Bayou Bartholomew, which meanders 359 miles through southeastern Arkansas and northeastern Louisiana, will soon be the subject of a documentary film meant to help save one of North America’s most diverse streams, thanks in part to funding secured by the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
UAM Chancellor Jack Lassiter recently announced the receipt of a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the Department of Arkansas Heritage for $24,950 to help finance the $106,000 project, which is being produced by the Arkansas Educational Television Network.
“While we are happy that the university can play a small part in this project, I think it is wonderful that we have citizens in southeast Arkansas who are willing to work so hard to preserve one of this state’s natural wonders,” said Lassiter. “Bayou Bartholomew is worth saving and I applaud the efforts of so many who are working diligently to protect and restore this valuable asset.”
Once a pristine stream, Bayou Bartholomew is now polluted from agricultural run-off, log-jammed, and suffering the effect of heavy sedimentation deposit in sections. The bayou is known for its bream, catfish and crappie fishing.
The present bayou was formed by the waters of the Arkansas River, which changed course between 1,800 and 2,200 years ago, leaving the bayou in the old river bed.
Dr. Curtis Merrell of Monticello organized the Bayou Bartholomew Alliance in 1995 to restore and preserve the natural beauty of the bayou. In 2010, Merrell established the Bayou Bartholomew Task Force to pursue the goal of creating a documentary film about the bayou to raise awareness and help in restoration efforts.
Joining UAM as contributors to the documentary project are Commercial Bank and Trust of Monticello; SeaArk Boats, Silvicraft Timber, Mullis Insurance, Bulloch Real Estate, QuickSilver Timber, Gibson and Keith (attorneys), James Ross (attorney), Curtis Merrell, Bill Wisener, Dr. Marvin Jeter, Elizabeth Thurman, Robert Burch, Ron Echols, Bynum Gibson, Steve Morrison, Union Bank, all of Monticello; the Dermott Drainage District; the Wallace Trust Foundation in McGehee; W. Elton Kennedy of Louisiana; Sam Mullis, Jr. and Nell Ellison of Texas; Plant Maintenance and Construction of Crossett; Rebecca DeArmond Huskey; Simmons First Bank of Lake Village; Jack Edwards of Montrose; Ted Drake, Newton, Owen, Boyd and Smoke CPAs of Pine Bluff; and Mary N. Johnson of DeWitt.