By Don Culwell
On Saturday, May 19, 2012, twenty-one hikers arrived at South Fork to be led by Brent Baker in exploring the ecosystems on the peninsula. Gathering and greeting around the old cabin in midmorning, Almeda Riddle’s birthplace, Don Richardson of the Gates Rogers Foundation Board) welcomed the group and spoke about the history of South Fork.
Don Culwell addressed the mission of South fork, to educate the public in providing a greater understanding and love for nature, and noted the many and varied activities that have occurred as docents have lead activities from nature art to walks along trails learning about plants, animals, and their ecosystems.
Brent Baker, a botanist with the AR Natural Heritage commission who led the day’s walk along the trails, had join Theo Witsell way back in 2005, at the request of the Board, for the year-long study of all the plants growing at South Fork, a study that put South Fork “on the map” as being the tract of land in AR with the most intensive plant study anywhere in the state (their study and its findings are recorded in the Proceedings of the AR Academy of Science and are linked to the South Fork web site; www/southforknaturecenter.org).
Lunch at the picnic tables around the cabin provided time to rest with a bottle of cold water and discuss Native Plant Society activities as well as botanical finds of the morning. The day of hiking nearly 2 miles of trail was a fine one with a gentle breeze and temperatures around 80 degrees…it was a time to relax with friends from a week of one’s regular activities, and enjoy nature.