Sunday, January 10, 2021

Surprised by the Arkansas Ozarks

For the weekend hard copy of the January 9th through 10th international edition, NYT readers chose 52 places to love in the world, and Arkansas is one of those places, specifically, Northern Arkansas. Here's what Bentonville resident Shaye Anderson had to say about the region:

Northern Arkansas

"There's everything you imagine when you think of an untouched paradise."

There's this little place tucked away in Northern Arkansas called Ponca. Really, it's the whole region around the Buffalo River that has been my Eden and my escape during the pandemic. Untouched, rolling mountains. The foliage is so lush and densely packed that my family has nicknamed it "the broccoli." Even in winter, there's still so much green.

The Buffalo River is less than two hours from Bentonville, and I can't believe I didn’t know about it until recently. I'm sad that I missed out on the opportunity to share it with my father, who died two years ago. He loved the outdoors, and I feel like I'm in the right place -- and at the right time -- when I'm there. It's a place that has allowed me to strengthen my connection to him.

Shaye Anderson is the director of content strategy at a creative agency. She lives in Bentonville, Arkansas.

I want to comment on a couple of things. Ms. Anderson describes the Ozarks as rolling mountains. Actually, they are the eroded remnants of a large plateau. The rock strata are flat and level, so the mountains don't generally roll. They drop at the edges. Also, the mountains are not untouched. The whole Ozarks have been logged over the past 200 years, and one finds no old growth forests. That's why the foliage is thick as broccoli. But give the region a hundred years of no logging, and we'll get back to old growth forests without so much foliage. There isn't much pollution, and the many streams are therefore pure. The Buffalo River watershed is pristine because the land is a protected, National River area.

Incidentally, the river flows west to east and empties into the White River about thirty miles south of my hometown, Salem, Arkansas.


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