Volunteer Opportunities in North Central Chapter

North Central Arkansas Master Naturalists

written by Nell Doyle

VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES OF NORTH CENTRAL ARKANSAS MASTER NATURALISTS

revised: December 15, 2016

The following activities are the major projects NCAMN will undertake during 2016-2017.

Bull Shoals/White River State Park (BSWRSP). Volunteers work on several projects in the state park, including trail maintenance noted in the next section.

Interpretation Guides. Throughout the year, but particularly in the spring when the number of school groups visiting the park peaks, volunteers assist in presenting programs on wildlife. Activities may be as simple as turning on a projector, assisting with a game or leading a group on a short hike. Contact: BSWRSP Interpreter Julie Lovett.

Gaston Wildflower Meadow. NCAMN maintains the three-acre Gaston Wildflower Meadow and Trail by weeding invasive and non-native plants, seeding native varieties, and cultivating beds around arbors. Most work is in the spring and fall, two mornings per month. Contact: Karen Woods.

Biological Inventory. The bio-inventory team identifies and charts the location of native plants (including wildflowers, trees, and others), as well as birds, mammals, and insects. Most activities extend from early spring through late fall although some bird counts and animal tracking may occur in the winter. Contact: Ellen Chagnon.

Trail Patrol. Volunteers maintain and occasionally construct hiking trails in Baxter, Marion, and other north central counties, usually working with local, state, and federal agencies. Trail patrol volunteers clear debris from ice and wind storms, reroute trails, and keep trail corridors clear of branches, loose rocks, and other impediments. While some work is strenuous, other trail work can be completed with hand tools. Trail maintenance season extends from autumn through spring, usually two weekday work mornings per month, with occasional full-day sessions on Saturdays. Contact: Lee Argyle or Roy Stovall.

Stream Team. Stream teams are groups of citizens who adopt a stream or other body of water for the purpose of helping keep it clean and healthy. Volunteers collect and analyze water samples and identify macro-invertebrates (tiny bugs), and send data recorded quarterly to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. NCAMN’s Stream Team has adopted Moccasin Creek and Jimmie Creek in Marion County, Shawnee Town Branch in Yellville, Little Pigeon Creek in Baxter County, and Calico Creek in Izard County. Work continues throughout the year, one workday morning per month. Contact: Susan Britt or Bob Verboon.

Fred Berry Conservation Education Center on Crooked Creek. This conservation education project of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission includes an education building, pavilion, trails, nearly three miles of frontage along Crooked Creek and over 400 acres of varied Ozark habitat. Visitors of all ages experience the outdoors and enjoy the charm of an Ozark Blue Ribbon Stream. The gate is open Tuesday-Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Trails are open sunrise to sunset each day. Volunteers help maintain the Center’s buildings, trails and gardens, as well as assist with educational programs for school children and other visitors. Contact: TBA

Ozark Folk Center State Park. Volunteers assist Park Herbalist Tina Marie Wilcox in maintaining and planting the Park’s Heritage Gardens. The gardens include many native woodland plants, as well as vegetables, fruit, herbs, and flowers cultivated for hundreds of years in the Ozarks. While working in gardens and greenhouse, volunteers learn about traditional culinary and medicinal uses of many plants and techniques for cultivating and propagating them. There are usually two work mornings each month throughout the year. Contact: Nell Doyle.

David’s Trail. Begun in 2008, this project is a joint effort of the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the David’s Trail Foundation in memory of community leader and outdoor enthusiast David Floyd, who died in 2002. The trail is designed to encourage the kind of active lifestyle Floyd exemplified. The trail now extends from Robertson Point to Panther Bay and then continues on the north side of Lake Norfork from Bidwell Point approximately 12 miles to Red Bank. Additional trail construction is planned. When complete, it will be a 50+ mile network of multi-purpose (hiking, jogging, bicycling, geo-caching) trails located entirely on public lands.

NCAMN volunteers have helped maintain and improve the trail, principally on the portion south of Lake Norfork, by identifying and tagging trees, planting wildflowers, setting bluebird houses and collecting “bird occupancy” data, and gathering trash and storm debris. In fall 2016 the David’s Trail Foundation began to organize its own Trail Maintenance team—which NCAMN volunteers may join—to maintain the expanding trail corridor. Contact: Marti Frazier or Ed Toscano.

Arkansas FrogWatch. Volunteers complete four hours of training that teaches them to identify the 17 species of frogs and toads in the Ozarks by their calls. The training, which counts as Advanced Training for NCAMN, includes wetlands, amphibians, frogs, and toads; why they are important; why they are in trouble; and how each of us can help. The second half of the training teaches volunteers how to select a monitoring site of their choice, conduct a five-minute listening session according to the FrogWatch protocol, and submit their data to a national database. Volunteers listen from February to August each year. Contact for Arkansas FrogWatch: Tom Krohn.