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  • >> THE FERN GULLY AREA NORTHEAST OF FORT SMITH IN THE OZARK NATIONAL FOREST IS JUST THAT,

  • PLENTY OF FERNS AND QUITE SCENIC TO SAY THE LEAST AND IT'S THE FIRST AREA WE'LL EXPLORE ON THIS

  • WEEK'S SHOW, THEN WE'LL HIKE UP TO THE ROCK CREEK NATURAL AREA SOUTH OF HARDY AND CLOSE IT OUT

  • WITH THE SCENIC DRIVE ALONG ROBE BAYOU AND THE DAGMER WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA.

  • SO FOR NOW, LET AS EXPLORE THE FERN GULLY SCENIC AREA.

  • >> HIKING WITH US IS RHEA RYLEE AND GREG MILLER WITH THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE.

  • FROM THE PARKING AREA THERE IS A USER-CREATED TRAIL WHICH VEERS OFF TO THE LEFT ALONG THE TOP OF

  • THE BLUFF LINE. AFTER A SHORT DISTANCE YOU'LL COME TO A SEPARATION IN THE

  • BLUFF LINE CALLED A BEAR CRACK WHICH LEADS DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF THE CANYON.

  • >> GREG, IS THIS THE ONLY AREA LIKE THIS IN THE GULLY? >> THE ONLY RAMP?

  • YES THAT WE KNOW OF. >> BEAR CRACK. >> YEAH, I MEAN, I'VE WALKED ALL

  • THE REST OF IT, THERE ARE OTHER CRACKS THAT LEAD OFF UP THE MOUNTAIN AND BACK ON THE BLUFF

  • ON BOTH SIDES BUT NOTHING WITH THAT EASE. >> THE FERN GULLY AREA IS

  • LOCATED OF HIGHWAY 215 NORTH OF INTERSTATE 40 FROM THE MULBERRY EXIT, SITUATED DEEP IN THE OZARK

  • NATIONAL FOREST THIS AREA WAS UNKNOWN FOR QUITE SOME TIME, THAT IS, UNTIL ROCK CLIMBERS AND

  • KAYAKORS DISCOVERED IT. OUR FRIENDS AT THE ARKANSAS CA CANOE MADE US AWARE OF THIS

  • AREA. SOME OF US HAD BEEN AROUND IT BUT NEVER DOWN IN IT AND THEY

  • TALKED ABOUT IT FLASH FLOOD KAYAKING THEY WERE DOING DOWN IN THIS CANYON BEHIND US AND THE

  • TRAILS, THE ROCK CLIMBING, THE BOULDERING AND SO THE RANGER SENT ME OUT HERE TO CHECK AND

  • SURE ENOUGH I AGREED WITH THEM, IT IS A SPECIAL AREA. IT HAS A CHANGE OF ELEVATION, I

  • CHECKED FROM WHERE WE STARTED OUT AT OUR VEHICLES DOWN TO ALMOST THE MOUTH OF THE MULBERRY

  • RIVER, THAT IS ALMOST A 500 OR 600 FOOT CHANGE IN ELEVATION DROP AND THESE ROCKS, SCENERY,

  • TREES, THE WILDLIFE, I'VE SEEN BEAR OUT HERE, RATTLESNAKES THAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH OUT FOR BUT

  • THERE'S ALL KINDS OF WILDLIFE. THERE'S PLANT LIFE, SOME OF THE BIGGEST WILD AZALEAS THAT THE

  • BIOLOGISTS HAS EVER SEEN IN HIS CAREER ARE IN THIS AREA. IT'S A BEAUTIFUL AREA, UNIQUE.

  • THE CANOE CLUB, IT'S A USER--CREATED TRAIL AND THEY HAVE DONE AN OUTSTANDING JOB IN

  • MAINTAINING AND PRESERVING IT AND KEEPING IT NATURAL AND CLEAN.

  • NORMALLY IN A LOT OF THESE AREAS YOU GO IN AND SEE THERE'S PAINTED ON THE SIDE OF THE

  • BLUFF, SUSIE LOVES SAM, THERE'S A PILE OF BEER CANS AROUND, THIS AREA DOESN'T HAVE THAT.

  • THEY ARE TAKING CARE OF IT AND WITH THE NATURAL FACTORS, PLUS THE USE THAT IT'S GETTING AND

  • THE TAKING CARE OF -- WE RECOMMENDED IT TO BECOME A SPECIAL INTEREST AREA ON THE

  • FOREST.

  • >> OFFICIALLY DESIGNATED IN 2005 AS A SPECIAL INTEREST AREA, THAT MEANS EXTRA ADDED PROTECTION FOR

  • FERN GULLY. IT'S SUPPOSED TO HAVE ITS OWN COMPLETE MANAGEMENT PLAN.

  • THAT'S ONE OF THOSE THINGS WE HAVEN'T GOTTEN COMPLETED ON ALL OF THEM BECAUSE WE DO HAVE

  • SEVERAL NOW, THE RANGER DISTRICT DOES HAVE MORE SPECIAL INTEREST AREAS THAN ANY OTHER LOCATION ON

  • THE OZARK NATIONAL FOREST AND THE EMPHASIS IS MORE FOR REMEMBERING RECREATION, INSTEAD

  • OF TIMBER OR WILDLIFE, ALTHOUGH THOSE ARE INTEGRAL PARTS OF RECREATION BECAUSE IT'S MORE FUN

  • TO COME OUT AND SEE WILDLIFE, YOU KNOW, TO SEE THE TREES, DIFFERENT VEGETATION, IF IT'S

  • MANAGED PROPERLY, SO THERE ARE INTEGRAL PARTS BUT THE MANAGEMENT IS MORE DIRECTED

  • TOWARDS THE RECREATION ASPECT. IT CAN STILL BE BURNED, IT CAN STILL BE -- SOME OF THE TREES

  • HARVESTED OR CUT FOR VARIOUS REASONS, WHATEVER NEEDS TO BE DONE.

  • >> I GUESS YOU CAN MAKE A HIKE AS SHORT AS YOU WANT OR AS LONG AS YOU WANT HERE.

  • >> YEAH, THE SPECIAL INTEREST AREA EXTENDS ABOUT TWO MILES FROM UP WHERE WE PARKED DOWN TO

  • THE FOREST BOUNDARY WHICH IS ALMOST AT THE MULBERRY RIVER AND SO, YES, I MEAN, THERE'S VARYING

  • DIFFICULTIES, THIS USER-CREATED TRAIL ENDS DOWN HERE AT A LARGE FIELD BUT YOU CAN WALK ON ACROSS

  • THAT FIELD AND THERE ARE MORE BLUFF SHELTERS, JUST MORE AND MORE BEAUTIFUL FORMATIONS ALL

  • THE WAY DOWN AND ON THE OTHER SIDE AS WELL, BOTH SIDES. YOU COULD LOOP ALL THE WAY

  • AROUND IT, FOUR-MILE HIKE. UP ON TOP, IF YOU STAY ALONG THE TOP OF THE BLUFF, IT'S EVEN

  • FURTHER THAN THAT, BECAUSE UNLESS YOU ARE A GOOD ROCK CLIMBER, YOU HAVE TO BACKTRACK

  • AND GO BACK.

  • >> AS MENTIONED BEFORE, FERN GULLY IS A POPULAR ROCK CLIMBING AREA, CONSIDERING ALL THE PRIME

  • MO ROCK WALLS. >> THERE ARE SEVERAL CLIMBING POINTS OR ANCHORS JUST RIGHT

  • ABOVE YOUR HEAD THERE ARE CHAINS AND PINONES IN THE BLUFF. I DO WANT TO STRESS THOSE ALL

  • WERE INSTALLED ILLEGALLY IN THE BLUFF BY PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS. WE'VE HAD SOME CHECKING THEM OUT

  • AND WE ARE CONSIDERING REMOVING THEM, HOWEVER, THERE IS A DEBATE GOING ON AS TO WHETHER IT WOULD

  • CAUSE MORE DAMAGE TO THE ROCK FORMATIONES BY REMOVING THEM OR JUST LEAVING THEM.

  • THEY ARE A SAFETY FACTOR OF SORTS FOR PEOPLE CLIMBING BUT THERE AGAIN THEY ARE TAKING IT

  • AT THEIR OWN RISK WHEN THEY USE THOSE. THE FOREST SERVICE DID NOT

  • INSTALL THEM AND HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM AND WE JUST WANT TO CAUTION PEOPLE ON THAT.

  • SOME OF THE ROCK IN THE AREA IS VERY ROTTEN AND WILL CRUMBLE OFF AND FALL OFF AND HIT YOU ON THE

  • HEAD. THERE ARE ALSO A LOT OF DEAD TREES AROUND IN THE AREA FROM

  • THE WHITE OAK AND RED OAK DECLINE SO YOU NEED TO BE AWARE OF THAT.

  • IF YOU'RE DOWN HERE AND THEN THE BOULDERING IS ONE OF THE OTHER MAJOR ACTIVITIES.

  • LIKE I SAID THAT'S WHERE THEY JUST TRY TO CLIMB UP SO HIGH ON THE ROCK AND THAT DOESN'T TAKE

  • ANY SPECIAL EQUIPMENT OTHER THAN JUST EXTRA STRONG FINGERS, I BELIEVE.

  • >> FOLKS WHO COME TO FERN GULLY FOR THE FIRST TIME ARE ALWAYS IN AWE AS WAS THE CASE FOR WILDLIFE

  • BIOLOGIST RHEA RYLEE. >> I HAD TO COME OUT AND HELP THESE ACTUAL BIOLOGICAL

  • INVENTORIES OF THE AREA, WE WERE LOOKING FOR BAT CAVES AND MY FIRST REACTION WHEN I CAME HERE

  • WAS THIS WOULD BE A REALLY GREAT PLACE FOR BATS BUT IN INVENTORY WE ONLY FOUND, AND I BELIEVE WE

  • DID THAT IN CONNECTION WITH FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE AND FOUND ONLY ONE LIMITED USE BAT CAVE

  • BUT ONE OF THE REASONS WHY THIS AREA WAS DESIGNATED AS A SPECIAL INTEREST AREA WAS FOR THE

  • BOTANICAL REASONS. THERE ARE GIANT, GIANT MOUNTAIN AZALEAS, IF YOU COME IN THE

  • SPRING THROES A LOT OF WILD FLOWERS, FANTASTIC PLACE TO COME LOOK FOR WILD FLOWERS.

  • DIFFERENT KINDS OF FERNS, LOTS OF FERNS. >> HAVE YOU DONE ANY ROCK

  • CLIMBING HERE LATELY? >> NO, I HAVEN'T. >> KIND OF TEMPTING WHEN YOU

  • LOOK AT THE ROCK WALLS HERE. >> YU YEAH, I PREFER TO GO DOWN TO THE LITTLE CRACKS AND CAVES

  • AND CLIMB THE ROCKS.

  • >> SO WHETHER YOU JUST WANT TO TAKE A HIKE OR GET INVOLVED WITH THE MORE SERIOUS ADVENTURE HERE,

  • FERN GULLY IS A SPECIAL AREA THAT IS WELL WORTH A VISIT.

  • >> ROBE BAYOU WEST OF BRINKLEY IS ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE PRISTINE SCENIC BY USE OF THE SOUTH.

  • THE GOOD THING ABOUT THIS BAYOU, THERE'S AN AUTO TOUR YOU CAN TAKE AND ENJOY THE SCENERY

  • WITHOUT EVEN HAVING TO GET OUT OF YOUR VEHICLE. SO LET'S TAKE A DRIVE ALONG THE

  • BAYOU.

  • >> THIS IS ROBE BAYOU AND IT COMES OFF THE CACHE RIVER JUST NORTH OF THE AREA, COUPLE MILES

  • NORTH, WHEN CACHE RIVER FLOODS, THE WATER COMES DOWN THROUGH ROBE BAYOU AND BACK INTO BAYOU

  • DE VIEW, ABOUT TWO MILES SOUTH OF THE AREA, BACK INTO ROBE BAYOU, SO IT'S KIND OF A -- IT

  • TRANSVERSES BETWEEN THE CACHE RIVER ANDBAYOU DE VIEW SO IT'S PRETTY MUCH CUT IN HALF.

  • CACHE RIVER IS ON THE WEST SIDE OF ROBE BAYOU AND BAYOU DE VIEW IS ON THE EAST SIDE.

  • >> IS THIS AREA KIND OF CONSIDERED AS PART OF THE QUOTE UNQUOTE BIG WOODS OF ARKANSAS?

  • >> YES, DAGMER IS ABOUT 7900 ACRES AND IT'S A HUGE BLOCK BLOCK OF KIM BETTER AND IT'S A

  • BIG PART OF THE BIG WOODS. >> THAT NAME CAME OF COURSE NOW FROM THE IVORY-BUILD WOODPECKER

  • SPOTTING. >> YES, IN THE CACHE RIVER REFUGE AND THE WILD RIVER REFUGE

  • AND THAT'S SOUTH AND A LOT OF CATCH CATCH IS NORTH. SO DAG MORE IS PRETTY MUCH RIGHT

  • IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TWREFUGES. >> ALONG WITH THE CACHE RIVER AND WHITE RIVER NATURAL

  • WILDLIFE, THE DAGMER AREA WITH NEARLY 10,000 ACRES ALSO SHARES THE DESIGNATION OF BEING A WET

  • LAND WITH INTERNATIONAL IMPORTANCE. PRIMARILY FOR THE HABITAT THAT

  • IS AVAILABLE TO WINTERING WATER FOWL. >> A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF BIRDS

  • THAT USE THIS AREA THROUGHOUT THE YEAR USUALLY SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER IS A GOOD TIME TO COME

  • BIRDING, FALL MIGRATION COMING THROUGH AND THEN ALSO IN THE SPRING MIGRATION IN MARCH AND

  • APRIL IS A GOOD TIME TO BIRD HERE. WE HAVE GOT A BIRD LIST THAT THE

  • AREA MANAGER KEEPS OF THE AREA AND WE HAVE SEVERAL OVER 100 BIRDS THAT HAS BEEN SEEN IN THE

  • AREA THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER. BUT THERE IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY HERE FOR FISHING, HUNTING, WE

  • HAVE THIS AREA KNOWN FOR ITS WATER FOUL. WE HAVE ROBE BAYOU IS AN

  • EXCELLENT FISHERY, WE HAVE OTHERS AND GATOR POND AS WELL. >> ANY GATORS IN GATOR POND?

  • >> YES, WE DO. SOME OF OUR -- WE HAVE ALLIGATORS STOCKED HERE SO WE

  • HAVE SINCE I'VE BEEN HERE WE'VE GOT THREE ALLIGATORS. >> WHAT ARE THE FISHING

  • OPPORTUNITIES IN THE BAYOU OVER HERE? >> WELL, THE BAYOU IS ABOUT FIVE

  • MILES LONG AND THERE'S CAMPING AREAS ALL ALONG THE BAYOU AND FISHING IS VERY PREVALENT

  • THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. ALSO THERE'S I THINK TWO OR THREE BOAT RAMPS ON THE BAYOU,

  • TWO OF THEM, I THINK TWO ARE PRIMITIVE AND ONE HAS A CONCRETE RAMP SO THERE'S FISHING

  • OPPORTUNITIES BOOT FOR BOAT AND LAND FISHING. >> FOLKS WHO JUST WANT TO TAKE

  • KAYAK TRIP AS WELL. >> YES, WE HAVE A AYNUP WHERE THE CANOE TRAIL STARTS AND WE'VE

  • MARKED THE TRAIL ON THE ROBE BAYOU. THERE'S REALLY NO WAY TO GET

  • LOST ON THE BAYOU BUT WE HAVE PUT WHITE SIGNS UP THAT MARK THE TRAIL.

  • >> OF COURSE THOSE FOLKS THAT JUST WANT TO TAKE A CAR TOUR, THE ROAD WE'RE TAKING TODAY

  • ALONG THE BAYOU, YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO GET OUT OF THE CAR AND YOU CAN STILL SEE THE BAYOU.

  • >> YES, IN THE FALL, THIS AUTO TRIP IS BEAUTIFUL. WHEN THE LEAVES YOU ARE TURNING,

  • IT'S ABOUT FOUR AND A HALF MILES FROM WHERE ROBE BAYOU STARTS ALL THE WAY TO THE LAKE SO ABOUT A 4

  • AND A HALF MILE TRIP AND IT IS BEAUTIFUL. LOT OF PEOPLE GET OUT AND BIRD

  • ALONG THE ROAD IN THE FALL.

  • >> ALTHOUGH IT IS POSSIBLE TO SEE MOST OF ROBE BAYOU BY JUST DRIVING ALONG, TO REALLY

  • EXPERIENCE THIS ENTIRE AREA, I WOULD SUGGEST STOPPING ALONG AT THE VARIOUS CAMPSITE LOCATIONS

  • AND GETTING OUT OF YOUR VEHICLE SO YOU CAN TAKE IT ALL IN. IT MAKES FOR BETTER

  • PICTURE-TAKING AS WELL BY BEING CLOSEUP TO THE WATER'S EDGE. AND IF YOU STICK AROUNUNTILI

  • SUNDAY SET YOU'LL DISCOVER ROBE BAYOU TAKES ON A WHOLE DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE.

  • >> THE ROCK CREEK NATURAL AREA SOUTH OF HARDY IS ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE MANY NATURAL AREAS

  • UNDERNEATH THE ARKANSAS NATIONAL HERITAGE COMMISSION AND JOINING US IS JOHN O'DELL WITH THE

  • COMMISSION WHO WILL BE GUIDING US TO PWUB LING SPRINGS. >>

  • >> JOHN, THIS IS NOT TOO BAD OF A HIKE. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY, LESS THAN A

  • MILE? >> PROBABLYALMOST A MILE, THEN WE'LL GO UPSTREAM MAYBE ANOTHER

  • HALF MILE TO BUBBLING SPRINGS. >> THE ROCK CREEK NATURAL AREA IS ACTUALLY WITHIN THE SPRING

  • RIVER WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA SOUTH OF HARDY NEAR THE TOWN OF SITKA.

  • THE TRAIL TO THE SPRINGS VARIES FROM BEING QUITE WIDE TO HARDLY ANY TRAIL AT ALL.

  • >> WE MAY HAVE TO BUSHWACK A TAD. >> I SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT MY

  • MACHETE! >> THIS ISN'T TOO BAD. I DON'T KNOW IF THE SEED

  • PARTICULARS ARE OUT, THEY MIGHT BE, YEAH, THEY ARE, YOU SEE THEM?

  • >> YEAH. THIS IS THAT TIME OF YEAR FOR THE TICS.

  • THEY COME OUT IN LATE AUGUST.

  • >> IF YOU DO THIS HIKE DURING THE WARMER MONTHS, UPON RESEARCHING BUBBLING SPRINGS, IT

  • IS THE PERFECT PLACE TO COOL OFF.

  • >> OH, YEAH! THAT'S NICE. DOES THE TRAIL PRETTY MUCH END

  • OVER HERE? >> THIS IS THE END AND THEN THERE'S A SMALL STREAK UP HERE

  • BUT THAT'S NOT REALLY PUTTING OUT TOO MUCH WATER. >> ROCK CREEK IS THE PERFECT

  • EXAMPLE OF A PURE OZARK MOUNTAIN STREAM, UNIQUE BECAUSE OF ITS HIGH WATER QUALITY.

  • >> WE GOT THIS AREA BASICALLY JUST TO PRESERVE THE FIELDS AND THE STREAM AND ANY KIND OF

  • SPRINGS. THERE'S A LOT OF RARE PLANTS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS TYPE OF

  • TOPOGRAPHY, STREAMS. >> GOLDEN ROD WE HAVE A SHOT OFF.

  • >> THAT'S A RARE PLANT, FOUND ONLY IN NORTHERN ARKANSAS IN THIS ONE SPOT AND WE ALSO GOT

  • THIS AS A TYPE OF COMMUNITY ALSO, IT'S A FAIRLY RARE COMMUNITY IN ARKANSAS WITH THE

  • SPRING TYPE COMMUNITY WITH THE DOLE LA MIGHT AND THE OTHER TYPES.

  • >> THE CLARITY OF THIS WATER IS JUST AMAZING. >> IT IS AAMAZING.

  • >> THE LITTLE SNAILS YOU CALL THEM -- >> WELL, I'VE ALWAYS HEARD THEM

  • REFERRED TO ASPERFECT WIN ALSO. >> THEY ARE INDICATORS OF REALLY GOOD WATER QUALITY.

  • SO THERE'S A LOT, IF YOU LOOK DOWN YOU'LL SEE MANY, MANY OF THEM AND THIS IS ONE OF THE FEW

  • AREAS I'VE SEEN THEM IN. OTHER AREAS AROUND THE OTHER CREEK, THAT IS A VERY NICE WATER

  • SPRING-FED MOSTLY SO THIS IS A SPECIAL PLACE WE'RE PROUD OF IT. REALLY NICE.