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On December 1, 2010, Petit Jean State Park’s historic Mather Lodge closed its doors – but not forever.  The lodge closed for more than a year’s restoration, renovation and major rebuilding.  On the first of December, for the first time in nearly a half-century, the day had come again to begin construction on a modern new restaurant to adjoin the old lodge – a restaurant designed by architects to capture…

Read More The Once and Future Mather Lodge

Spring has come to the park once again. I love the smells and sounds of this time of year. There are tiny buds all over the trees. The spring birds are back and filling up the air with their songs.  The winter bleakness is behind us. The warm air hits my face as I hike on one of our trails here at Lake Catherine State Park. I decide to hike…

Read More An Adventure in Spring

If you asked me what I ate for dinner yesterday, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t remember. Yet, I can recall in such detail—and with such clarity—encounters I’ve experienced in Arkansas’s state parks over the past 37 years since that winter day in 1973 when I, like so many of my colleagues here at Arkansas State Parks, choose this park system to be my life’s work, too. Those myriad moments—personal, poignant…

Read More Parks—Places Where “Everlasting Moments” Are Born

“Experiencing the changes in life over the years has meant more to me than simple aging.  It has meant watching the landscape and the world become more tame, drab, and developed.  Human life and wildlife are both losing their world.”   – Barbara Kerr I have spent more than a few hours in January reviewing Ken Burns’ recent documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea and have learned a great deal…

Read More Petit Jean State Park: A Place Where You Can Go Home Again

In a world where the pace of change sometimes seems to accelerate daily, it’s nice to know that there are still places that don’t change so rapidly or so much.  One of my favorites of these special places is Petit Jean State Park.  When I compare the natural beauty I see here now with what I saw more than a quarter of a century ago, I can’t think of anything…

Read More The Timelessness of Petit Jean State Park