New Biomonitoring Volunteer Opportunity

Join our newest citizen science biomonitoring program!

If you enjoy discovering things in nature while exploring the outdoors, then you will love our newest biomonitoring program. We’re using iNaturalist to document biodiversity on five of our protected properties. iNaturalist is a worldwide citizen science project in which volunteers use their camera or smartphone to record observations of living organisms and submit them to an online database where experts work together to make an accurate identification.

NWALT has created a Project in iNaturalist that tracks observations that are made at the following properties:

Wilson Springs Preserve

Kessler Mountain Reserve

Kessler Mountain Outdoor Classroom

Steele-Stevens Heritage Park

Flint Creek Preserve

Citizen science is a great way to experience the outdoors in a new way while providing valuable information to local conservation efforts. By becoming an iNaturalist Observer with us, you will help us gain a better understanding of the biodiversity of the properties that we protect.

Becoming an iNaturalist Observer is easy! Just go to www.inaturalist.org and create an account (or, download the iNaturalist app on your smartphone and sign up there). After you create your account, join our project. Next time you’re on a hike on Kessler Mountain or at a program at Wilson Springs, you can start submitting observations directly from your phone!

We are hosting a short training workshop on Thursday, April 5 at 6:30 p.m. We encourage all interested volunteers to join us to learn about the program and how to make the most of the iNaturalist platform. Contact us if you’d like to attend.

Botany Talk with Theo Witsell – Saturday, March 24 2-4pm

Theo Witsell Presents Rare Plants and Special Places of Northwest Arkansas

 

Join us on Saturday, March 24 at 2pm for the next program in our Kessler Speaker Series with a presentation by Theo Witsell, State Botanist/Ecologist with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. Witsell’s presentation, titled “Rare Plants and Special Places of Northwest Arkansas,” will cover the sensitive habitats and rare plants that are found in the region. The program will conclude with a short plant hike on the education trail to practice plant identification. This program will take place in the Kessler Mountain Outdoor Classroom and Nature Center at our headquarters in the Ozark Mountain Smokehouse (1725 Smokehouse Trail Fayetteville, AR 72701).

In 2014, Theo Witsell completed a rapid ecological assessment of the Kessler Mountain Reserve and discovered many rare plants, including the Missouri ground cherry (Physalis missouriensis). He also characterized sensitive habitats on the mountain, where unique plant communities thrive.

Theo Witsell is the senior botanist and ecologist for the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and a Research Associate at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. He has also worked as a contract botanist for a number of federal agencies and private organizations including the USDA Forest Service, the National Park Service, the United States Department of Defense, The Nature Conservancy, NatureServe, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (University of Texas at Austin), and the Gates Rogers Foundation. He is co-editor of the recently published Atlas of the Vascular Plants of Arkansas, and is co-author of an upcoming book on Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of Arkansas. Theo is currently working on a number of research projects including an inventory of the plants of remnant grasslands across Arkansas and the description of several undescribed plant species. He has authored or co-authored more than 30 scientific publications and book chapters and serves as a regional reviewer for the Flora of North America Project. Theo is a native Arkansan and holds a Masters degree in botany from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. His research interests include the ecology and conservation of rare plants and their habitats, restoration of degraded ecosystems, and anything to do with the shale barrens of the Ouachita Mountains. He has expertise in the flora of North America east of the Rocky Mountains and is also an avid native plant gardener.

The Kessler Speaker Series features presentations by local experts in various environmental fields, and is offered to all members of the Northwest Arkansas Community. Registration is limited. Click here to register.

50 Acres on Washington Mountain Permanently Protected

Leflar Easement Preserves Land in Greater Kessler Mountain Conservation Priority Area

An additional 50 acres in Fayetteville has been forever protected thanks to Rob and Charles Leflar, who together donated a conservation easement with the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust. The property, which is adjacent to Finger Park in South Fayetteville, is made up of mixed hardwood forest on Washington Mountain. The steep slopes, sandstone bluffs and forest create valuable wildlife habitat and protect water quality in the Beaver Lake and Illinois River watersheds by providing the natural service of slowing the flow of surface water and allowing it to filter into the ground. It also protects the scenic viewshed behind urban development along MLK Boulevard.

The Leflar Easement falls within our Greater Kessler Mountain Priority Conservation Area, which is made up of Washington, Kessler, Stevenson and Miller mountains. The property, which is ranked in the Northwest Arkansas Open Space Plan, is part of NWALT’s vision to protect core habitat on these mountains. Core habitats serve an important role for native plants and animals, which depend on large tracts of land to meet their seasonal needs. The need for places like this will only increase as the climate continues to change. The Leflar property, with its north-facing aspect and sandstone bluffs, will provide important refuge for plants and animals as their environment changes. The preservation of this and other landscapes in our region is a key tool for creating a climate resilient landscape.

By protecting this largely undeveloped area in South Fayetteville, we can save a place for wildlife and plant diversity in our community in the face of rapid growth in the surrounding area. In turn, we will benefit from healthy, functioning ecosystems that continue to provide clean air and water, fertile soil, and quality of life for the region. We thank Rob and Charles Leflar for their lifelong support for local land conservation and for forever protecting their land with us.

If you would like to learn more about conserving your land with the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, contact info@nwalandtrust.org.

200 Acres Preserved in the Illinois River Watershed

200 Acres of Farmland in Illinois River Watershed Permanently Protected through a Conservation Easement

We’re proud to announce that 200 acres of farm and forest in the Illinois River Watershed have been forever protected by the Davis Family, who recently donated a conservation easement on their property. The Smith Family Farm, named for Melinda Davis’ family who has lived on the property for over 80 years, is located along the Illinois River near Siloam Springs, which is under intense development pressure as the urban core of Northwest Arkansas continues to expand outward. By placing their land into a conservation easement with the land trust, the Davis family is forever preserving their legacy and the land they love.

The Smith Family Farm, which is highly-ranked in the NWA Open Space Plan, is a definite win for conservation in the region. The property also falls within our Illinois Headwaters Corridor Priority Area. This priority area, which connects the largely undeveloped Greater Kessler Mountain Priority Area to the U.S. Forest Service’s Wedington Wildlife Management Area, allows for necessary movement of wildlife between the two core natural areas. Through the preservation of properties like the Davis Family Farm, we are protecting water quality in the Illinois River, encouraging healthy wildlife habitat, and preserving the family farms and rural heritage of the region. Thanks to the Davis family, their land will continue to provide these benefits to the region for many generations to come –  a true benefit to the community.

If you would like to learn more about conserving your land with the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, contact info@nwalandtrust.org.

NWALT Joins the 118th Christmas Bird Count

Volunteers Survey Birds as Part of Nationwide Citizen Science Program

Birdwatchers look for birds at the Historic Johnson Pear Farm during the Christmas Bird Count

On Sunday December 17, several volunteers joined land trust staff to participate in the Christmas Bird Count (CBC), America’s longest-standing citizen-science program. The CBC, which first began in 1900, is organized by the Audubon Society and takes place across the country. The Christmas Bird Count has a rich history of bird conservation and research. As part of its biomonitoring program, the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust led a team of birders to survey NWALT-conserved properties within the Fayetteville Count Circle.

The NWALT team surveyed five properties and covered a wide variety of habitats. Two riparian restoration projects along the West Fork of the White River yielded waterfowl, belted kingfishers and great blue herons. At the Historic Johnson Farm, the team observed golden-crowned kinglets flitting from branch to branch in the old pear orchards and enjoyed hot cider and cookies, provided by landowner Anne Prichard and Ryan and Amanda Bancroft, who run Ripples and assist with stewardship of the property.

In the afternoon, the team hiked along the ridge-line on Kessler Mountain Reserve, where they saw woodpeckers, and warblers, despite wet and foggy conditions. Finally, just before dusk, the volunteers visited Wilson Springs Preserve, where they counted hundreds of American robins as they came to roost for the night. There was a final flurry of activity from multiple sparrow species, providing a satisfying finale to a full day of birdwatching.

In all, the team counted 45 bird species across the five properties. The results of the count were compiled with the other teams at renowned ornithologist Doug James’ house, who led the first Fayetteville Christmas Bird Count in 1961. A total of 92 bird species were documented for the day!  These results will be added to the extensive Christmas Bird Count database, which has been used to document shifting habitat ranges due to changing climate conditions. It will also be used to inform management of NWALT’s properties.

Thanks to our dedicated birdwatching volunteers! If you are a birder and would like to become a biomonitoring volunteer, contact us to learn more and sign up.

Volunteer Program Planning Meeting – Sunday, January 14 2-4pm

Join us as we prepare for a big year of volunteering!

Are you looking to volunteer in 2018? Join us at this short meeting to learn about how you can help preserve and protect Northwest Arkansas’ natural landscapes. We will be launching multiple projects in 2018 to create new soft-surface trails, restore habitat, ramp up our biomonitoring program, and more. The meeting will take place at our headquarters at the Ozark Mountain Smokehouse (1725 Smokehouse Trail Fayetteville, AR 72701) on Sunday, January 14 from 2-4pm. We will give an overview of NWALT’s volunteer programs and set goals for the new year. After the meeting, we’ll lead a short hike on the Kessler Mountain Outdoor Classroom Education Trail.

We couldn’t accomplish our work without the help of our volunteers. Thanks to everyone that gives their time to support local land conservation!

 

Kessler Geology Walk – Saturday, January 27 1-4pm

Learn the fascinating geologic history of Kessler Mountain from Geologist Walt Manger!

Join us on Saturday, January 27 from 1-4pm for our annual Geology Walk! Emeritus Professor of Geosciences Walt Manger and local bird expert Joe Neal will lead an easy and informative hike through Rock City Trail on Kessler Mountain in Fayetteville. Dr. Manger will teach about the geologic history of Kessler Mountain, and Joe Neal will point out information about local birds and plants. Comfortable shoes or boots are recommended. The program is free and open to the public, but space is limited and registration is required. Contact sbarrow@nwalandtrust.org to sign up.

NWALT Seeks Intern for Kessler Classroom

Help us expand the reach of the Kessler Mountain Outdoor Classroom through our 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 additional 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.

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.

Support for this internship is provided by the Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association and the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust.

Save Land this #GivingTuesday!

Support Local Land Conservation this #GivingTuesday!

Held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday is a social media-driven celebration of giving that has raised millions of dollars for nonprofits around the world.

As Northwest Arkansas continues to grow, it is increasingly important to act quickly and proactively to protect the natural landscapes that matter most to people and wildlife in the region. As your local land trust, we are dedicated to preserving the unique beauty and natural heritage of Northwest Arkansas forever. But we need your support to help us save land for wildlife, clean water, outdoor recreation and quality of life right here in our community. We hope you’ll join us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for this year’s #GivingTuesday and make your donation count for local land conservation.

Last year’s Giving Tuesday was a huge success, and we want this year to be even better! This year, we want to increase our membership by 30 individuals. As a member of the land trust, and you will be making a sound investment in local land conservation. Plus, you’ll also receive special invitations to exclusive events and programs!

How can you help? Make a donation, invite your friends, share our #GivingTuesday posts, and tell us what you #SaveLandFor by using the hashtag to let us know why local land conservation is important to you!

Christmas Bird Count – December 17 7 a.m.-5 p.m.

Help Us Survey Birds on NWALT-conserved Properties at the Christmas Bird Count!

The Christmas Bird Count is the longest-standing citizen science program in the nation, with almost 100 years of data on bird populations across the country. The Fayetteville Christmas Bird Count is taking place on December 17 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The land trust is leading a team of birders to survey the NWALT-conserved properties that lie within the project circle. Our team will visit a variety of habitats, including restored riparian habitat, wet prairie, and the unique shale barrens habitat on Kessler Mountain. We expect to see waterfowl, sparrows, hawks, warblers, and others. Volunteers may join us for all or a portion of the day. There will be an after count tally and party at the home of Doug James and Elizabeth Adams.

The NWALT team will meet at our headquarters at the Ozark Mountain Smokehouse (1725 Smokehouse Trail, Fayetteville AR 72701) and will carpool to the first property. We will return to the Smokehouse for lunch. Please bring a sack lunch, binoculars, field guide, close-toed shoes and cold-weather attire.

If you would like to join our team, please contact sbarrow@nwalandtrust.org.