Out of the Woods
Arkansas is leading the way in educating its citizens about the balancing of ecological and economic values of the forest for the prosperity and recreational enjoyment of future generations.
This documentary is made possible in part by a grant from The Ross Foundation and by public television Viewers Like You.
AETN proudly presents "Out of the Woods," a documentary that takes an in-depth look at Arkansas' timber industry One half of Arkansas is covered in forests. Trees support the state's largest industry, provide a location for recreation and protect much of the diverse wildlife in the state. AETN, the Arkansas Educational Television Network, looks at the state's most valuable resource in a documentary called "Out of the Woods."
This 30-minute documentary profiles the mosaic of forests in Arkansas and the people who depend upon them. The program looks at how the forests have been utilized by industry, private owners, the U.S. Forestry Service and researchers, who are studying Arkansas' trees.
When Arkansas received statehood in 1836, nearly all of the state was forested. The trees stretched from ancient bottomland hardwoods in the Delta to giant white oaks in the Ozarks. The white oak trees were so tall it was possible to ride a horse through the woods without touching the bottom branches of the trees. The pine belt in the gulf coastal plain in south Arkansas once produced large deciduous trees interspersed with pine.
The program shows that farming, the railroad industry and a boom in logging have forever changed Arkansas' forests. Through forestry research, careful land management and restoration efforts, however, new forests in the Natural State are thriving. In a study of forested land in the state from 1988 to 1995, each region showed an increase in the number of acres reforested.
"Out of the Woods" also demonstrates that harvesting timber is the state's biggest industry. Giant paper mills, plywood plants and saw mills pump $1.4 billion dollars into Arkansas' economy every year. Fifteen percent of the entire Arkansas work force is employed in the timber industry. The industry provides 40,000 jobs and an annual payroll of $938 million. In southern Arkansas, the business of harvesting trees has given birth to - and continues to sustain - small towns throughout the pine belt.
Wood products from U.S. forests are the nation's most valued agricultural commodity. The forest industry is one of the top ten industrial employers in the nation.
Only 40 percent of Arkansas' forests are owned by either industry or the government. The majority of the woods are privately owned by individuals and families. Nationally, private citizens own about 59 percent of the commercial forest land.
Private citizens sustain forests on their land for a number of reasons. Many enjoy the wildlife protected by the trees, while receiving a regular income from selling select trees. In some areas, sustained forests prevent erosion to farmland and keep waterways clear by reducing sediment. In other areas, trees are planted to restore Arkansas' wetlands.
Arkansans who want to know more about sustainable forestry can contact the Arkansas Forestry Association, Arkansas Forestry Commission, Arkansas Timber Producers Association, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Conservation Service, Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts and the Farm Services Agency.