|Ouachita National Forest|
IUCN category VI (protected area with sustainable use of natural resources)
Ouachita National Forest
|Location||Arkansas / Oklahoma, United States|
|Nearest city||Hot Springs, AR|
|Area||1,784,457 acres (7,221.44 km2)|
|Established||December 18, 1907|
|Governing body||U.S. Forest Service|
|Website||Ouachita National Forest|
The Ouachita National Forest is a National Forest that lies in the western portion of Arkansas and portions of eastern Oklahoma.
The Ouachita National Forest is the oldest National Forest in the southern United States. The forest encompasses 1,784,457 acres (7,221 km2), including most of the scenic Ouachita Mountains. Six locations in the forest, comprising 65,000 acres (263 km2), have been designated as wilderness areas.
Ouachita is the French spelling of the Indian word Washita, which means "good hunting grounds." The forest was known as Arkansas National Forest on its establishment on December 18, 1907; the name was changed to Ouachita National Forest on April 29, 1926.
Rich in history, the rugged and scenic Ouachita Mountains were explored by Europeans in 1541 by Hernando de Soto's party of Spaniards. French explorers followed, flavoring the region with names like Fourche La Fave River.
The area including the forest nearly became a 165,000-acre (670 km2) national park during the 1920s, but a last-minute pocket veto by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge ended the effort. The bill had been pushed by U.S. Senator Joseph T. Robinson and U.S. Representative Otis Wingo, both Democrats, and State Representative Osro Cobb, then the only Republican in the Arkansas legislature. Cobb had been invited to meet with Coolidge before the proposal was killed because of opposition from the National Park Service and the United States Department of Agriculture, presumably because of the nearby location of Hot Springs National Park.
In a magazine article, Cobb describes the area that he had sought to protect for future generations, located approximately midway between Little Rock and Shreveport, Louisiana, as within relatively easy driving distance of 45 million Americans, many of whom could not afford long trips to the national parks in the western states. He compared flora and fauna in the Ouachita forest to those of the southern Alleghenies, a division of the Appalachian Mountains.Cobb continues:
A visitor standing upon one of the many majestic peaks in the area of the proposed park is thrilled by a panoramic view that cannot be had elsewhere in the South Central States. With cheeks flushed by the invigorating mountain breezes, the mountain climber is rewarded by an inspiring view of countless and nameless peaks, mountain groups, dense forests, and inviting valleys, all merging into the distant horizon. ... there are many mountain streams, now moving slowly in narrow but deep pools, then churning with savage ferocity down some water-worn precipice, leaving in its wake snow-white sprays ... Fed by crystal springs and like so much molten silver these streams flow their turbulent courses unappreciated and rarely visited. ...
The Forest contains extensive woodlands of stunted Northern Red Oak, White Oak, post oak, and Blackjack Oak at elevations over 2,500 feet (760 m) and on steep, dry slopes. These woodlands, of little commercial value, were never logged and the extent of old growth forest within them may total nearly 800,000 acres (3,200 km2). There are also old-growth woodlands of Eastern Redcedar, Gum Bumelia, Winged Elm, and Yaupon along some streams.
Two wilderness areas are found in the forest, protecting the sections of the forest that have had the least amount of human intervention. The 13,139-acre (53.2 km2) Black Fork Mountain Wilderness is located in both Arkansas and Oklahoma and contains significant old-growth forests. The 9,754-acre (39.5 km2) Upper Kiamichi River Wilderness is located solely in Oklahoma.
The Talimena Scenic Drive, which is Highway 1 in Oklahoma and Highway 88 in Arkansas, is a National Scenic Byway which meanders through the forest providing amazing vistas and excellent photo opportunities. The Scenic Drive passes through old-growth oak woodlands on Winding Stair and Rich Mountains. Forest headquarters are located in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
The forest contains a number of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails. The most extensive hiking trail is the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, which traverses 223 miles (359 km) across the region. This is a well-maintained backpacking, hiking trail with overnight shelters in several portions of the trail. Mountain biking is also allowed for some sections of the trail.
Camp Clearfork was originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA),it is on Clearfork Lake, about 20 miles (32 km) west of Hot Springs, Arkansas on U.S. 270. Reservations are required for camping, and may be made through the Womble USDA Office at (870) 867-2101. The campground has 6 dorm/cabins which can hold up to 10 people each; 3 staff cabins that hold 5-6 people each, a dining hall, a recreation hall, and accessible flush toilets and showers.
In the Oklahoma section of the forest the 26,445-acre (107 km2) Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area and six other designated areas offer visitors a full range of activities with more than 150 campsites, a 90-acre (36 ha) lake, and an equestrian camp.
Southeast of Idabel, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation manages the Red Slough Wildlife Management Area, a 5,814 acres (23.53 km2) wetland area donated to the USFS by The Conservation Fund in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Hunting (no lead shot) and fishing are allowed there. The area is also a destination for birdwatchers from throughout the United States and the United Kingdom as well.
Canoeing and fishing are popular activities on the Mountain Fork River, Caddo River, Little Missouri River, and Ouachita River within the bounds of the forest. The Cossatot River, said to be the most difficult whitewater river between the Smoky and Rocky Mountains, also passes through the forest.
Rockhounds frequent a belt several miles wide containing concentrations of quartz crystals. Visitors and rock collectors are free to pick up loose crystals within the belt for personal use and may dig for quartz with the permission of the district ranger.
Ouachita National Forest is located in 13 counties in western and central Arkansas and 2 counties in southeastern Oklahoma. They are listed here in descending order of forestland within the county. Also given is their area as of September 30, 2007. About 80% of the forest's area is in Arkansas, with the remaining 20% in Oklahoma. In Arkansas there are local ranger district offices located in Booneville, Danville, Glenwood, Jessieville, Mena, Mount Ida, Oden, Perryville, and Waldron. In Oklahoma they are located in Hodgen, Talihina, and north of Broken Bow. Even though the Ouachita National Forest is far from being the largest, its twelve ranger districts are the most of any in the National Forest system. The giant Tongass National Forest in Alaska is second with nine ranger district divisions.
There are six officially designated wilderness areas lying within Ouachita National Forest that are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.
The Ozark – St. Francis National Forest is a United States National Forest that is located in the state of Arkansas. It is composed of two separate forests, Ozark National Forest in the Ozark Mountains; and St. Francis National Forest on Crowley's Ridge. Each forest has distinct biological, topographical, and geological differences.
The Ouachita Mountains, simply referred to as the Ouachitas, are a mountain range in western Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma. They are formed by a thick succession of highly deformed Paleozoic strata constituting the Ouachita Fold and Thrust Belt, one of the important orogenic belts of North America. The Ouachitas continue in the subsurface to the northeast where they make a poorly understood connection with the Appalachians and to the southwest where they join with the Marathon area of West Texas. Together with the Ozark Plateaus, the Ouachitas form the U.S. Interior Highlands. The highest natural point is Mount Magazine at 2,753 feet.
The Monongahela National Forest is a national forest located in the Allegheny Mountains of eastern West Virginia, USA. It protects over 921,000 acres of federally owned land within a 1,700,000 acres proclamation boundary that includes much of the Potomac Highlands Region and portions of 10 counties.
The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests are U.S. National Forests that combine to form one of the largest areas of public land in the Eastern United States. They cover 1.8 million acres (7,300 km2) of land in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Approximately 1 million acres (4,000 km2) of the forest are remote and undeveloped and 139,461 acres (564 km2) have been designated as wilderness areas, which eliminates future development.
Cleveland National Forest encompasses 460,000 acres, mostly of chaparral, with a few riparian areas. A warm dry mediterranean climate prevails over the Forest. It is the southernmost National forest of California. It is administered by the United States Forest Service, a government agency within the United States Department of Agriculture. It is divided into the Descanso, Palomar and Trabuco Ranger Districts and is located in the counties of San Diego, Riverside, and Orange.
The Shasta–Trinity National Forests are federally designated forests in northern California, United States. Combined, they are the largest National Forest in California and are managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The 2,210,485 acre combined-forest encompasses five wilderness areas, hundreds of mountain lakes and 6,278 miles (10,103 km) of streams and rivers. Major features include Shasta Lake, the largest man-made lake in California and Mount Shasta, elevation 14,179 feet (4,322 m).
Mark Twain National Forest (MTNF) is a U.S. National Forest located in the southern half of Missouri. MTNF was established on September 11, 1939. It is named for author Mark Twain, a Missouri native. The MTNF covers 3,068,800 acres (12,419 km2) of which 1,506,100 acres (6,095 km2) is public owned, 78,000 acres (320 km2) of which are Wilderness, and National Scenic River area. MTNF spans 29 counties and represents 11% of all forested land in Missouri. MTNF is divided into six distinct ranger districts: Ava-Cassville-Willow Springs, Eleven Point, Houston-Rolla, Cedar Creek, Poplar Bluff, Potosi-Fredericktown, and the Salem. The six ranger districts actually comprise nine overall unique tracts of forests. Its headquarters are in Rolla, Missouri.
The Chattahoochee–Oconee National Forest in northern Georgia comprises two United States National Forests, the Oconee National Forest in eastern Georgia and the Chattahoochee National Forest located in the North Georgia Mountains. The Chattahoochee National Forest is composed of an eastern and western forest. The western forest contains Johns Mountain, Little Sand Mountain, and Taylor Ridge. The combined total area of the Chattahoochee–Oconee National Forest is 866,468 acres (3,506 km2), of which the Chattahoochee National Forest comprises 750,145 acres (3,036 km2) and the Oconee National Forest comprises 116,232 acres (470 km2). The county with the largest portion of the eastern forest is Rabun County, Georgia, which has 148,684 acres (601.7 km2) within its boundaries.
Black Fork Mountain Wilderness is located in the U.S. states of Arkansas and Oklahoma. Created by an act of Congress in 1984, the wilderness covers an area of 13,139 acres (53 km²). The Arkansas portion contains 8,430 acres (34.1 km2) and the Oklahoma portion contains 5,140 acres (20.8 km2). Located within Ouachita National Forest, the wilderness is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The area is about 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Page, Oklahoma, and about 6 miles (9.7 km) north of Mena, Arkansas.
The Upper Kiamichi River Wilderness is located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Created by an act of Congress in 1988, the wilderness covers an area of 9,754 acres (39.47 km2). Contained within Ouachita National Forest, the wilderness is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
State Highway 1, sometimes abbreviated as SH-1, is a 209.7-mile (337 km) highway maintained by the U.S. state of Oklahoma. It travels through the southeastern part of the state, nicknamed Little Dixie. SH-1 is signed east and west.
Lincoln National Forest is a unit of the U.S. Forest Service located in southern New Mexico. Established by Presidential Proclamation in 1902 as the Lincoln Forest Preserve, the 1,103,897 acres (4,467.31 km2) forest begins near the Texas border and contains lands in parts of Chaves, Eddy, Lincoln, and Otero counties. The three Ranger Districts within the forest contain all or part of four mountain ranges, and include a variety of different environmental areas, from desert to heavily forested mountains and sub-alpine grasslands. Established to balance conservation, resource management, and recreation, the lands of the Lincoln National Forest include important local timber resources, protected wilderness areas, and popular recreation and winter sports areas. The forest headquarters is located in Alamogordo, N.M. with local offices in Carlsbad, Cloudcroft, and Ruidoso.
Ouachita National Recreation Trail is a 223-mile (359 km) long, continuous hiking trail through the Ouachita Mountains of Oklahoma and Arkansas. It is the longest backpacking trail in the Ouachita National Forest, spanning 192 miles across its length. Approximately 177 miles of the trail is in Arkansas and 46 miles of the trail is in Oklahoma. The trail is used by hikers, backpackers, hunters, and mountain bikers. It is a non-motorized single track trail open only to foot traffic and partially open to mountain bicycles. Segments opened to mountain bikes are from the western terminus of the Ouachita Trail at Talimena State Park to the Big Cedar trailhead on US Highway 259 at approximately Mile Marker (MM) 30.5 in Oklahoma, and from the Talimena Scenic Drive Trailhead at MM 54.1, east to Highway 7 at mile 160.4, north of Jessieville, Arkansas.
Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area is a United States National Recreation Area located within the Ouachita National Forest. State Highway 1, known as the Talimena Scenic Byway in this area, bisects the recreation area. U. S. Highway 271 loops up through the summit. Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area and the nearby Upper Kiamichi River and Black Fork Mountain Wilderness areas were created by an act of Congress on October 18, 1988.
The Talimena Scenic Drive is a National Scenic Byway in southeastern Oklahoma and extreme western Arkansas spanning a 54.0-mile (86.9 km) stretch of Oklahoma State Highway 1 (SH-1) and Arkansas Highway 88 (AR 88) from Talihina, Oklahoma, to Mena, Arkansas.
Womble Trail, located in the Ouachita National Forest in western Arkansas, United States, is a singletrack path running more than 37 miles from North Fork Lake to the Ouachita National Recreation Trail. The U.S. Forest Service trail is open for use by mountain bikers and hikers. Horses are not allowed. The nearest towns are Mount Ida and Oden.
The Flatside Wilderness is a rugged 9,507-acre protected area in the U.S. state of Arkansas. It is one of six wilderness areas in the Ouachita National Forest and also the easternmost. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the area in a number of ways, including an 8.9-mile hike of the Ouachita National Recreation Trail.
Indian Nations National Scenic and Wildlife Area is a federally designated National Scenic Area within Ouachita National Forest 11 miles (18 km) south of Heavener, in Le Flore County, Oklahoma USA. The 41,051-acre (16,613 ha) scenic area is administered by the U.S. Forest Service. The scenic area includes the Homer L. Johnson Wildlife Management Area. There is also a 15-acre (6.1 ha) fishing lake atop Post Mountain,developed by the U. S. Forest Service during the 1930s, is included within the scenic area.
Talimena State Park is an Oklahoma state park located in LeFlore County in eastern Oklahoma. The 20 acres (8.1 ha) park is at the Oklahoma entrance to Talimena Scenic Drive, about 7 miles (11 km) north of Talihina, Oklahoma. and 20 miles (32 km) south of Wister. It offers opportunities for camping, hiking, biking, and wildlife watching.
The Winding Stair Mountains is a mountain ridge located within the state of Oklahoma in Le Flore County, north of Talihina.
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