Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Join One (or all) of These Today!

Next time you are out enjoying a nice hike in Arkansas or a scenic float down one of the state's many amazing rivers be sure to take a minute to appreciate the exhaustive efforts that numerous organizations have made to make your trip possible.  In Arkansas, we face continued attempts to weaken water quality standards and eliminate funding for trails and bike lanes.  The organizations below all work to promote outdoor activities and protect our environmental resources.  If you enjoy hiking, biking, paddling, rock climbing, birding, fishing, walking, or just breathing clean air and drinking clean water, consider taking the time to join one or more of the these organizations that best fit your interests.  If I've missed your favorite organization, leave a comment explaining why I should add it!

Audubon Arkansas - I worked here for four great years.  Audubon does environmental education, outreach, policy, habitat improvement, and conservation work.  What makes them unique is their focus on getting underserved populations outdoors.  They have a ~400 ac. nature center in Little Rock that connects to Fourche Bottoms.

Arkansas Canoe Club - If you love kayaking, canoeing, or rafting, this is the organization for you.  The ACC provides tons of information on great floats and water levels on their website.  Their message board is a great place to find deals on equipment and get tips on places to float.  The group is also a strong advocate for protecting streams and water quality in Arkansas.

Beaver Watershed Alliance - This relatively young organization works to maintain high quality drinking water in Beaver Lake and improve water quality on the Beaver Lake Watershed.  This has the side benefit of protecting and improve water quality and scenery in many floatable streams including: War Eagle Creek, Richland Creek, and the White River.

Environmental Defense Fund - This is one of my favorite environmental nonprofits.  While their Arkansas office is more focused on corporate sustainability, the organization as a whole does lots of work finding practical, science-based, economically sound, solutions for protecting air and water quality.

The Nature Conservancy - TNC is largely focused on acquiring and protecting areas of Arkansas with unique or threatened species and ecosystems.  They do lots of stream and prairie restoration work and conduct controlled burns throughout the state.

Friends of the Ouachita Trail - Their mission statement says it all: "FoOT is organized exclusively to provide assistance for the maintenance, enhancement and use of the Ouachita National Recreation Trail."

The Ozark Society works to preserve our wild and scenic rivers, wilderness, and unique natural areas.  They played a major role in protecting the Buffalo River from being dammed, and in making it the first National River under the National Park Service.

Rails to Trails Conservancy - This national organization works to promote trails, in particular, as you may have guessed from their name, the conversion of old unused rail beds to bike and pedestrian trails. Examples include the unpaved Old Railroad Trail in Gilbert, the RiverTrail in Little Rock, and the Birke-Gilman Trail in Seattle.

Sierra Club - The Sierra Club organizes outings and works hard to educate the public and protect our environment.  Much of their recent work in the state has been on fighting dirty coal power plants and raising awareness of the true cost of our dependence on coal and crude oil.  They have chapters in NW and Central Arkansas that meet regularly.

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