Category Archives: News

NWALT Seeks Intern for Kessler Classroom

Help us expand the reach of the Kessler Mountain Outdoor Classroom through our new internship program!

The land trust is seeking an energetic and knowledgeable education intern to help us expand the Kessler Outdoor Classroom program. The intern will lead field trips for local schools and community groups, develop new exhibits, and perform regular upkeep of the facilities. The position will require 10-15 hours per week, and is offered for the Spring, Summer and Fall field trip seasons. The intern may be invited to remain for multiple semesters. Applicants should have a strong interest in environmental education and an interest in working with kids. Relevant coursework in biology, environmental science or related field is preferred.

Thanks to generous support from the Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association, we are able to offer a stipend of $650 per semester.

This internship is an excellent opportunity to gain valuable experience in environmental education in a nonprofit setting. Internship credits may be available for college students. Read the Classroom Internship Advertisement for information about how to apply. Contact sbarrow@nwalandtrust.org or call 479-966-4666 to ask questions.

Public Access Planning Underway for Wilson Springs Preserve

Wilson Springs Preserve to Provide Outdoor Enrichment Through Sustainable Access Planning

We have begun the planning process for providing public access to our Wilson Springs Preserve, a 121-acre wet-prairie remnant located behind Sam’s Club in Fayetteville.

Guy Hedland, Landscape Architect for the National Park Service RTCA Program and advisory board member for the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust speaks to Landscape Architecture students at Wilson Springs Preserve.

Wilson Springs will be an excellent “ambassador site” for the land trust to provide site interpretation, conservation education and recreational access for all members of the community. In collaboration with the University of Arkansas’ Department of Landscape Architecture, Department of Biological Engineering, the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, & Conservation Assistance (RTCA) Program and others, we are studying the issues and opportunities presented by such a concept and ultimately hope to develop a public access plan that will be considerate of neighbors, safe for users, and sustainable within the unique habitats that are found on the property.

We thank our collaborators for providing their expertise as we embark on this exciting process!

Students from the University of Arkansas’ Department of Landscape Architecture shared their artistic interpretations of the site through temporary on-site installations as part of the public access planning process.

We are hosting a stakeholder input session on Monday, February 13 from 6:30-8:00pm at Holcomb Elementary (2900 N Salem Drive Fayetteville, AR 72704). Please join us to hear more about the site and the project and share your thoughts with us so that we may consider them moving forward.

For more information, please contact us at 479-966-4666. For more information on the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program, please visit www.nps.gov/rtca

Pam Nelson Joins NWALT Staff

Northwest Arkansas Land Trust Welcomes New Program Assistant

We’re excited to welcome Pam Nelson as our newest staff member! Pam started working with the land trust as a weekly volunteer, and was recently hired as staff to offer assistance with some of our LandWise program efforts.

Pam has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from University of North Texas and a Master’s in Applied Geography with a focus on Environmental Studies from Texas University. For her master’s research, she completed a greenhouse gas emissions inventory for Texas State University and analyzed strategies to reduce emissions at the University. Pam has been an invaluable resource for us as a volunteer and is already demonstrating passion and work ethic in this new position.

 

Learn more about Pam and the rest of our staff by visiting our Staff Page.

Historic Johnson Farm Property Protected Forever

Conservation Easement Forever Protects Historic Family Property at the Base of Kessler Mountain

The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust is proud to announce the permanent protection the “Historic Johnson Farm”, a 168-acre property at the base of Kessler Mountain near Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The landowner, Ms. Anne Prichard, sought to ensure that the property which has been in her family for three generations would remain intact for generations to come.  Through a permanent conservation easement with the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, her wishes have been met and this historic land is protected forever.

There are many reasons why the protection of this landmark property is an important conservation success for our region.  It is highly ranked in the Open Space Plan for Benton and Washington Counties due to its cultural, historic, wildlife, scenic and water quality values.  The property was acquired by the Johnson family in the early 1900’s.  The striking white barn is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the subject of a painting by acclaimed watercolor artist, George Dombek.  The barn and Ms. Prichard have been featured on local PBS station AETN’s “Back Road Barns” program.  The historic and cultural significance of the property is further advanced by the presence of the family’s original home, rebuilt by Ms. Prichard’s father in the 1920’s, and the old pear and apple orchards which are reminders of Northwest Arkansas’ once thriving fruit production.

The property is also important for wildlife.  With three undeveloped, forested tracts, including Round Top Mountain, a prominent landmark in the scenic viewshed of Fayetteville, the property provides important habitat for native plants and animals.  It is also a link between other conserved lands, including the city of Fayetteville’s 384-acre Kessler Mountain Reserve, which is also forever protected by a conservation easement held by the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust. Connectivity of protected land helps prevent habitat fragmentation and provides the space and safe passage between habitat areas that wildlife need to survive.

Water quality preservation is another important benefit of the protection of this property.  Partially located in both the Illinois River and White River Watersheds, a spring-fed pond on the property serves as the headwaters of Cato Springs Branch, a tributary of the West Fork of the White River which feeds into Beaver Lake.  Land trust partner, Beaver Water District, contributed stewardship funding in support of the project, helping to enable the conservation of this land for the protection of water quality in Beaver Lake, the drinking-water source for more than 450,000 residents in Northwest Arkansas.

The protection of a “Greater Kessler Mountain Corridor” is a top priority for the land trust and this historic property is the newest contribution towards that vision to protect a connected landscape from Washington, Kessler, Miller and Stevenson Mountains.  This “green corridor” will protect wildlife, scenic values, and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation to our community.  Connectivity of green space is also an important component of our effort to increase “climate resiliency” in the region, enabling local ecosystems to persist in the face of climatic change.

We thank Ms. Anne Prichard and her son Mr. Timothy Dallett for their commitment to conservation and for the important legacy they are leaving our community.   And we thank the Walton Family Foundation for their generous support of our LandWise Initiative, through which we continue working to increase the pace of conservation of special places like this one in our growing region. We look forward to working with other landowners that seek to protect their land in the Greater Kessler Mountain Corridor and throughout Northwest Arkansas.

If you are a landowner that would like to discuss your options for conserving your land, please contact us by phone: 479-966-4666 or email: info@nwalandtrust.org.

New Flint Creek Headwaters Preserve Donated to the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust

Flint Creek Headwaters Preserve Protects Water Quality, Public Enjoyment and Threatened Species

Thanks to a generous donation from conservation-minded landowner, Mr. John Wasson, seven acres of pristine habitat along Flint Creek in Springtown, Arkansas have been protected forever as our newest Preserve. The property and surrounding parcels have belonged in Mr. Wasson’s family for generations. He recalls learning to swim in the cool deep pools and jumping from limestone outcroppings that border the stream.

Land trust staff and board tour property with Mr. John Wasson (center).

Mr. Wasson donated the property to the land trust to ensure that it was forever protected and made available to residents of and visitors to Springtown for many more generations to come.

In accordance to Mr. Wasson’s wishes, the land trust will be developing a plan in 2017 to allow public access for “quiet pedestrian and educational” use, while ensuring the protection and proper stewardship of wildlife habitat on the property. Additional acreage may be added to the Preserve in the future.

The property includes a wooded riparian buffer along spring-fed Flint Creek, which is a tributary of the Illinois River. Riparian corridors protect water quality by slowing runoff and preventing excessive streambank erosion. They also provide habitat to a wide variety of plants and animals, and serve as important migration corridors for wildlife to move between habitat areas.

Flint Creek Headwaters Preserve includes seven acres of wooded riparian habitat in Springtown, AR.

A cave on the Preserve has been documented by The Nature Conservancy with small population of Ozark cave fish, a species that is listed as federally threatened. The land trust will be working with TNC and other local and state experts to further document, monitor and protect this and other species of unique plants and animals on the Preserve.

Due its conservation value, this property ranked highly in the Open Space Plan for Benton and Washington Counties. “Open space” refers to undeveloped natural lands such as forests, streams, prairies, parks, farms, and heritage sites. The Plan identifies those areas that are most important for conservation in our growing region. The land trust continues to partner with the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission and other regional partners to identify and protect this and other special places, before it is too late.

In addition to donating the property, Mr. Wasson provided funding towards the ongoing stewardship of the Preserve, an essential component of our perpetual land protection mission. A matching contribution was made by the Walton Family Foundation due to their support of the Open Space Plan and of our efforts to protect significant lands in Northwest Arkansas.

Protecting Birds – By Jenny Holt

How to Help Protect Bird Species in Arkansas

Freelance writer Jenny Holt has provided these thoughtful tips for how to promote bird conservation in Northwest Arkansas. The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust works to protect birds and their habitats in the region, and we appreciate Jenny for sharing this information with us!

Arkansas boasts of 550,000 acres of hardwood forest making the area the perfect home for several species of birds. It boasts of over 300 sightings of bird species including Sabine’s Gull and Parasitic Jaeger. In addition, it is the perfect pit-stop for migratory birds on their way to nest or escape harsh winters to places or countries with milder climates.

Declining Species

The red-cockaded woodpecker is an endangered species that can be found in old-growth pine forests in southeastern Arkansas

The state is not only an important home and stopover for migratory birds, it also boasts of ongoing conservation efforts. At present, there are several species of wildlife that are endangered including birds. Affected bird species that are on the decline are the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker and Interior Least Tern.

Causes of Dwindling Bird Populations

There are many causes of birth deaths including lost or degraded habitats due to agriculture and land development as well as natural causes. Another source of bird morbidity is collisions with man-made structures such as buildings, poles or windows. Sadly, there are nearly a billion bird deaths in the US associated with glass collisions endangering migratory species and reducing local populations.

What You Can Do to Help

Everyone can pitch in to help birds sustain their numbers. If you are a homeowner, you can create habitat by planting native trees, bushes and flowers. Erect bird baths and birdhouses as well as bird and nectar feeders. To reduce glass collisions, make sure your windows are visible to birds by putting a screen, installing UV decals, hanging curtains and drawing shutters.  Bird tapes are also effective in making windows visible as well as drawing on the glass with tempera markers.

At nighttime, draw curtains or turn off the lights. You can also volunteer at bird conservation groups such as Audubon Arkansas or Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society to help monitor species or assist in caring for injured birds.

Volunteers support bluebird populations at Wilson Springs Preserve in Fayetteville

Education of your kids and family members begins at home. You can never stress enough the importance of the value of wildlife and birds. They help balance the ecosystems, pollinate plants, scatter seeds and nourish our spirits.

Another place where you can offer your free time is through land trusts that are mandated to preserve and protect lands, forests, mountains as well as wildlife habitat. The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust offers several opportunities to get involved with bird conservation. You can also advocate for land conservation and wildlife protection as well as contribute to nature programs.

At the office, switch off lights and close blinds. Studies show that birds are attracted by lights which result to deadly collisions and crashes. In short, there are many ways to get involved as a citizen for bird protection.

 

 

Jenny Holt  is a freelance writer and mother of two. She loves nothing more than getting away from it all and taking her pet Labrador Bruce for long walks, and taking some time to enjoy nature, as well as writing about saving it, something she can do a lot more now she’s left the corporate world behind.

Land Trust Staff Survey Groundwater Resources on Kessler Mountain

Groundwater Survey to Evaluate Water Quality Impact of Kessler Mountain Reserve

With support from the Beaver Watershed Alliance, land trust staff have initiated a groundwater resource survey on the Beaver Lake Watershed portion of the 386-acre Kessler Mountain Reserve, Fayetteville’s newest public natural recreation area. As part of the survey, we are taking an inventory of the springs and seeps on the mountain to better understand the groundwater resources on the reserve, an important component of watershed protection for this region’s drinking water source.

Forested lands like Kessler Mountain are important areas for recharging groundwater, a vital component of a healthy watershed. As precipitation falls on the land, some of that water percolates underground, into the water table below.  Through this process, the flow of runoff is slowed and sediment is filtered, helping to clean the water. When land is cleared or developed with impervious surfaces such as rooftops and parking lots, however, water is unable to filter into the soil and surface runoff is increased, leading to erosion and pollution of our waterways.

The Ozark zigzag salamander, Plethodon angusticlavius, is a species of special concern that has been documented in groundwater sources on Kessler Mountain

The springs and seeps that land trust staff have found are important indicators of groundwater quality.  In addition, they provide important habitat for flora and fauna on the Reserve, like the Ozark zigzag salamander, pictured right.  Our survey will include water quality testing at each site, as well as an inventory of the plants and animals that are found there. The results of the study will increase our understanding of the role of groundwater on the Reserve and can be used to inform land management practices by the city of Fayetteville and its partners.

Surveys like this are an important aspect of our land stewardship program. Through our LandWise Initiative, we are working with landowners in key conservation priority areas, including the Greater Kessler Mountain landscape, to save land in this important mountain corridor habitat.   In turn, and with the support of partners like the Beaver Watershed Alliance, we help to preserve water quality for the benefit of the community for generations to come.

If you are a landowner that wants to learn more about how protecting your land can enhance water quality in the region, send us a message or give us a call: 479.966.4666.

 

 

NWALT Joins #GivingTuesday

One-Day Event to Raise Donations for Land Conservation in NWA

2016-gt-logo-wdate1The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust is excited to join the #GivingTuesday movement, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. Occurring this year on November 29, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick-off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

We have joined #GivingTuesday in order to encourage our supporters and the community to rally around land protection at a time when natural landscapes in the region are at risk of disappearing forever. We are dedicated to saving land in our growing region by working with landowners and community partners to find win-win solutions for conservation, protecting wildlife habitat, clean water, clean air, and places for people to enjoy the outdoors.  And as an accredited land trust, you can be sure the lands entrusted to us will be protected forever.  But we can’t do our work without the financial support of our community.

When you support your local land trust, your money will stay right here in Northwest Arkansas, preserving the special places that matter most to you and the people of our region. We encourage you to pledge your support to local land conservation this year on November 29th by giving online at www.nwalandtrust.org/donate.

For more details about the national #GivingTuesday movement, visit the #GivingTuesday website (www.givingtuesday.org), Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/GivingTuesday) or follow @GivingTues and the #GivingTuesday hashtag on social media.

“Secret Garden” by NWALT Elder Joe Neal

Retired US Forest Service Biologist and NWALT Elder Joe Neal often shares great insight about the value of our natural landscapes in Northwest Arkansas.  Below are his reflections on a “secret garden” that he discovered while birdwatching at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area.  The land trust strives to honor wildlife in the region through the conservation of land so that places like this secret garden are protected forever.

Springs pop up all over Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area. All it takes is for a couple of these trickles to join down hollow and you have a sparkling flow over a low waterfall — way back somewhere visited by no one but Downy Woodpeckers, land snails, and the odd Autumn Coralroot orchid. They all live in the secret forest. A hike today brought us near such a place, with some secrets revealed when Joan Reynolds initially spotted a Golden-crowned Kinglet splashing around diamond-like beads of water. So much splash you would have thought it a very big bird. But with binoculars, there was a kinglet in a tiny pool where water flows through bright green moss.

Once we saw the kinglet, we picked up the other one, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, then Brown Creepers (2), a Pine Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, plus Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmouse—with Northern Cardinal and White-breasted Nuthatch near, so maybe waiting a turn. I don’t remember ever seeing creepers anywhere but winding up trunks or flying between them. These were creepers at bath, in an Ozark spring.

A person might think this secret forest enough, but soon there was more. Just ahead, Joan spotted three big land snails, close together, on a rotting branch on the ground. I see plenty of the bleached-out empty snail shells at Hobbs, but less frequently, the living creatures. Never before three together. So you probably have already figured out where this is going, right? Even though land snails like this are considered hermaphrodites (all have both male and female parts), they still must mate so the eggs each one carries become fertilized.

joeneal_snails

While we were watching the snails, Joan mentioned research from a decade ago linking the fate of land snails to Wood Thrushes. These birds nest widely at Hobbs. For the whole story, go here: http://www.pnas.org/content/99/17/11235.full .

joeneal_woodthrush

Basically, areas in the eastern US heavily impacted by acid rain also saw major reductions in Wood Thrush nesting success. One of the potential links involves calcium derived from foraging on land snails and other insects rich in calcium – all negatively impacted by acidification.

No, Wood Thrushes don’t consume big land snails, but that exchange going on between three snails today could result in as many as 100 baby snails from each. A Wood Thrush, or other birds, and other organisms like salamanders, could handle the little ones.

They are all linked. That’s called ecology. As Aldo Leopold observed, “The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: ‘What good is it?’ If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not …”

We hope that Joe’s words have inspired a greater appreciation for those secluded places that provide a sanctuary for wildlife in Northwest Arkansas. Thanks, Joe, for sharing these great thoughts!

 

Photos by Joe Neal

Feature Photo by Joan Reynolds

NWALT Engages Landowners for Conservation of Key Priority Areas

LandWise Initiative reaches over 300 landowners in areas of high conservation value throughout Benton and Washington Counties

Kessler Landowner GatheringWith the population growth rate in Northwest Arkansas at an all-time high, the land trust is working to ensure that quality of life remains high through the permanent protection of natural landscapes in the region. Through our strategic land conservation planning and our LandWise Initiative, we are engaging landowners in key conservation areas – places like the West Fork of the White River; Washington, Kessler, Miller, and Stevenson Mountains; the Illinois River Headwaters; and the Beaver Lake “Source Water” Priority Area. Each of these landscapes offers important conservation values, such as water quality, wildlife habitat, and cultural heritage.

The high conservation value of these areas have been further documented by the recent completion of the Northwest Arkansas Open Space Plan. Led by the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission and ALTA Planning, the Open Space Plan used extensive public input to identify and map the natural landscapes that are most important to the people of our region. Permanent, voluntary land protection is a critical tool for protecting and connecting those landscapes, and qualified land-holding organizations, such as the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, are key partners.

The land trust has been engaging with landowners in these areas by hosting dinner meetings for landowners within our current four priority areas. These meetings provide an excellent opportunity to meet and discuss with families that care deeply for their land.  Some families have lived on their property since before the Civil War and want to keep it in its natural state. Other landowners are concerned about erosion affecting their properties and want to implement stream side restoration. Still others want to ensure that their property can be used for agriculture or recreation for future generations.  Permanent land protection is important in all of these instances.

We are already seeing an impact from our LandWise outreach.  More and more landowners are  beginning the process of forever preserving their land. Great things are happening in Northwest Arkansas, and we are excited to be a part of it! Thanks to the Walton Family Foundation, lead supporter of our LandWise Initiative, and to our many regional partners.

If you would like more information about how you can conserve your land, please contact us.