This evening at the Clinton School – Theo Witsell discusses his Bicentenary interpretation of Thomas Nuttall’s exploration of the Arkansas Territory

Image result for theo witsellThe year 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the great botanist and naturalist Thomas Nuttall’s year-long journey of discovery through the Arkansas Territory, present day Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Tonight at 6pm, as part of the Clinton School Speaker Series, Theo Witsell will discuss Nuttall’s trek and the implications it has for today.

Nuttall would be the first trained naturalist to record observations and collect specimens in most of the territory. His first-hand account of this trip, later published as “A Journal of Travels into the Arkansas Territory in the Year 1819,” provides some of the earliest reliable information on the natural history of the region. These observations and his surviving botanical specimens are central to our understanding of what the region was like before it was forever altered by the ravages of human progress.

To commemorate the bicentennial of Nuttall’s trip, Theo Witsell, Ecologist and Chief of Research for the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and the Curator of the ANHC Herbarium, worked for the past several years on a “200 years later” reinterpretation of all the natural history observations he made in Arkansas Territory.

This included retracing his route using both historical and modern geospatial datasets, updating the nomenclature and taxonomy of all the plants and animals he mentions, and weaving his own observations gained over the past 24 years conducting field work for the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. The aim is to provide a fairly detailed interpretation of Nuttall’s natural history observations, and discuss changes in the landscape since his trip, specifically as they relate to ecological and biological diversity.

All Clinton School Speaker Series events are free and open to the public. Reserve your seats by emailing or by calling (501) 683-5239.


american-princes-lost-fortyThis December Lost Forty Brewing will celebrate 2 years of creating craft beer for Arkansas with one helluva party. There is no better way to celebrate this milestone than rocking out with one of Little Rocks most beloved bands – American Princes. Join us for an incredibly special AMERICAN PRINCES REUNION concert in the brewhouse to benefit The Lost Forty Project foundation and to celebrate all things local.

• Doors to the brewhouse open at 6:00pm.
• Welcome from Lost Forty & Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission at 6:30pm
• Show starts at 7:00pm-ish
• Beer and Snacks served in the brewhouse from 6:00pm – 9:30pm
• Show ends at 9:00pm-ish
(yeah… we said “ish” a few times … don’t be lame and get all wrapped up in the details, just come party with us.)
• All ages welcome (not recommended for anyone under 14)

There will not be a charge for the show, however a $5 donation for the Lost Forty Project Foundation in partnership with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission is suggested.

Sandwich in History today at the White-Baucum House

ahpp White-Baucum HouseThe monthly architectural history program “Sandwiching in History” visits the White-Baucum House, located at 201 South Izard Street. The program begins at noon today.  A historian with the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program delivers a brief lecture about the church before leading guests on a tour.

This Italianate-style house was built in 1869-1870 for Robert J. T. White, then-Arkansas secretary of state, and was enlarged in the mid-1870s by its second owner, businessman George F. Baucum. The White-Baucum House was recently rehabilitated using federal and state tax incentives to serve as office space.

Sandwiching in History is a program of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.  The AHPP is responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering and preserving the state’s cultural resources. Other DAH agencies are the Arkansas Arts Council, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and the Historic Arkansas Museum.

New Deputy Director for Arkansas Heritage announced

DAH Dep DirStacy Hurst, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH), announced today that she has named Rebecca Burkes as the new deputy director for DAH. Burkes holds an M.S. in operations management from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and a Juris Doctorate from the Baylor University School of Law.

“I am very happy to bring Rebecca on board to help lead and manage DAH,” said Hurst. “Her skills in managing organizations and people will be a tremendous asset to us. Our seven separate agencies, operating under the larger umbrella of Heritage, will benefit greatly from her skills.”

Burkes most recently was an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, Madison. Previous to that, she lived in Northwest Arkansas, where she practiced law in Fayetteville (1993-95), was corporate counsel at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., in Bentonville (1995-98) and was vice president and chief counsel for the Burkes Company, a diversified real estate development, construction and brokerage company (1998-2011).

The Department of Arkansas Heritage, through its seven agencies, seeks to recognize the state’s heritage and to enhance Arkansas’s quality of life through the discovery, preservation and presentation of the state’s cultural, natural and historic resources. The agencies are Arkansas Arts Council, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Delta Cultural Center, Historic Arkansas Museum, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center and Old State House Museum.

Hurst to lead Department of Arkansas Heritage

stacy-hurstYesterday Governor-Elect Asa Hutchinson announced that Stacy J. Hurst of Little Rock will be the next director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

“Stacy is extremely bright and hardworking, and she understands the importance of protecting and preserving our state’s incredibly rich history and culture. I have no doubt she will do a remarkable job in her new position as the director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage,” Hutchinson said.

As director of the agency, she will serve as the state’s chief preservation officer. She will oversee the Arkansas Arts Council, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Delta Cultural Center, Historic Arkansas Museum, Mosaic Templar’s Cultural Center, and Old State House Museum.

From January 2003 until December 2014, Hurst represented Ward 3 on the Little Rock City Board.  A native of Pine Bluff, she moved to Little Rock in 1985 after graduating from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville with a degree in Communications.  Since 1996, she has worked at Tipton & Hurst, Inc.  Prior to that, she worked for Arkansas Children’s Hospital Foundation for twelve years, retiring from the organization as Vice President.

From January 2007 to December 2008, she served as Vice Mayor of the City of Little Rock.  Prior to her election to the City Board, she served as co-chair of the Vision Little Rock, Recreation and Tourism workgroup.  She also served as a member of the Little Rock Zoo Board of Governors from 2000 to 2002.

Hurst chaired the three (3)-year community-wide planning process that led to a vision and Master Plan for the renovation of War Memorial Park.  Since the plan was adopted by the Board, over $2 million has been devoted to improvements within this signature park.  She was instrumental in the revitalization of the Midtown Redevelopment Corridor.  These efforts started with the Statement of Expectations planning document and a Design Overlay District adopted by the Planning Commission and board of Directors.  As a result of this work, tens of millions of dollars of private investment in the Midtown Corridor that continues today.

She was founding chair and board member of the City Parks Conservancy, which raises money for the City’s parks.  She has served as chair of the Nature Conservancy Board of Trustees in Arkansas.  She is currently a sustaining member of the Junior League of Little Rock, after having led the League’s efforts to purchase and restore the historic Women’s City Club in downtown.  Her numerous other community memberships include the Nature Conservancy,Arkansas Arts Center, Youth Home Board of Trustees, Arkansas Women’s Forum, CARTI Foundation Board of Trustees, Little Rock Garden Club, First Tee of Arkansas Board of Trustees, Arkansas Children’s Hospital Auxiliary, Alzheimer’s Arkansas Advisory Board.

LR Cultural Touchstone: Jane Rogers

Jane RogersJane Rogers is a Little Rock native who has had a hand in developing two different cultural entities in her hometown.  She helped organize the first Riverfest to be held in Riverfront Park in 1983.  Continuing her involvement, she later served as the first full-time executive director of Riverfest.  Under her leadership the festival experienced significant growth.  This, in turn, brought more people down to the banks of the Arkansas River and the new Riverfront Park.  Because of this, more people were familiar with the area which helped the fledgling River Market take hold in the mid-1990s.

Shortly after he became Governor, Mike Huckabee tapped her to lead the Department of Arkansas Heritage.  In that capacity, she oversaw the Arkansas Arts Council, Old State House Museum, Historic Arkansas Museum, Delta Cultural Center, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program and Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission.  She served as Director for two years.

In 2003, she was appointed to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.  In that capacity, she has been involved in efforts to strengthen cultural offerings and facilities at the various campuses in the University of Arkansas system.

Her most recent cultural endeavor has been as a founder of Sculpture at the River Market.  In 2007, she helped recruit volunteers to create Little Rock’s first nation-wide sculpture invitational show and sale.  Since that time, Sculpture at the River Market has built a $2,000,000+ collection of public sculpture placed in beautiful surroundings along the banks of the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock.  As a result of pieces of these efforts, the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden was created in Riverfront Park.

Martha Miller new director at Department of Arkansas Heritage

MARTHA MILLER: New Heritage leader.Last week, Governor Mike Beebe announced that Martha Miller would be the new Director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.  She succeeds Cathie Matthews, who retired at the end of 2012 after serving for 15 years.

In making the announcement the governor noted, “Martha is a life-long Arkansan who has strong experience within the department and with state government. Promoting her from her position as deputy director was an easy and sensible decision in light of Cathie Matthews’ retirement.

Miller, 60, previously served as Deputy Director for the Department of Arkansas Heritage Museums. Formerly a self-employed attorney and lobbyist, she has served on the boards of Lyon College (her alma mater), the Little Rock Interfaith Hospitality Network and Audubon Arkansas.

The Department of Arkansas Heritage’s mission is to identify Arkansas’ heritage and enhance the quality of life by the discovery, preservation, and presentation of the state’s cultural, historic and natural resources. The agency oversees the Arkansas Arts Council, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Delta Cultural Center, Historic Arkansas Museum, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center and the Old State House Museum.