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"Cache River Restoration" and "Called to Teach"

This month's first guest speaker is Scott Simon, State Director of The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas.

Lower Cache River Restoration Project

Scott will give a quick overview of TNC's conservation efforts in Arkansas and focus most of the presentation on one of our biggest projects at the moment- the Lower Cache River Restoration Project. The story of conservation in the lower Cache River and surrounding Big Woods of eastern Arkansas is one of ecological setbacks, protection victories and painstaking restoration. Yet the final chapter has yet to be written.


In 1970, with support from local landowners, the Army Corps of Engineers slated 232 miles of the meandering lower Cache River and Bayou DeView for channelization to control flooding on adjacent fields. But a group of concerned sportsmen and conservationists launched a campaign that eventually brought a halt to ditching of nearly all of the lower Cache. During the battle, 7 miles of the river were channelized. Soon after, TNC worked with communities, agencies and conservation groups to begin conserving the remaining forests in the lower Cache basin. Major victories included securing federal funding that created the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and later working to add 41,000 acres of Potlatch Corporation lands to the White River NWR. Through the Wetlands Reserve Program, tens of thousands of bottomland acres were reforested. All told, the Conservancy and its partners have reforested more than 50,000 acres and safeguarded more than 120,000 acres in the Big Woods.

While the conservation strides have been significant, the work on the channelized stretch of the lower Cache remains incomplete. Now we have an opportunity to begin restoring natural meanders of the channelized river, helping to fulfill the vision of those who originally worked to protect the river. TNC is working in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Ducks Unlimited and the US Fish & Wildlife Service to restore a 4.6 mile portion of the channelized river upstream from Clarendon. If successful, this stretch of the Cache will once again enjoy thriving fish populations and flourishing habitat that supports waterfowl and hundreds of other resident and migratory bird species. More than that, restoring the Cache pays homage to and helps sustain the deeply rooted Delta river culture so cherished throughout Arkansas. We anticipate this restoration project will also inspire people across Arkansas and serve as a model for river restoration nationwide.

Scott Simon is the State Director of The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas. Scott received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin and a Master of Science in Forestry from the University of Illinois. He moved to Little Rock and joined The Nature Conservancy as land steward in 1996. He has been director since 2003. In addition to working supporting the Conservancy staff in Arkansas, Simon has helped develop conservation projects in Central America and Africa. From[masked], Simon worked as a wetland ecologist for the Illinois Natural History Survey and was also an instructor at the University of Illinois. He currently serves as a member of the national Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Panel and on the Buffalo River Foundation's advisory board. Simon lives in Little Rock with his wife, Angela, and children Charlie and Annie.

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Following Scott Simon's talk, Debbie Doss will speak about her experience attending the Called to Teach seminar, held July 28th at Fellowship Baptist Church.  This was a seminar aimed at instructing Christian teachers how to "live out their faith" and spread Christ in the public schools and get away with it.  Debbie will talk about the various techniques discussed and take your questions.

For a lively discussion of current events, AR Freethinker's group news and business, join us at the downtown Little Rock library.  Parking is free and plentiful on Sundays. We meet on the first floor in the meeting room in the back of the Library. We usually adjourn at about 4:30pm and walk over to the Flying Saucer or Flying Fish for dinner, drinks and more fun times.

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  • Dave B.

    Very interesting talks from Scott Simon and Debbie Doss. The audience was fully engaged the whole afternoon.

    August 21, 2011

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