Loring Bullard hopedÂ there would be enough interest in our land, water, air and wildlife to revive the long-dormant Schoolcraft Chapter of the Ozark Society.
Bullard, former executive director of the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, sent out an email appeal. Within minutes, he had his answer.
Close to 20 people so far have said they want to join.
The original Ozark Society came together in Arkansas to successfully fight the construction of a dam on the Buffalo River. Out of that effort â the Buffalo became the country’s first “national river” and is now protected as a national park â other Ozark Society chapters formed.
Bullard wants to revive the Schoolcraft Chapter of Ozark Society, which was active in the 1970s but eventually lost impetus and disbanded.
“I don’t have an issue to throw out there, but I like the Ozark Society’s science-based focus on conservation, education and recreation,” Bullard said.Â “We do know that CAFOs and having local control of our environment is a significant issue.Â Water quality is always on the front burner.”
Bullard said he sees the new Schoolcraft chapter â named after Ozarks explorer Henry Schoolcraft âÂ as a chance toÂ gatherÂ like-minded folks who want to protect and conserve the Ozarks environment and see what kind of things they’d like the chapter to pursue.
In its early days, the Schoolcraft chapter looked at trying to add more designated wilderness areas in southern Missouri.Â Bullard said that might be a topic worth reviving.
There likely will be bylaws and committees and yearly dues for members,Â but Bullard said he does not see the new Schoolcraft chapter as having monthly meetings.
“I’d like to plan our meetings to be outings in nature,” he said.Â “Have our meetings on a float trip or a hike, for example. I think people are starting to wake up to the fact that there’s great stuff close to home that we have to take care of.”
Although no dam was built on the Buffalo River, Bullard notes that the Arkansas Ozark Society was active in opposing a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) hog farm that was allowed to be built on a tributary stream that flowed into the Buffalo.
Just this week, Arkansas officials announced the hog farm was permanently closed, though the state had to pay its owners $6.2 million to shut it down. The state also agreed to remove the hog-waste lagoons and do any environmental cleanup that’s needed.
The Buffalo River hog farm issue is an example of why Todd Parnell, environmentalist and former president of Drury University, said the Schoolcraft chapter needs to be revived.
“I want to be part of the revived Schoolcraft Chapter of the Ozark Society to support the organization’s continuingÂ efforts to protect wild and scenic rivers, and landscapes,” Parnell said in an email.
“Revitalizing the Schoolcraft Chapter of the Ozark Society is particularly timely given the significant relaxation of Missouri state regulations regarding CAFOs, and the failure of our local elected officials to stand up to the legislatureâs elimination of local controls and health ordinances regarding their placement and operation.Â There is a real and ongoing threat to Ozarks streams and rivers going forward, and I look forward to joining with others to confront it.Â The Ozark Society will see to that.”
John Havel,Â professor emeritus in the Missouri State University Biology Department, said he was pleased whenÂ heÂ came to Springfield 30 years ago and sawÂ many clear-flowing streams and mostly clear reservoirs.
“Besides enjoying recreation on local streams with my kayak, I took advantage of the wealth of freshwater resources as a living laboratory for my students at MSU,” he wrote in an email. “We canât assume water quality will remain the same.”
Havel said extreme-rainfall events are becoming more common, and overflow of waste lagoons or runoff from land application of fertilizers brings oxygen-consuming wastes that can cause significant fish kills and also introduce pollution into groundwater.
He saidÂ local nonprofits, such as the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks and the James River Basin Partnership, have done a great job encouraging citizen involvement and communication betweenÂ state agencies, local governments, and industries.
“The Ozark Society, which is active in both Arkansas and Missouri, has a purpose to preserve wild and scenic rivers, as well as other wilderness and unique natural areas,” he said.
“Reactivating the Springfield chapter should enhance common interests with this broader group. We can probably learn some things from each other.”
Read or Share this story: https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2020/01/08/ozark-society-schoolcraft-chapter-arkansas/2806840001/