15 Years of Saving Land – 15 Places We Protect

2018 marks the 15th year that the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust has been working to Save Land in our growing region! To celebrate this milestone, we’ll be sharing stories of the places we protect, the history of the land trust, and the people who make it happen.

To kick things off, we’re highlighting 15 places protected by the land trust, and a quick look at what makes them special. Click the link to read more about each property.

15 Places Protected by the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust

1. Kessler Mountain Reserve – 386 acres in Washington Co

This public preserve, owned by the city of Fayetteville and forever protected by a conservation easement with the land trust, features more than 7 miles of natural surface trails for hiking, biking, birding and relaxing in the heart of Fayetteville. It also provides critical habitat for wildlife.

 2. Tavegia – 92 acres in Benton Co

This private property in the Monte Ne area of the Beaver Lake Watershed helps protects clean drinking water for our region.

3. Steele-Stevens Heritage Park – 1 acre in Benton Co

Open to the public and with park enhancement plans underway, this small, historic property protects the namesake spring of Elm Springs, as well as water quality in the Illinois River Watershed. The Elm Springs Heritage Association initiated the preservation of this important site.

4.  Historic Johnson Farm – 168 acres in Washington Co

This private farm property located at the base of Kessler Mountain was highly ranked in the NWA Open Space Plan due to its important heritage, wildlife habitat, and cultural and scenic values.

5. Lukens-Bachmann – 31 acres in Washington Co

This private property protects approximately 4,000 feet of the West Fork of the White River, an important tributary to Beaver Lake, our region’s drinking water supply.

6. Dead Horse – 26.5 acres in Washington Co

This private property protects a restored reach of the West Fork of the White River, a tributary of Beaver Lake, our region’s drinking water supply.

7. Osage Creek-Gibbs Property – 53 acres in Benton Co

This private property protects a riparian corridor along Osage Creek, an important tributary of the Illinois River near it’s confluence in Siloam Springs, AR.

8. Smith Family Farm – 200 acres in Benton Co

This private family farm includes a long stretch of the Illinois River adjacent to the U.S. Forest Service’s 15,000 acre Wedington Wildlife Management Area. Protection of this property provides connectivity of wildlife habitat, while preserving prime farmland soils and the scenic and cultural value of the area.

9.  Leflar Family Property –  50 acres in Washington Co

By protecting this privately owned, undeveloped, forested hillside in South Fayetteville, we can save a place for wildlife and plant diversity in our community while preserving this important and prominent viewshed as seen from Martin Luther King Boulevard. 

10. Wilson Springs Preserve – 121 acres in Washington Co

The land trust’s Wilson Springs Preserve is a unique wet prairie located at the headwaters of Clabber Creek in Fayetteville, Arkansas. This 121-acre preserve is the largest wetland remnant in Fayetteville and one of the last tall grass prairies in the region. With major habitat restoration phases almost complete, public access plans are underway.

11. Whooping Hollow Woods – 577 acres in Carroll Co

With spring-fed ponds, woodland streams, ridge lines and ravines, Whooping Hollow Woods provides year-round habitat and refuge to some of our most iconic Ozark wildlife, including black bear, elk, wild turkey and deer.

12. Frog Bayou Preserve – 151 acres in Crawford Co

A land trust preserve, this remote forested property along Frog Bayou provides ideal habitat for wildlife and has over a mile of protected high quality riparian area which contributes to the water quality of Lake Fort Smith.

13. Town Branch Preserve – .77 acres in Washington Co

The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust worked with developers in Fayetteville to protect a stretch of urban creek in order to help preserve our clean drinking water. This “pocket preserve”, located along the paved trail system, also offers scenic creek views and habitat for wildlife in an a dense urban setting. 

14. Flint Creek Headwaters Preserve – 7 acres in Benton Co

This land trust preserve is open to the public and includes a natural surface trail loop through a wooded riparian buffer along spring-fed Flint Creek, a tributary of the Illinois River. Riparian corridors protect water quality, provide habitat to a wide variety of plants and animals, and serve as important migration corridors for wildlife to move between habitat areas.

15. Pine Hollow Preserve – 7 acres in Marion County

This forested property on the shores of Bull Shoals Lake protects water quality, wildlife habitat, and scenic values to the recreational users of the lake.

Join us in our mission to #SaveLand in Northwest Arkansas.

Make a donation today!

Marson Nance Joins NWALT Team

Welcome Marson to the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust!

We’re excited to announce our newest team member Marson Nance, Director of Land Protection and Stewardship! Marson joins us from Orlando, Florida where he served as a lake manager for Orange County Government.

Marson’s role with the land trust will help ensure that NWALT’s portfolio of conserved properties continues to expand in accordance with our strategic land conservation goals and priorities, and that stewardship of those properties is conducted in accordance with best practices set for by the Land Trust Alliance Accreditation Standards and Practices. You’ll also find Marson out on the land at NWALT preserves, leading hikes and field outings throughout the year with our volunteers and citizen scientists.

Marson brings two decades of business, science, and political experience to the NWALT team. He is a musician and photographer, and has logged thousands of miles across North America and Europe in search of birds and unique cultural experiences. Together with his wife Cheyenne, and two children Owen and Iris, Marson enjoys travel, birding, camping, live music, and artistic pursuits. You can read more about Marson’s background on our Staff Page.

The land trust is thrilled to welcome Marson and his family to Northwest Arkansas!

NWALT Welcomes Lauren Embree and Ammen Jordan to Our Team!

The land trust staff is growing! We’re excited to welcome two new staff members to our team:

Lauren Embree serves as our Communications and Membership Manager, bringing more than a decade of nonprofit experience to the position. Lauren grew up on the shores of Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Arkansas, fostering her love for the outdoors at an early age. Upon graduating from the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts in Hot Springs, she moved to Fayetteville in 2003 to pursue a B.A. in Communication from the University of Arkansas. She has spent the last decade serving the nonprofit community in various roles, most recently as Executive Director of NWA Creative Arts Network. Lauren is very active in our creative community, having founded many endeavors including Lauren Embree Jewelry, the performing arts festival Last Night Fayetteville, the Creative Exchange Conference, and the performance venue Stage Eighteen located in downtown Fayetteville. She enjoys traveling with her husband David and daughter Lillian, and is most at home near the water, whether the lake, river or ocean.

Ammen Jordan serves as the Campaign Manager for the NWA Land Trust with leadership over several key initiatives including the plan to protect 5,000 acres in three years. Ammen was born and raised in Fayetteville, sharpened his teeth kayaking the headwaters of Ozarks, and graduated from the University of Arkansas with Bachelor of Science in Earth Science. After college,  Ammen traveled extensively as a teacher and coach for junior olympic kayak athletes. Ammen’s lifelong connection to the outdoors developed into a successful marketing consultancy for a number of brands, and resulted in a film project that won five national awards in 2005. Subsequently, Ammen turned his sights on the business world, looking for ways to promote the concept of, and boost businesses with, triple bottom line principles: profit, people, and planet. He spent a decade on this track before returning to NWA to raise his family.  Along the way he served as an investment manager, founded impact investing groups, managed investment funds, and advised institutional foundations and international non-governmental organizations. Most recently Ammen served as the Director of Development for the City of Ruston, Louisiana with leadership over several key quality of life initiatives including city-wide active transportation infrastructure, historic building preservation, urban farming, and recycling. Ammen moved back to Fayetteville to raise his family in 2017 and lives in his childhood home near Wilson Park.

For more information about NWALT staff, visit our Staff Page.

13th Annual Secchi Day on Beaver Lake – August 18

Protecting clean drinking water through the permanent protection of land is a top priority for the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, and that’s why we are proud to support Beaver Water District at this year’s 13th Annual Secchi Day on Beaver Lake. The free, family-friendly Science Education Festival celebrates ways we can monitor and safeguard our water quality. Activities guarantee fun for all ages and include kayak test rides, a fire truck, prizes, music, dancing and crafts.

Secchi Day will be held at Prairie Creek on Beaver Lake, five miles east of Rogers, AR from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 18, 2018.

To learn more, visit Beaver Water District’s event page.

NWALT Welcomes Leah Saffian to Our Team!

The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust is proud to welcome Leah Saffian as our new Office Administrator!

In addition to working at NWALT, Leah runs Counterpart Studio, a graphic design and visual arts business. Leah received her BA in Art & Performance from the University of Texas at Dallas before relocating to Fayetteville, Arkansas to become a member of the 2012 Energy Corps.  She was subsequently offered a full-time position as Deputy Director and Education Coordinator for Washington County Environmental Affairs where she worked for over 6 years. Leah also served as President on the Arkansas Environmental Education Association (AEEA) Board of Directors. Her artwork has been featured in the NWA Upstream Art contest as part of an effort to educate citizens about storm water best management practices.

For more information about NWALT staff, visit our Staff Page.

3 Years – 5,000 Acres Campaign

We’re taking a bold step to protect land in Northwest Arkansas. Join us as we embark on this new challenge, together.

Northwest Arkansas Land Trust’s 5,000 Acre Campaign – by 2021:

  • Save 5,000 acres of important natural areas
  • Raise $2.8 million dollars in community support
  • Contribute over 1,600 volunteer hours to care for the land
  • Open at least 6 new properties to the public

“The goal of the campaign is to proactively protect and steward those landscapes which provide the greatest public benefit to our region”, says Terri Lane, executive director.

How will land be protected?

First, we rely heavily on conservation-minded landowners, just as we have for the past 15 years. The vast majority of high-value conservation land is privately held.  The land trust works with willing landowners to find a conservation path that works best for them. This includes land donations, conservation easements and other arrangements.

In some cases, however, the only way to save key properties is to buy them. Through this campaign, the land trust will establish a land acquisition fund to quickly act on the purchase of vulnerable lands.

Land owned by the land trust is permanently protected as preserves. The land trust also sometimes facilitates the purchase of properties to be owned by a city and permanently protected by a conservation easement and stewardship collaboration with the land trust.

Where will protected lands be?

The majority of land will be in Benton and Washington counties, the two most rapidly urbanizing counties in Northwest Arkansas. The land trust will continue to work with landowners in all counties throughout our service region.

The land trust focuses on “landscape scale” conservation, an approach that maximizes public benefit by protecting whole landscapes. Our priority landscapes protect drinking water, wildlife habitat, local food and farms, outdoor recreation and scenic resources.

Our goals are also strategically aligned with the Northwest Arkansas Open Space Plan. The Plan identifies areas throughout Benton and Washington counties that are most important for conservation. The land trust is one of the leading partners in developing and implementing the Plan which serves as a valuable tool for smart growth in our region.

How will people be involved on the land?

Connecting people to the land is a critical part of our mission. The land trust regularly schedules volunteer efforts, citizen science opportunities, programs through the Kessler Mountain Outdoor Classroom, and other “on-the-land” events.

“Through this campaign, we are excited to develop trails and public access on several land trust preserves, and to further ramp up our outreach and volunteer efforts”, says Sim Barrow, communications and outreach manager for the land trust.

The land trust takes a holistic approach to land conservation. “We believe that good land stewardship starts with knowing what is there”, says Alan Edmondson, land stewardship specialist for the land trust. By documenting the condition of the land – including plants, animals and any sensitive habitats – we can protect, honor and highlight those features for the future. Volunteers, interns and land trust members are key to these efforts.

How can I support the campaign?

This is a bold campaign that will require the participation and support of the community – individuals, corporations, and community partners.

A generous grant through the Walton Family Foundation allowed the land trust to increase its staff capacity to pursue the campaign, but community match must be raised for operational support, and the grant does not directly fund the purchase of land. Help us raise $2.8 million!

Support the 5,000 Acre Campaign. Donate Today!




Wilson Springs Bioblitz – Saturday, September 15, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Help us collect biodiversity data at this all-out search for life at Wilson Springs Preserve!

Image courtesy of Warren Herold.

We’re hosting a Bioblitz at Wilson Springs Preserve, Fayetteville’s largest wet-prairie remnant. All are welcome to join us for this effort to document as many living things as possible during the 12-hour period. No experience is necessary! Local experts and conservation professionals will be present to lead hikes and assist with collecting and identifying organisms. Volunteers can attend for as long as they would like to help collect insects, survey for birds, herps & wildflowers, or look for fungi. Snacks and drinks will be provided. Parking for the event will be available at 2783 N. Shiloh Drive Fayetteville, AR 72704. Please wear long pants and mud boots. For more information and to register, contact us or call (479) 966-4666.

What is a Bioblitz?

A Bioblitz is a community effort to identify as many living species as possible in a given area within a specific period of time. Volunteers of all ages assist local experts with observing and identifying plants, insects, birds, fungi and other living things. The resulting biodiversity data is highly valuable for researchers and conservation organizations, and can be used to direct land management activities for the area. Bioblitzes offer a great opportunity to explore natural areas while helping local conservation groups better understand the habitats that they manage.

About Wilson Springs Preserve

The Wilson Springs Preserve is a unique wet prairie located in the Clabber Creek bottomlands, near Sam’s Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The 121-acre preserve is owned and managed by the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust. It is the largest wetland remnant in Fayetteville, AR and one of the last tall grass prairie remnants in the region. Wilson Springs provides habitat for a wide variety of rare and sensitive plant and animal species, including the Arkansas darter, one of Arkansas’ rarest fish species. Restoration efforts by the land trust have been underway since 2015.

Thanks to our Bioblitz Partners: Arkansas Agriculture Department, Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalists, Arkansas Native Plant Society, University of Arkansas Entomology Department, and the Illinois River Watershed Partnership.

Fayettechill Lawn Party – Friday, July 20, 6-9 p.m.

Join the party in support of your local land trust!

Fayettechill Clothing Company, our neighbors at the Old Ozark Smokehouse, are hosting their second annual Summer Lawn Party to benefit the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust and Buffalo River Watershed Alliance.

Fayettechill is rolling out all the stops for the party: 5 local breweries, live music, plenty of classic yard games (volleyball, horseshoes, bocce ball, and cornhole), and a chance to mingle with NWALT & BRWA staff!

$15 entry at the door goes 100% to the BRWA/NWALT & gets you unlimited beer, food, and fun for the evening. Other opportunities to donate will be available as well.

Family + dog friendly, come join us and Fayettechill at the Ozark Mountain Smokehouse for a quintessential Fayetteville evening! They’re aiming to host a no-impact event, so if you can, please bring your own pint glass + plate. Check out the Facebook event page for more info!

3rd Annual Conservation Win Win Workshop – June 28, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

In the face of rapid growth and development, the Northwest Arkansas Community has a unique opportunity to direct the future of open space in the region. This workshop is designed for regional decision-makers, including city planners, civil engineers, landscape architects, elected officials, developers, conservation professionals, and business and community leaders that have an interest in preserving quality of life as Northwest Arkansas grows. Participants will learn from regional professionals with practical examples and resources for planning and designing projects that preserve our natural environment and support the long-term vitality of our region.

Topics will include: designing for sense of place, planning for water and wildlife, economic benefits of open space preservation, partnerships for landscape-scale conservation – and more.

CEU’s Available: Each speaker session approved for 1 AIA LU SD/HSW and qualifies for 1 hour USGBC/GBCI (non LEED specific) for a total of up to five credit hours.

Onsite networking reception to follow the workshop.

$35/participant; includes buffet lunch and reception, CEU’s and materials.

Space is limited! Register online today

Special thanks to Walton Family Foundation and Beaver Water District for their ongoing support of land conservation.


CEU support generously provided by education provider US Green Building Council-Arkansas and American Society of Landscape Architects.


Cover image by Carl Smith Design

iNaturalist Hike at Wilson Springs Preserve – May 31, 5:30 p.m.

Join us as we explore the wetland and contribute to a growing biodiversity database on NWALT-conserved properties.

NWALT staff will lead a walk through Wilson Springs Preserve, Fayetteville’s largest wet-prairie remnant, in order to look for plants, animals and fungi. No expertise is necessary for this family-friendly hike! Bring your smartphone (or camera) and mud boots. The program will begin with a brief tutorial about how to use iNaturalist.

iNaturalist is an online community dedicated to documenting the diversity of life in our world. Users capture photos or sounds of living organisms and submit to the worldwide database, where other users collaborate to reach an accurate identification. NWALT is using iNaturalist as a tool for collecting biodiversity data on its preserves, while also providing a new way to for people to explore and connect to nature. Contact us for more information about our iNaturalist Observers volunteer program.

Want to get started using iNaturalist? Sign up online and join our project before the hike!