Those who are fortunate enough to be living in the city of Centerton in Benton County, Arkansas will no doubt appreciate the beautiful countryside that surrounds them which includes the rugged, unspoilt terrain of the Ozark Mountains. At the heart of the Ozarks lies the Ozark National Forests that consists of two main areas covering over a million acres of land, most of which lies in the North-western part of the state.
The word Ozark originated from the English translation of “Aux Arcs,” which in turn was the name designated to the Native American tribe who inhabited the area when it was first discovered by a French explorer several centuries ago. This means “with bows,” which aptly described the Bow Indians who were among the first to settle in the region. This fertile land with its lush vegetative cover and thriving wildlife was ideal for the early hunter-gatherers who claimed this land as their own however it is equally popular with hunters today. The region still provides the perfect natural habitat for an abundance of creatures including rabbits, turkeys, squirrels, deer and even black bears while areas like the shores and waters of the lake will also yield the likes of dove, duck, geese and quail. Parts of the forest even have a rifle range available where would-be hunters can practice their shooting skills on a 100 or 200 yard rifle range but a 50 yard pistol range is also available as is one for handguns.
The state of Arkansas has at least 2,600 flora and exotic plant life species and many are indigenous to the Ozark National Forrest but it is the thick belt of trees that make up most of its landscape for which it is most renowned. These include broad tulip trees and bulky beeches as well as stretches of towering pines of various kinds, while dogwood, maple, redbud, serviceberry and witch-hazel also dominate the dense landscape. The Mexican Juniper is a small dropping tree or shrub that is another common feature that can be found growing in great quantities along the banks of the White River that runs through part of the forest. In the southern areas and lowlands down to the Mississippi Valley, there are an abundance of cypresses, oak and hickory growing in the woodland there and in the St Francis Valley you will even find the rare cork tree. These are generally at their most beautiful in the spring when their branches come to life with new leaves and blossom while the fall also offers magnificent vistas as the leaves change color and the countryside is transformed into a vibrant mass of autumn colors with hues of red, orange, yellow copper and gold. In addition, the state can also boast that there are around twenty six species of orchid native to its lands while the passion flowers, an evergreen climber species with its striking and exotic blooms, is another common plant that you will find growing in abundance. This was almost selected as Arkansas’ State Flower but missed out to the apple blossom which is synonymous with the many orchards that covered large parts of the state’s agricultural areas.