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BAXTER AND MARION COUNTIES, ARKANSAS Irene Moke University of Arkansas Baxter and Marion counties in north-central Arkansas are counties in which good-sized multiple-purpose civil engineering projects have been constructed with federal funds. Norfolk Dam and lake are in Baxter county, Bull Shoals Dam and lake in Marion county (Figure 1). Since their completion other such projects have been undertaken in Arkansas and still others are under consideration, their construction often hotly debated. It is therefore of some interest to take a look at Marion and Baxter counties as examples of places in which completed projects have been in existence long enough for some evidence to have accumulated as to the effect of such projects on population and on occupations in the The setting Marion and Baxter counties are in the Arkansas Ozarks located on the Salem and Springfield uplands in north-central Arkansas in the drainage basin of the White River (Figure 1). The parts of the two counties north of crooked Creek and the White River are for the most part in the Salem Upland, while the southern sections are on the Springfield Upland. Surface rock is dominantly limestone with some sandstone in southwestern Marion county. Elevations in the Salem Upland are usually between 500 and 700 feet but occasionally reach 1000 feet. In the Springfield Upland elevations of 1500 feet are reached. Dissection is severe in areas adjacent to the streams and much of the surface is hilly. Local relief frequently reaches 500 feet in the southern areas and is sometimes in excess of that figure. Much of the southern parts of the counties consists of long narrow ridges and valleys with steep, stony slopes, a type of area referred to as "flintrock land". Along Crooked Creek, White River and the North Fork of the White bare rock bluffs with precipitous slopes are common. Just two areas of gently sloping to nearly flat terrain exist within the counties, known as "post oak flats". These consist of a small area in west-central Marion County and a larger one in the vicinity of Mountain Home in Baxter County. The rest of the counties is not excessively hilly like the southern areas but varies from strongly rolling to moderately hilly. The soils of the counties suffer from two unfavorable characteristics. Some of them are extremely cherty, while others are very heavy and impermeable. In general the more cherty soils are in the southern flintrock lands, while the impermeable soils are more common in the northern 48 parts of the counties. In places along the bluffs soils are of course completely missing.2 There is considerable tree cover in the southern parts of the counties with post-oak, blackjack oak and hickory the chief species. Part of the Ozark National Forest extends into southern Baxter County. Along the rocky slopes near the streams vegetation is very scanty but some of these areas support a growth of scrubby oaks, cedars, and a little grass. The slowly permeable soils of the north are a difficult medium for successful tree growth but have a moderate cover of slow-growing oaks with patches of grass, the oaks increasing in density on the somewhat more permeable soils of the Post Oak Flats. Fig. 1 These counties like the rest of Arkansas are classified as Humid Subtropical in climate. They are of course on the poleward margin of that climate, however. The period between killing frosts is from 190 to 200 days, and precipitation is ample for crop growth averaging somewhat over 40" a year and well distributed on the whole. Summers are hot and winters are fairly mild with the coldest month averaging four to six degrees above freezing. Summary: setting. From the standpoint of agricultural potential these counties have only modest natural assets. The chief agricultural resource 49 is the climate with its long growing season and ample rainfall. This asset is outweighed to an extent by soil and terrain problems. Forest resources are only moderately good at best. The blackjack oak has little value except for fuel. Hickory and post oak have more extensive uses but are not highly valued for lumber. Scenically, however, the counties have much to recommend them...


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