Members of the Bayou Chapter of the Ozark Society have taken their desire for outdoors adventure all over the country.


Members of the Bayou Chapter of the Ozark Society have taken their desire for outdoors adventure all over the country.


Saturday’s paddle of Bayou Bartholomew, however, was the group’s first trip to Morehouse Parish, according to chapter president Harvey Kennedy.


“We’ve paddled [the portion of Bartholomew that runs through] Arkansas, but this is the first time we’ve done Bartholomew in Louisiana,” he said. “It was our first float trip in northeast Louisiana.”


The Bayou Chapter, based in Shreveport, is a regional satellite of Ozark Society Inc., founded in 1962 for the initial purpose of saving the Buffalo River in Arkansas from being dammed. Regional chapters of the society are active in planning hikes, overnight backpack trips, camp-outs, paddle trips and other forms of outdoors recreation and conservation.


Harvey said the Bayou Chapter became interested in paddling Bartholomew due to the recent publication of the first paddle trail brochure in the LSU AgCenter’s “Northeast Louisiana: Outdoor Series” project. Members spent Friday night at the Starr Homeplace in Oak Ridge and were led on the float trip, up Chemin-A-Haut Creek from its mouth and then up the bayou from Chemin-A-Haut State Park to the Old Berlin Hwy. Bridge, by Homeplace founder Joe Rolfe, who presented a program on Bartholomew for the chapter last year.


“We had eight vessels and ten people,” said Rolfe. “They brought their own canoes and kayaks and we took a caravan up to the park on Saturday morning. I thought about having everyone drive around the courthouse with the canoes on top of the cars so everyone could see.”


At a depth of about two feet, the water proved high enough for successful paddling, but also low enough for chapter members to pick up litter as they floated.


“They were able to pick up an old tire, which is something of an accomplishment in a canoe,” said Rolfe.


Kennedy said collecting litter such as cans and bottles is a common aspect of the group’s trips.


“The Ozark Society motto is ‘Conservation, Education, Recreation,’” he said. “So we try to work a little conservation into our trips. Relatively speaking, Bartholomew is a clean compared to other bayous we’ve visited.”


Kennedy said the group was impressed by the beauty of Bartholomew and were particularly fascinated by the ancient cypress trees in Chemin-A-Haut Creek, some of which are believed to be at least 1,000 years old. The chapter is planning to return for a longer float trip on Bartholomew this fall.


Photos and information about the Bartholomew adventure will be included in the July edition of the group’s monthly newsletter, “The Bayou Byline.” To learn more about the Bayou Chapter of the Ozark Society, visit the group on Facebook or at their new Web site (