Ouachita National Forest
Ouachita National Forest. Photo by Aaron J Scott/Flickr
The Ouachita National Forest covers 1.8 million acres across Oklahoma and Arkansas. This beautiful forest has mountains, lakes, rivers and trails open to the public for exploration and recreational activities such as hiking, camping, biking, hunting and fishing.
This forest is also the location of what is formerly one of the largest contiguous wetland complexes within Oklahoma. Unfortunately, in the late 1960′s the area was drained, cleared and converted for agricultural use. These drastic changes have reduced, in some cases even eliminated, important wetland values such as natural flood control. In a preservation effort, the Fund obtained nearly 2,000 acres for the forest. This effort complemented the protection of 3,855 acres acquired in 1997, through a generous gift by the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
The restoration of these historic wetland resources has both ecological and cultural benefits. Already, many species of migratory birds, such as the White Ibis, long absent in this area, are returning. The local school system is interested in developing an outdoor classroom at the Red Slough sites, and artifacts of the Caddo and Choctaw tribes that once lived in the area have been preserved.