Located along the western edge of Bayou DeView, Benson Creek is a popular fishing and canoeing destination where one can float peacefully among giant, 800-year-old cypress trees. Several showy species of swamp wildflowers are present during the fall.
1,362 acres owned jointly by The Nature Conservancy and the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission.
This wetland tract consists of previously cleared terraces that drop into extensive bottomlands and swamps. Higher elevations are dominated by white oak (Quercus alba), cherrybark oak (Q. pagoda), and Nuttall's oak (Q. texana). Mid-elevations are dominated by willow oak (Q. phellos) and overcup oak (Q. lyrata). The swamp community is dominated by water tupelo (Nyssa aquatica) with scattered old-growth bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) more than 800 years old.
Fall wildflowers include cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), mist flower (Eupatorium coelestinum) and wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia).
Many species of animals occur at the site, including white-tailed deer, beaver, great blue herons, egrets, chorus frogs, and slider turtles.
The preserve adjoins and buffers more than 4,000 acres owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service along Bayou DeView.
Approximately 230 acres of terraces previously cleared for farming were reforested with native oak species in 1995. Tree survivorship is being monitored annually. Non-native species are being removed from the parking area.
Nearby, at Benson Slash Creek the Conservancy completed a project in 2008 to reconnect the creek, which had been ditched more than 60 years ago, to its floodplain. The finished stream stretches some two miles and includes restored meanders, riffles and pools. Scientists are monitoring water quality downstream to measure the project’s effectiveness at reducing sediment entering Bayou DeView. The surrounding land is being reforested with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The Conservancy is using the project as a living demonstration for others to replicate.
The preserve is best experienced by boat. As in most swamps, several species of snakes are present, so visitors are asked to use caution when at the site.