exploring the Rob and Melani Walton Preserve.
Kids exploring the Rob and Melani Walton Preserve. © Aaron Copeland

Places We Protect

Rob and Melani Walton Nature Preserve

Arkansas

The Rob and Melani Walton Nature Preserve lies within the Beaver Lake Watershed—an important source of drinking water for the people of northwest Arkansas.

Plan Your Visit

The preserve is open for hiking, biking, fishing, and exploring. A network of old roads serves as a trail system. We are currently working with partners to add some trails for visitors to enjoy. Tables at the entrance provide visitors with an idyllic setting to rest and picnic, and large blackberry patches nearby are full of fruit available for picking from mid-July to early August. The preserve is open to the public from sunrise to sunset. Some trails are steep and rocky.

What Makes it Special

At 410 acres, the Rob and Melani Walton Nature Preserve is part of a large area of undeveloped, protected woodlands along the north side of Beaver Lake—a lake vital to the landscape and people of northwest Arkansas. As the primary source of drinking water for half a million people, hydropower and countless recreation opportunities, keeping Beaver Lake clean is important for conservation and the economy. Maintaining an intact buffer of woodlands around the lake helps to ensure the water flowing into the lake will remain clean for the many communities it serves.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

As far back as the 1920s, botanists from the University of Arkansas noted this area for being special. With its combination of woodlands, limestone glades, and seeps it provides a unique habitat for dozens of rare plants and animals. In 1974 it was listed as a priority for conservation in the Arkansas Natural Area Plan, which helps guide efforts to preserve our state’s native landscapes, plants, and animals. The dozens of known rare plants in the area make conserving this property that much more important.

Thanks to a generous gift from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Walmart’s Acres for America program, The Nature Conservancy was able to establish this new preserve and help protect clean water. Through partnerships with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the property will complement the Beaver Lake Wildlife Management Area and the Devil’s Eyebrow Natural Area, bringing the total number of contiguous conserved acres in the area to 2,500.