Chuck Leavell, host of “America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell,” right, floats down the Buffalo National River with Arkansas State Forester Joe Fox, left. Two episodes of the PBS series were filmed in Arkansas last year.
PBS series episodes filmed in Arkansas The Forests of America with Chuck Leavell will premiere in back-to-back free screenings on Thursday, April 21 in Fayetteville and Bentonville. These two half-hour episodes shed light on what’s unique about Arkansas through interviews with a range of stakeholders in forest culture and economy across regions of the state.
A screening event for the U of A campus community will take place from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. on April 21 at Vol Walker Hall. A public screening will take place from 4-5:30 p.m. that day at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Registration for the Crystal Bridges event is available at: crystalbridges.org/calendar/april-film-americas-forests.
These projections are presented thanks to a collaboration between the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, Crystal Bridges and the producers of The Forests of America with Chuck Leavell. Each event will include a conversation with Leavell, as well as a short performance of music from his career. Each event will also include a screening of a 30-minute version of the documentary Chuck Leavell: The Tree Manwhich shows how Leavell shares his talents between music, forests and family.
Leavell is perhaps best known as the keyboardist and musical director of the Rolling Stones, but he is also an educated and enthusiastic forestry advocate, conservationist and arborist. As host of America’s forests series, Leavell serves as an on-camera guide, traveling across the country to interview people who are passionate about the gifts provided by forests and exploring creative solutions to complex issues impacting this important natural resource. The series is produced by Choose Outdoors and 42 Degrees North Media.
The production team filmed both Arkansas episodes at locations across the state in 2021. The episodes celebrate the natural resources and cultural heritage of Arkansas, which is nearly 57% forested, with nearly of 12 billion trees of various species growing on nearly 19 million acres.
“Shooting in Arkansas was truly an inspiring experience,” Leavell said. “The wonderful people we met across the state, the beautiful scenery and outdoor adventures, and the introduction to the many benefits of Arkansas’ forests have all made our time in this beautiful state truly enjoyable. memory that I will always cherish.”
Chuck Leavell, host of ‘America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell’, tours the construction lab at the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design while filming the Arkansas episodes.
The Ozarks episode features interviews with Dean Peter MacKeith on the U of A campus; Arkansas State Forester Joe Fox while floating down the Buffalo National River from Ponca; Structurlam Mass Timber Corporation CEO Hardy Wentzel and Governor Asa Hutchinson at Structurlam’s first US location in Conway; and Becca Ohman, garden manager, at Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs. While at Blanchard Springs Caverns, Leavell took advantage of the caves’ unique acoustics to play mandolin with local musicians.
The Delta episode features interviews with Kyle Miller, director of the Delta Cultural Center in Helena; Debbie Doss, founder of the Arkansas Watertrails Partnership, among the tupelo and bald cypress swamps of Bayou DeView; Ross Whipple, landowner and conservationist, Big Lake Hunting Club; and John Ed Anthony, Chairman of the Board, and Steven Anthony, President of Anthony Timberlands, a Bearden family business. They also highlighted an ecosystem restoration project in the Ouachita National Forest to help recover the white-faced woodpecker. At the Delta Cultural Center, Leavell played keyboards in a jam session with local blues musicians.
The Anthony family has been in the lumber business for five generations in southern Arkansas. John Ed Anthony and his wife, Isabel, have donated $7.5 million for the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation, a new design-stage research and education facility for the Fay Jones School.
“These episodes demonstrate the virtues and value of Arkansas’ forests to a wider national audience,” Dean Peter MacKeith said, “and they highlight the incredible work being done by so many across the state in the fields of forestry, conservation, stewardship, economic development and innovation action for the greater good Working with Chuck Leavell and the production team was truly special and rewarding.
“The support we received from so many different people and organizations made our two episodes truly special,” said Bruce Ward, executive producer of The Forests of America with Chuck Leavell. “From government agencies to the timber industry to conservation organizations, individual donors and the University of Arkansas, we were welcomed and provided all the resources we needed to produce these incredible episodes. .”
These Arkansas episodes of The Forests of America with Chuck Leavell were made possible by funding provided in part by Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Forestry Division), Arkansas Department of Commerce, Department of Parks, of Arkansas Heritage and Tourism, Arkansas Forestry Association (Education Division), STIHL, PotlatchDeltic, The Ross Foundation, Herren Hickingbotham, Chip Murphy and Ross and Mary Whipple. It was produced in association with the US Department of Agriculture and the US Forest Service.