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Arkansas

Baker Prairie


Baker Prairie is all that is left of a once 5,000-acre tallgrass prairie in northwest Arkansas. Visitors can see native grasses and beautiful wildflowers in the spring, summer and fall. 

Location

Within the city of Harrison in Boone County 

Size

71 acres, co-owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy and the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. 

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

Baker Prairie is representative of the prairie that once existed on the Springfield Plateau of the Ozark Mountains. It is the largest known tract of Ozark prairie that occurs on a chert substrate. The prairie harbors several species of plants and animals of special concern in Arkansas. Baker Prairie’s timely protection was especially important due to its location within the growing city of Harrison.  

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

Ongoing stewardship includes fence row removal, woody vegetation removal, regular prescribed burning, and control of non-native plant species, especially tall fescue. A 10-acre old field at the site is being restored using prairie seeds collected from the preserve. Volunteers from Harrison have been instrumental in the stewardship of Baker Prairie for many years.

Walk Among the Wildflowers

In addition to characteristic prairie grasses like big bluestem, little bluestem and Indian grass, keep an eye out for these colorful wildflowers:

Spring:  Indian paintbrush, wild hyacinth, shooting star and orange puccoon.
Summer:  pale purple coneflower, rattlesnake master and prairie blazing star.
Autumn:  asters, sunflowers and goldenrods. 

Plants of special concern found at Baker Prairie include

  • royal catchfly
  • Ozark wake robin
  • prairie violet
  • downy gentian
  • silky aster 

Download a species list

Look and Listen for Animals

The prairie mole cricket is one of the largest insects in North America. Adapted for digging, its front legs resemble those of a mole. In early spring, male prairie mole crickets emerge from the soil and dig specialized tunnels at the surface with a chamber near the tunnel entrance. Every night for an hour after sunset, the male produces a mating call that is amplified by the tunnel system—one cricket can be heard over a quarter of a mile away! 

The grasshopper sparrow takes its name from the insect-like quality of its song. It requires open, grassy areas for successful nesting. 

The ornate box turtle, which can live for 100 years or more, is named for the intricate pattern of radiating yellow lines on its shell. This species survives only in unplowed grasslands. It is threatened by widespread habitat destruction and expanding highways, where the warmth of the pavement attracts them into the path of traffic.

Download a species list

The preserve features flat to gently sloping terrain in open sunlight. A short interpretive trail meanders through the prairie. Sturdy walking shoes, sunscreen/sun hat and insect repellent are recommended. 

Click here for a downloadable audio tour of Baker Prairie created by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission.

Directions

From the intersection of Highway 65 and Business 65 (North Main) in Harrison, go west on Industrial Park Road. Go one mile and turn left on Goblin Drive, which bisects the preserve. Parking is available on the left side of the road in the Harrison High School lower parking lot.

Discussion

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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