Liatris blooming at Presson-Oglesby Preserve
Liatris Liatris blooming at Presson-Oglesby Preserve © Annie Lindsey/The Nature Conservancy

Places We Protect

Arkansas

Presson-Oglesby Preserve

Take a glimpse at the native Cherokee prairies that originally covered tens of thousands of acres in western Arkansas.

Visitors to Presson-Oglesby Preserve can step back in time to experience the native Cherokee prairies that originally covered tens of thousands of acres within the Arkansas River Valley of west central Arkansas. Common prairie grasses, stunning wildflowers and grassland birds are highlights. 

Location

Franklin County, near Charleston

Size

155 acres 

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

Presson-Oglesby Preserve is a high-quality tallgrass prairie. The tract is representative of the once extensive Cherokee prairies that originally covered tens of thousands of acres within the Arkansas River Valley of west central Arkansas. 

The preserve connects two other protected native prairies, Cherokee Prairie and H.E. Flanagan Prairie natural areas, owned by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission

Presson-Oglesby Preserve is named for the late Hazel Presson, an educator and author from Fort Smith whose series of generous donations enabled the Conservancy to acquire the site for permanent protection.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

The site is managed for the tallgrass prairie habitat and animals that live there. Management activities include regular prescribed burns and removal of non-native species like Japanese honeysuckle.

TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD(FLOWER) SIDE

More than 220 species of plants have been recorded at the preserve. In addition to common prairie grasses like cord grass, big bluestem, Indian grass, and side oats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula), the site has many types of wildflowers with spectacular blooms throughout the growing season. Showy species include

  • swamp mallow
  • scurf pea
  • prairie blazing star
  • narrow-leaved sunflower
  • large coneflower
  • pale purple coneflower 
LOOK AND LISTEN FOR ANIMALS

The site shelters grassland birds that have declined over much of their range, like Henslow's sparrow and LeConte's sparrow. Butterflies are abundant on the prairie.

Presson-Oglesby Preserve is open to the public. There are no trails, but visitors are welcome to walk out onto the prairie (foot traffic only). The terrain is mostly flat and easily navigated. Viewing is also possible by vehicle from the county road. Sturdy walking shoes, insect repellant, sunscreen and sun hat are recommended.  

Take a Walk on the Wild(flower) Side

More than 220 species of plants have been recorded at the preserve. In addition to common prairie grasses like cord grass, big bluestem, Indian grass, and side oats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula), the site has many types of wildflowers with spectacular blooms throughout the growing season. Showy species include

  • swamp mallow
  • scurf pea
  • prairie blazing star
  • narrow-leaved sunflower
  • large coneflower
  • pale purple coneflower 

Download a species list

Look and Listen for Animals

The site shelters grassland birds that have declined over much of their range, like Henslow's sparrow and LeConte's sparrow. Butterflies are abundant on the prairie.

Presson-Oglesby Preserve is open to the public. There are no trails, but visitors are welcome to walk out onto the prairie (foot traffic only). The terrain is mostly flat and easily navigated. Viewing is also possible by vehicle from the county road. Sturdy walking shoes, insect repellant, sunscreen and sun hat are recommended.