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It's time to kick off this year's Back 40 Story -- a series of informational guided hikes on Bella Vista's Back 40 Trails. The first hike will be led by Cris and Eleanor Jones, Arkansas master naturalists, and will help participants learn to identify dormant winter trees. The hike is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Bear Hollow Trailhead.

The Back 40 Story hikes are free and open to the public.

Cris Jones earned a bachelor of science degree in forestry at Louisiana State University in 1961, a master of science in forest business management at Duke University in 1965 and a master of business administration at Oral Roberts University in 1991. Although his career in forestry was not long, followed by going into his family's business and then becoming a CPA before retiring in 2016, he has maintained his love of forestry and the outdoors as a landowner and tree farmer through the years. In the spring of 2016, he and his wife Eleanor completed the Arkansas master naturalist training program and are using their skills and knowledge to help others learn about and appreciate the beautiful Northwest Arkansas natural environment.

As Arkansas master naturalists, they participate in work projects to help or improve the ecology. Eleanor, who learned everything she knows about trees from Botany 101, her father's inspiration and Cris' lifelong instruction, will assist in the hike. They lived in Benton County for 21 years in a mountain-top home surrounded by 100 beautiful acres, where they built their own trails and Cris did not rest until he knew every tree in the forest. They moved to Pea Ridge in 2016.

This hike will take place on the Back 40 Loop trail, from the Bear Hollow Trailhead east to the Tower Trailhead. Shuttle service will be provided to return hikers to their vehicles. This hike is approximately 2.5 miles on intermediate terrain.

Future event meeting locations and topics will be announced prior to each hike's date. Most hikes are moderately strenuous and require appropriate shoes and clothing. Participants should also bring insect repellent, sunscreen and water. The Back 40 Trails are singletrack, which means they are dirt, narrow and sometimes rocky or have exposed tree roots. The trails are not appropriate for strollers. Friendly dogs are welcome on a leash.

Other topics from years past have included archaeology, entomology, wildflowers, native plants, wild mushrooms and more.

Sports on 01/30/2019

Print Headline: The Back 40 Story February 2019 hike: Dormant tree ID

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