West Arkansas Has Slice of Old-Growth Forest Found in Oklahoma, Texas

March 25, 2006 - Posted at 12:14 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK (AP) _ The Cross Timbers ecosystem that is a

recognized geographic element of central Oklahoma and northern

Texas apparently has a few outriders in western Arkansas.

University of Arkansas researchers Daniel Griffin and Jesse

Edmondson made presentations Friday to a conference on old-growth

timber. Both focused on the Cross Timbers area that is a transition

zone between western grasslands and eastern forests.

Griffin speculates that the region got its name from its

characteristic alternation with grasslands in Oklahoma and Texas.

He says pioneers saw belts of the forest running north-to-south

across the grasslands.

The researchers say the nature of the woodlands would have

caught the pioneers' attention because it was much more difficult

to traverse than the grasslands.

The Cross Timbers terrain is significant because it has a high

proportion of old-growth forest. In Arkansas, the section still

standing is on land at the former Fort Chaffee near Fort Smith. The

researchers say how that land will be managed or used is still an

open question.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)