Four decades ago, Logoly State Park opened as the first of its kind in the Arkansas State Park system: one dedicated to environmental education. In 2017 that visionary mission continues and expands. Logoly’s new visitor center has officially received its Gold LEED Certification.
LEED is an acronym that stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED is recognized worldwide as a symbol of excellence in green building and is administered by the United States Green Building Council. There are four levels of achievement in the LEED rating system: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Criteria to earn each rating includes, sustainable site development, water efficiency, use of regional materials and on-site renewable energy generation.
Arkansas State Parks Chief Planner Jeff King said environmental responsibility was an element in the design process from the start. “Taylor-Kempkes, Architects (Hot Springs, Ark.) and their team did a wonderful job of taking our program needs and designing a building and site with green features at the forefront,” said King. “Right when you walk up to the entrance you notice the big rain barrels that store water from the roof gutters, and the building uses that water to flush toilets and irrigate the landscaping. We also have a photovoltaic solar array on the back roof that’s used to supply power to the building and is tied back into the power-grid.”The visitor center held its grand opening a year ago. Construction of the building was funded by a Natural and Cultural Resources Council grant and the 1/8 cent Conservation Tax passed in 1996.
“Logoly is all about connecting people with the outdoors,” said Arkansas State Parks Director Grady Spann. “Receiving the Gold LEED Certification represents what we’re trying to communicate with people about our approach to managing the park’s natural resource in all of our efforts.”
Inside the visitor center, exhibits describe the mature beech forest of the park. Visitors can hone their observation skills at the diorama, learn the importance of stewardship at the terrarium, develop critical thinking skills at the aquarium, see how everything is interconnected at the nature viewing area and much more.
“Our message here is that ‘the roots of Logoly State Park reach through the soil and the past’ – we inspire guests to explore personal connections to the area’s rich natural and cultural heritage,” said Chief Interpreter Kelly Farrell. “In doing that, we aim for this place to have special meaning in everyday life today in 2017, and that includes an understanding of how sustainable living is vital to our future.”
In addition to the exhibits, helpful and knowledgeable interpreters also hold ecological themed workshops both in the new multi-purpose rooms inside the building and at a new amphitheater.
“I’ve been here since the park opened in 1977,” said Logoly State Park Superintendent Jim Gann. “We get thousands of kids coming here every year and I can tell you I’ve seen the impact that environmental education has on a young mind. I’m so grateful to be part of a department that continuously seeks new methods to spread our environmental education message. This Gold LEED Certification is a great example of that.”
This area has been a popular destination for over 100 years due to the purported medicinal waters which well up from the forest floor in eleven natural springs. By the turn of the century, two hotels were built and evangelists were holding week-long camp meetings.
The families who owned the property, the Longinos, Goodes, and Lyles eventually leased the property to Boy Scouts of America from 1940 to 1967. The name Logoly was created by combining the first two letters of each family name (pronounced Low-go-lie).
In 1974, the Nature Conservancy purchased the land and had it designated a Natural Area in order to preserve its unique environmental qualities. Later that year, the site was acquired by Arkansas State Parks and became Logoly State Park.
Logoly State Park has a pavilion, picnic sites, a playground and hiking trails. Also, the new visitor center has a catering kitchen and two meeting rooms – one equipped with audio/visual equipment – that are available to rent.
Logoly State Park is located six miles north of Magnolia on Logoly Road (County Road 47) just off U.S. Highway 79 near the McNeil highway junction.