Thanks to the generosity and support of many Nature Conservancy members and partners, four new places around Arkansas will remain wild and conserved for people to use for generations to come.
The Conservancy purchased 973 stunningly beautiful acres on the Archey Fork of the Little Red River in Van Buren County. Lush woodlands and tall bluffs hug the clear, winding river for 3.5 miles on the new preserve. Conserving the river corridor helps protect a wide variety of aquatic animals, including two that are federally listed as endangered—the speckled pocketbook mussel and yellowcheek darter fish—and 11 others considered rare. It also helps ensure that the Little Red will remain a world-class fishing destination, and that the river will continue to deliver clean drinking water into Greers Ferry Lake for the 250,000 Arkansans who depend on it.
Lorance Creek now has 95 more acres for the public to enjoy. The Conservancy bought the parcel upstream from the Lorance Creek Natural Area, which we jointly own with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. This beautiful cypress-tupelo swamp is home to more than 300 plant species including swamp blackgum, a rare tree in Arkansas. Some 100 bird species and 25 amphibian and reptile species are found here, including the rare bird-voiced tree frog. Just minutes from downtown Little Rock, and with a fully accessible boardwalk and interpretive signs, Lorance Creek Natural Area is a quick, easy getaway with plenty to see and hear at any time of year. Visit nature.org/arkansas for directions.
The Conservancy is now safeguarding ten miles of the Kings River. The newest addition to the Kings River Preserve south of Eureka Springs is 608 acres lining two miles of the river. It extends protection for 18 aquatic species found only in the Ozarks, boasts some of the best fishing on the river, and includes a key canoeing take out. Not only is the Kings River a haven for wildlife and popular recreation spot for people, it flows into Table Rock Lake and contributes to the drinking water of dozens of communities downstream, so it’s especially important that we keep it clean and healthy.
The Conservancy bought 180 acres on the Mulberry River in Johnson County. The scenic property borders the Ozark National Forest and includes a half mile of river frontage. It also contains a low water crossing affectionately known as the “super slab.” The large concrete barrier is a blockage in the river and needs to be removed. We are working with the U.S. Forest Service on the best way to remove the slab to allow the river to return to its natural flow. Plans call for transferring the property into the national forest once the restoration is complete.
Most recently, the Conservancy transferred 145 acres to the Arkansas Forestry Commission’s Poison Springs State Forest. At 21,500 acres, in combination with adjacent land owned by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, this is now the largest sandhill woodland, grassland, and seep habitat in conservation ownership in Arkansas. More than 20 colorful, rare plant species are at home in these beautiful, open pine-oak woodlands.