NORTH OF HUNTSVILLE, THIS IS THE ACTUAL SPRING HERE WHICH COMES OUT OF A CAVE.  IT WAS NAMED AFTER ONE OF THE EARLY SETTLERS WHO ESTABLISHED AN EARLY GRIST MILL HERE AND THERE ARE SEVERAL HIKING TRAILS HERE AND THE ONE WE'RE GOING TO TAKE YOU ON IS THE WAR EAGLE TRAIL.  THE ACTUAL WAR EAGLE TRAIL HEAD IS 4 MILES NORTH OF HUNTSVILLE OFF HIGHWAY 23. PARKING IS ACROSS THE HIGHWAY. FROM HERE YOU CAN FOLLOW THE TRAIL UP TO THE OVERLOOK OR YOU CAN START AT THE OTHER END OF THE TRAIL, SUCH AS WE DID WITH ASSISTANT PARK SUPERINTENDENT DANIEL GODWIN.  . 

WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO HERE TODAY IS START AT THE UPPER END OF THE TRAIL, LEAVE THE VEHICLE HERE, WALK DOWN TOWARDS THE RIVER AND THAT WAY INSTEAD OF HAVING A TWO-MILE HIKE, WE'LL JUST HAVE ONE AND WE CAN SHUTTLE BACK AND FORTH.  THIS WAY, TOO, WILL PUT US WALKING DOWNHILL. 

THERE YOU GO.  AFTER HIKING FOR JUST A LITTLE WHILE FROM THIS UPPER END, YOU WILL COME TO THE OVERLOOK AT ABOUT A QUARTER DISTANCE OF THE TRAIL.  THIS IS QUITE AN OVERLOOK HERE. 

YEAH, RIGHT HERE, CHUCK, WE'RE ABOUT 200 FEET ABOVE THE CREEK.  IT IS JUST A GREAT VIEW OF THE CREEK AND SOME OF THE SURROUNDING FARMLAND. 

YEAH.  OH, THIS IS BEAUTIFUL. 

YES, IT IS. 

ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS. 

UH-HUH.  OF COURSE I DON'T KNOW IF YOU KNOW OR NOT, BUT LAUREL CREEK IS ONE OF THE ONLY CREEKS OR RIVERS IN THE COUNTRY THAT FLOWS SOUTH TO NORTH.  HERE AT THE CREEK IT STARTS OUT AT THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE COUNTY JUST OUT OF BALDWIN AND THE CREEK MAKES THE PARK'S SOUTHERN BOUNDARY. 

OF COURSE IN THE WINTERTIME YOU CAN SEE EAGLES HERE AND IT'S GOOD FISHING AND ALL THAT STUFF. 

GREAT WILDLIFE AND BIRDING OPPORTUNITY.  WE OFFER CANOE AND KAYAK RIVERS AND THE FLOAT WE DO IS FROM HIGHWAY 412 DOWN HERE TO HIGHWAY 3, AND I KIND OF REFER TO IT AS A MINIATURE VERSION OF THE BUFFALO.  YOU HAVE SOME GOOD-LOOKING BLUFF, YOU TEND TO SEE EAGLES, DEER, OSPREY, IT'S A GREAT SECTION OF CREEK. 

SOME GOOD FISHING IN THIS CREEK. 

THERE IS GOOD FISHING BUT I DON'T LIKE TO GIVE AWAY MY SECRETS.  THERE IS GOOD FISHING AT THE CREEK. 

WE'LL LEAVE IT AT THAT. 

OKAY. 

IF YOU SHOULD HIKE THIS TRAIL ALONE, YOUR CHANCES OF SEEING SOME WILDLIFE ARE REAL GOOD.  . 

YEAH, THIS TRAIL HERE, THERE'S SOME REALLY GREAT OPPORTUNITIES OF VIEWING DIFFERENT WILDLIFE, MAINLY WHITE TAIL DEER IS USUALLY WHAT YOU'LL SEE. 

UH-HUH. 

A LOT OF TIMES YOU'LL BE ABLE TO, LIKE YOU SAID, IF YOU ARE BY YOURSELF, BEING KIND OF QUIET, YOU CAN SNEAK UP ON TURKEYS ONCE IN A WHILE, JUST A TON OF SQUIRRELS, EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE A RACCOON OR POSSUM BUT THERE'S A LOT OF WILDLIFE HERE.  DOWN HERE IS A GREAT SPOT HERE TO GET OUT ON THE CREEK. 

UH-HUH. 

A REALLY GREAT LITTLE KIND OF MINIATURE OVERLOOK HERE. 

YEAH, NICE.  THERE'S ALSO A CAVE ALONG THIS TRAIL, BUT DUE TO THE WHITE NOSE SYNDROME DISEASE IN BATS, IT'S BEEN CLOSED INDEFINITELY. 

IT WAS ACTUALLY DISCOVERED IN THE WINTER OF 2006 IN UPSTATE NEW YORK.  AND SOME OF THE TELLTALE SIGNS OF THE WHITE NOSE SYNDROME, YOU WILL SEE THE WHITE SPORES ALONG THE MUZZLE OF THE BAT AND ALONG THE WINGS.  AT LAST COUNT THEY BELIEVE IT'S KILLED OVER A MILLION BATS AND WE HAVEN'T HAD ANY REPORTED CASES OF IT IN ARKANSAS, WHICH IS A GOOD THING.  WE'RE TRYING TO DO OUR PART TO STOP THE SPREAD, THAT'S WHY WE HAVE THE CAVE CLOSED AS WELL AS DEVIL'S BEND, THEY HAVE ALL THEIR CAVES CLOSED, BUT IT EFFECTS MANY OF THE BATS WE HAVE HERE IN THE OZARKS, THE TRI-COLORED BATS AND THE GRAY BATS WHICH ARE ALL FOUND IN OUR CAVES AT DIFFERENT TIMES OF THE YEAR.  BASICALLY WHAT IT DOES, AS FAR AS HOW IT AFFECTS THE BAT, IT CAUSES THEM TO WAKE UP EARLY OUT OF HIBERNATION AND THEY GO OUT LOOKING FOR THE BUGS AND INSECTS, THEIR REGULAR FOOD SOURCE, AND IT'S NOT THERE.  SO IT BASICALLY CAUSES THE BAT TO STARVE TO DEATH.  . 

AS WE CAN SEE SECTIONS OF THIS TRAIL ARE PRETTY NARROW HOOR ALONG THE RIVER. 

YEAH, THEY DEFINITELY ARE PRETTY NARROW.  IT'S ONE OF THOSE THINGS IF YOU HAVE SMALL CHILDREN DEFINITELY KEEP AN EYE ON THEM WHEN YOU ARE ON THE TRAIL.  AFTER IT RAINS IT CAN GET REALLY SLICK ALONG SOME OF THESE SPOTS.  IF YOU HAVE DOGS, KEEP THEM ON A LEASH.  BUT AS LONG AS YOU'RE CAREFUL, IT'S NOT A BAD TRAIL.  IT'S PRETTY MILD TRAIL, THERE ARE SOME SPOTS WHERE YOU HAVE TO CLIMB JUST A LITTLE BIT, BUT IT'S NOT TOO BAD OVERALL.  AND, CHUCK, WE HAVE JUST ABOUT MADE IT.  WHENEVER YOU CAN HEAR THE TRAFFIC ALONG THE RIDGE HERE ON HIGHWAY 23, YOU KNOW YOU'RE JUST ABOUT THERE.  LIKE I MENTIONED BEFORE, YOU KNOW, IF YOU'RE GOING TO DO THE WHOLE TRAIL THERE AND BACK, YOU ARE LOOKING AT RIGHT AROUND TWO MILES.  YOU KNOW, YOU WANT TO ALLOW 2, 2 1/2 HOURS, AND THAT SHOULD BE PLENTY OF TIME. 

HOBBS STATE PARK IS THE LARGEST STATE PARK IN ARKANSAS.  TODAY WE'RE GOING TO TRY OUT THE SHADDOX HOLLOW TRAIL, IT'S ABOUT AN EASY TO MODERATE HIKE SO NO SWEAT.  HOBBS STATE PARK CONSERVATION AREA IS LOCATED 10 MILES EAST OF ROGERS ALONG HIGHWAY 12, WHICH ACTUALLY BISECTS THE PARK PROPERTY.  THE STATE PARK IS ONE MILE OFF HIGHWAY 12 OFF 303.  THE FIRST HALF MILE OF THIS 1 1/2 MILE LOOP TRAIL FOLLOWS A RIDGE LINE AND DOES PROVIDE FOR AN EASY HIKE.  LATER THE TRAIL THEN SLOWLY DESCENDS INTO SHADDOX HOLLOW WHICH, BY THE WAY, IS NAMED AFTER AN EARLY SETTLER, SOLOMON SHADDOX.  IN GENERAL, THIS TRAIL IS PERFECT FOR SCHOOL CHILDREN AND BEGINNER HIKERS.  HOBBS STATE PARK CONSERVATION AREA IS NAMED AFTER LOCAL BUSINESSMAN AND CONSERVATIONIST ROSCOE HOBBS, WHO OWNED ALL THE 12,000 ACRES OF PROPERTY FOR 40 YEARS BEFORE THE ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM ACQUIRED THE FRAGMENTED TRACT IN 1979.  THE THEME FOR THIS PARK IS NOT ONE BIG MOUNTAIN OR LAKE OR FOREST OR HISTOSTORE CAN EVENT, BUT A LITTLE BIT OF ALL OF THE ABOVE.  IT IS SDIEFRS SIT, AN AWARENESS OF THE DIVERSITY OF LIFE, ESPECIALLY WITH THE GREAT ABUNDANCE EVER PLANT AND ANIMAL SPECIES LIVES HERE BOTH ABOVE AND I DON'T UNDERSTAND GROUND, ALL OF WHICH IS REPRESENTED QUITE WELL IN THE 17,000 SQUARE FOOT VISITOR EDUCATION CENTER.  HERE YOU CAN EXPERIENCE AN EXHIBIT GALLERY, A WILDLIFE VIEWING AREA, RESEARCH COLLECTION AREA, YOU NAME IT, EVEN A MOCK CAVE ENVIRONMENT WHICH DEPICTS THE KARST SYSTEM OF CAVES, CEF ADVICES, SINK HOLES AND PITS THAT CAN BE FOUND ALL OVER THIS REGION.  SO EXPLORE ALL THAT'S AVAILABLE HERE AT HOBBS STATE PARK CONSERVATION AREA NEAR ROGERS IN NORTHWEST ARKANSAS.  IF YOU EVER WONDERED WHAT KEEPS ARKANSAS AS A DUCK CAPITAL OF THE WORLD, IT'S WORT MILE TO VISIT ONE OF THOSE AREAS THAT HAVE BEEN RESTORED TO THE WAY IT WAS BEFORE AGRICULTURE CAME INTO THE PICTURE.  FROG BUY OU IS FROXLY 15 MILES EAST OF FT. SMITH AI LONG THE ARKANSAS RIVER.  IT'S A GREAT EXAMPLE OF THE WORLD LEADER IN WILD LIFE CONSERVATION, DUCKS UNLIMITED.  THIS AREA WAS ACTUALLY ENTERED IN THE WETLAND RESERVE PROGRAM UNDER THE NRCS, WHICH IS THE NATURAL RESOURCE CONSERVATION PROGRAM.  IT WAS ENTERED INTO THE PROGRAM BY THE WHEELER FAMILY AND THEN TURNED, THEY TURNED THE LAND OVER TO US FOR MANAGEMENT OF WILDLIFE AND PRIMARILY WATERFOWL  IT'S 790 ACRES, BROKEN UP INTO 7 UNITS, ABOUT 300 ACRES PLANTED IN BOTTOMLAND HARD WOODS AND THE REST OF IT IS UPLAND AND APPROXIMATELY 275 TO 300 ACRES OF MORE OF M ORE PARS3 SOIL UNITS . 

RANDALL BULLINGTON SAYS THE HUNTING HERE IS NOT JUST POPULAR BUT WITH STUDENTS FROM U OF A IN FAYETTEVILLE. 

EXTREMELY POPULAR.  THEY CAN BE DOWN HERE HUNTING WITHIN AN HOUR AND 15 MINUTES AND GET BACK TO THEIR MORNING CLASSES. THEY COVER IT UP WHEN THE DUCKS ARE HERE. 

SO FAR AS THE PLANTING WITH VARIOUS -- HOW DOES THAT WORK, THEN. 

UNDER MORE SOIL REGIME, YOU HAVE TO ROTATE THE PLANTINGS EVERY YEAR TO GET THAT NATURAL SEED BANK TO COME BACK, SO WE DRAIN IT BACK IN THE SPRING OR IN THE SUMMER, DEPENDING ON WHAT OUR TARGET SPECIES ARE, PLANT SPECIES, THEN WE WEPL COME TO PLANT IT BACK TO LIKE BROWN COTTON MILLET, GOLDEN GRASS MILLET, OR EVEN CORN IN SOME CASES, BUT MOST OF THE TIME WE ALLOW THAT NATURAL VEGETATION TO COME BACK.  YOUR BARN YARD GRASSES, EVEN JOHNSON GRASSES AND SPIKE BEEF RUSH AND THAT'S HOW WE MANAGE THE WATER FOWL  CERTAIN TIMES OF YEAR IT'S BETTER THAN OTHERS, YOU KNOW, SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER, AND THEN OF COURSE IN THE SPRING WHEN YOU ARE GETTING THOSE  MIGRANTS COMING BACK THROUGH.  DUCK HUNTERS USE IT IN THE SEASON QUITE A BIT SO IF SOMEONE IS COMING TO BIRD WATCH, THEY CAN WALK THE LEVEES AND OBSERVE WILDLIFE AND THEN OF COURSE, YOU KNOW, THEY MAY HAVE TO SHARE WITH RABBIT HUNTERS AND SOMETIMES ARCHERY  DEER HUNTING BUT IT IS MORE POPULAR FOR WATERFOWL THAN ANYTHING.

SO, EXPERIENCE AND EXPLORE FOR YOURSELF FROG BAYOU, WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA NEAR FT. SMITH AND SEE FOR YOURSELF WHAT'S BEEN DONE HERE TO MAINTAIN ARKANSAS'S REIGN AS THE DUCK CAPITAL OF THE WORLD ALONG WITH OTHER MIGRATORY WATERFOWL AND FOR CHECK OUT OUR EPISODES, VISIT OUR WEB SITE, AETN/EXPLORING ARKANSAS AND WE'LL SEE YOU NEXT TIME FOR ANOTHER EXCITING ADVENTURE ON EXPLORING ARKANSAS.

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