The Nature Conservancy in Arkansas purchased its Kings River Preserve in Carroll County in March 2010. The Conservancy's primary purpose in acquiring the preserve, which spans some seven miles on both sides of the Kings River, was to help maintain the health of and water quality in the Kings River. The Kings River is important because:
The Kings River is an incredibly scenic place. It's lined with tall bluffs, gravel beds and forested banks. Its waters flow clear and clean. And the Kings River is known as one of the best destinations for prized game fish, notably the smallmouth bass. Belted kingfishers, egrets and herons are common sights, as are bald eagles during winter months.
There are outfitters that provide canoe and kayak rentals on the Kings River, which flows through the Kings River Preserve. There are also several public access points to the river. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission owns the access point closest to the Kings River Preserve -- Rockhouse Access, located just upstream from the preserve. The Nature Conservancy encourages visitors to explore during the day the Kings River Preserve via the river and its corridor, which has many gravel beds that are ideal for picnicking. (Visitors are asked to kindly pack out any trash.) Because the Kings River is surrounded by private property and because of its tall bluffs, there are no hiking trails along this section of the Kings. As is true with most of the private landowners along the Kings River, camping without written permission is prohibited at the preserve.
Excessive sediment that can fill in gravel beds and choke out organisms at the bottom of the food chain and affect those at the top, like smallmouth bass, is the primary threat to the Kings River and other upland rivers in Arkansas. (Learn more.) Forested river corridors -- or riparian areas -- and well constructed and maintained unpaved roads help reduce the amount of sediment that enters a stream. In-stream gravel mining also produces excessive amounts of sediment as well.
At the Kings River Preserve, the Conservancy is focused on the river and its corridor. The Conservancy will work to maintain the health of and water quality in the Kings River. Examples of restoration activities could include reforestation efforts in some areas or stream bank stabilization projects.
A float trip down the Kings River in north Arkansas is especially rewarding during the winter months since the chances of spotting bald eagles is quite good.