Archive for February, 2010

Preserving the Sicily Island Hills

Posted: February 17, 2010 in Homepage

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One of the many goals of this blog is to help preserve the Sicily Island Hills, not for my exclusive benefit, but for the enjoyment of future generations. I feel a deep sense of responsibility to encourage people to protect the Sicily Island Hills for while I am not the only one spreading the word about this place, the reach of the Internet is worldwide. I am just one individual but we need thousands to be watchdogs to prevent abuse and destruction of this incredible space.  As we will see in coming years as we look back at the photographs taken here, we shall visually track the progress or the decline of these hills.

What can we do now to help this cause?

  • Avoid the temptation to carve your name or other messages into the soft rocks in the gorge.
  • Buy a Wild Louisiana Stamp. Purchase of these stamps provides funds for the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program.
  • Walk lightly and realize your visitation can and does affect the environment here.
  • When visiting pack out your trash and although its a pain, pick up the trash that others leave behind.

Rock Falls

Educate others about how special the Sicily Island Hills are and how they can be a peaceful and wonderful retreat for generations to come if we only appreciate and protect this special place.

Little Bryce Canyon

In places like the above photograph, which I call Little Bryce Canyon, erosion has taken its toll on its natural beauty. This spot and places similar to it at Sicily Island Hills have changed dramatically due to the fragile nature of the soil and heavy rainfall so typical of Louisiana. The above photograph was taken approximately 2005, but as seen on my other posts or on the Photo/Maps page it no longer exhibits the vivid columnar formations. For example, look at my February 12, 2010 post and see the difference in the photo titled “Little Bryce Canyon after Snow”. While the photos were taken by two different people, and from  different angles, the changes are very apparent.

I enjoy canoeing, but I have not yet dipped a paddle in the waters in or around the Sicily Island Hills. Kayaking is another interesting proposition. The two most likely streams that present possibilities are the Ouachita River, which skirts the western boundary of the Sicily Island Hills, and Big Creek which is within these hills flowing from northeast to southwest, terminating at its junction with the Ouachita. Three other streams that are much smaller and less likely to afford paddling options are Coke Creek and Sandy Bayou on the northwest corner of the wildlife management area and Little Creek on the southwest corner of the Sicily Island Hills.

Remember to respect property rights when you are in these areas, as some of the streams are not entirely in the state wildlife management area.

Floating the Ouachita River should be taken with great caution and respect for the current. It should not be done at very high water such as occurred this past fall. Nor should an inexperienced canoer or kayaker take on this river alone. Lack of preparation or high water could bring a deadly result.

There is a boat launching area on the east bank of the Ouachita River, a few miles south of the mouth of Big Creek, maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Check it out by clicking on my Ouachita River Recreation link at left. Once you are at the Corps site, scroll down to Harrisonburg Landing Recreation Area for a description of the area and a link to a map of the area. Along the left margin of this Corps site is a contact link as well as a link to river levels.

Big Creek near the Ouachita River is float-able for a short distance. Most of the length of Big Creek is shallow, with broad sand bars.
So unless you catch the perfect  weather scenario, you will be carrying a canoe or kayak more than you will be paddling it.

But with the wild weather wonder we call Louisiana climate, anything can happen, even heavy snow fall. So I am optimistic that running rapids will be possible at some point in time within the Sicily Island Hills.

February Snow in the Sicily Island Hills

Posted: February 12, 2010 in Homepage
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Snow Photographs taken on February 12, 2010 by Landon Powers.

Snow in the Sicily Island Hills! If you had purchased land and built a cabin as I suggested in a previous post, you would be enjoying a hot cup of tea by the window as you look out at a wonderful Sicily Island Hills snow covered view.

Lovers Leap

In open areas the snow really piled up.

Snowy Day at Lovers Leap

The National Weather Service lists over 6 inches of snow  for February 12th,reported in the villages of Harrisonburg and Sicily Island, there could possibly have been more.

Snow on stump along Rock Falls trail

Snow February 12, 2010

Oddly, the photograph above, taken just after the snow ended, and before it could melt shows Rock Falls with a slightly larger than normal volume of flow.

Lovers Leap Area Snow

Snow in the Forest above Rock Falls

Rock Falls Parking Area

"Little Bryce Canyon" after Snow

Snow on Northside of SIHWMA

Base of Old Fire Tower in Background

Edge of Lovers Leap

Lovers Leap View

Hiking the Sicily Island Hills is a great way to leave the city behind and revel in the natural beauty of the forest and waterfalls.

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Rock Falls February 12, 2010

Remember that the majority of the Sicily Island Hills and the roads that lead into them are within the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries wildlife management area. Therefore, you need to be in possession of one of the following, a valid Wild Louisiana Stamp, a valid LDWF hunting License orvalid LDWF fishing License.

At the very least, I would suggest to you the purchase of a Wild Louisiana Stamp for the unbelievable price of $5.50. The reason I would use that adjective is, how many things can you do in this life over and over again and only pay $5.50? With a valid Wild Louisiana Stamp in hand you can visit any of the Louisiana state wildlife management areas repeatedly for an entire year. So, if you visit a Louisiana state wma, be sure to have the proper license or stamp. A citation for not having the before mentioned could hurt your wallet and ruin your trip. Also, these licenses and stamps are only valid on Louisiana state wma’s, not federal areas.

But an even better reason to purchase a Wild Louisiana Stamp is that the purchase of this stamp provides much needed operating funds for the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program. Scientists working in this program work tirelessly to study and preserve our environment statewide, in places just like the Sicily Island Hills.

Another wonderful value is membership in the Louisiana Hiking Club. The LHC, of which I am a member, engages in hikes within Louisiana’s borders and also takes hiking trips to other parts of the lower 48. For a mere $10 annual membership, you can join this group to enjoy hiking experiences, meet other hikers from around the state,volunteer to work on trail maintenance projects and learn camping techniques.

You may click the Louisiana Hiking Club link at left to visit their website.