The Ross Foundation was founded in 1967, by Esther Clark Ross and her daughter, Jane Ross. The initial endowment consisting of approximately 18,000 acres of timberland was a part of the estate of J.G. Clark, Jane Ross’ grandfather, who was one of the early lumbermen of Clark County.
During the following years, additional acquisitions were made of various smaller tracts near or adjacent to the original land holdings. In 1993, The Ross Foundation purchased a large contiguous block of land from International Paper Company in Hot Spring and Garland Counties. Following the death of Jane Ross in 1999, The Ross Foundation received additional acres from Jane Ross’ estate. Additional acquisitions of adjacent tracts have contributed to a total land base of over 64,000 acres.
FOREST DIVERSITY AND TIMBER MANAGEMENT (with a section on Prescribed Burning, listed below the definitions and proposed to be put in as a hyperlink)
The Ross Foundation strives to maintain healthy and productive forestland that will be sustainable long into the future. Since all stands within the forest are not the same, maintaining a healthy forest requires the use of many different management tools to meet the specific needs of each stand-level forest management objective. The Ross Foundation’s land management staff evaluates individual timber stands to establish management objectives for the stand and to choose the management tools or techniques needed to accomplish those objectives. Examples of the techniques used include timber harvesting to meet specific goals in improving stand condition and value, herbicide applications and prescribed burning to control undesirable vegetation, and pre-commercial thinning to remove surplus and competing stems and provide space for the growing stock trees to develop.
The Ross Foundation land base is located in and along the boundary between the West Gulf Coastal Plain and the southeastern limit of the Ouachita Mountains. Because of the interface of these two physiographic regions, The Ross Foundation has many unique areas throughout its land, resulting in a variety of actively managed timber stands interspersed with pockets of relatively undisturbed natural plant communities.
Every year numerous visitors use Ross Foundation land to hunt a variety of game species. The most popular is white-tailed deer, followed closely by eastern wild turkey. These and other upland game species like the eastern cottontail and both fox and eastern gray squirrel can be found as well. Mourning dove and bob-white quail are present year round, and quail populations are showing signs of improvement in some areas.
A portion of Ross Foundation land in Clark County is managed cooperatively with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and is included in the leased land program as a part of Big Timber Wildlife Management Area (link to AGF?). The leased land program augments wildlife management areas on state owned land. Big Timber Wildlife Management Area is open to anyone with a valid hunting license and Big Timber special permit. Both are available from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, along with rules and regulations applying to users of the Wildlife Management Area.
PRESCRIBED BURNING PROGRAM
The use of fire is an integral part of forest management. Prescribed burning not only has the potential to enhance wildlife habitat and promote timber stand health, vigor, and diversity, it is a tool to lessen the occurrence of catastrophic wildfire. The Ross Foundation’s fire management program uses prescribed fire for specific objectives or for a combination of objectives, and that prescription is implemented under controlled conditions. Each objective usually requires a different method of burning, and a different season or time of application.
Hazard reduction (link to picture), a controlled burn to reduce fuel load, is conducted during the dormant season, or cool weather, to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and to make those fires that do occur much less dangerous and destructive. Woody brush control (link to picture), a prescribed burn implemented to kill or retard unwanted species in competition with desirable species, is more effective when done during the growing season, or warmer weather, when it is easier to create the desired amount of heat at ground level needed to kill the target species. Site preparation fires (link to picture) are done to remove excess logging slash and other debris to clean an area for regeneration. Fire also reduces the number of insect pests that may attack newly planted seedlings, and releases nutrients to new seedlings as they become established.
As urban sprawl and proliferation of country living continues to grow, smoke management has become more of an issue with which fire managers must deal. The Ross Foundation strives at all times to conduct burns so that smoke from fires does not adversely affect people in the surrounding area. Pre-burn planning for each burn day includes coordinating forecasted wind directions and other climatic conditions with burn site location in an effort to minimize smoke drift into sensitive areas such as residential areas and nearby highways.
Note: Provide a link to the post here regarding our current burn scheduling? Allow users the ability to sign up for a notice via email with regard to scheduled burns on Ross Foundation property? This would be in addition to what is posted on the main page of Ross Foundation website?