3-Year, 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!




Kessler Mountain Invasive Plant Removal – April 24, 10:00 a.m.

Help us improve habitat on Kessler Mountain!

Invasive bush honeysuckle has taken over in some areas of the mountain, especially at the base of the bluffs along the newly-developed Terrapin Station trail. Clearing the bush honeysuckle will give native plants a chance to reestablish while also enhancing the scenic views along the trail. This workday is a great opportunity to help steward Fayetteville’s largest public natural area! Tools and training will be provided. Please wear long pants and sturdy shoes. Volunteers are encouraged to bring a sack lunch. Contact Sim Barrow to register.

When: Tuesday, April 24 10:00 am -1:00 pm

Where: Meet at the Kessler Mountain Regional Park, 2600 W. Judge Cummings Road, Fayetteville, AR

Thanks to Fayetteville Parks and Recreation for partnering with us to steward habitat and trails on Kessler Mountain!

Now Hiring – Applications due May 4

Adding Three New Positions to our Dedicated Staff Team

As our region continues to grow, so too must the land trust. The need is greater than ever to save and steward land in Northwest Arkansas.

We are excited to announce that we are adding three new positions to our dedicated staff team. These include a Director of Land Protection & Stewardship, a Campaign Manager, and a part-time Office Administrator.

The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust seeks highly qualified applicants for these positions.  All applicants must meet or exceed the minimum qualifications outlined for each individual job announcement. They should have a passionate and authentic interest in land conservation and embrace the mission of the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust. They must be excellent team players with a strong work ethic, flexible attitude and the ability to work both independently and as part of a team.

The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust offers competitive wages, flexible work policies and a collaborative work environment. We believe in providing professional development opportunities that strengthen the organization from within. We strive to hire and retain people who are passionate about our work, who seek excellence in their personal and professional development, and who fit the collaborative culture of our workplace.

See the individual job announcements for complete details.

All applications due by 5 pm on May 4, 2018.

Town Branch Volunteer Workday – April 17, 10 a.m.

Help us keep our urban waterways clean!

Join us on Tuesday, April 17 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., for a litter removal workday at Town Branch Preserve, located along Town Branch Trail in Fayetteville. Removing trash from the property is a great way to improve habitat and benefit water quality. Supplies and snacks will be provided. Bring a sack lunch. Click here or contact Sim Barrow to register. We will meet at Cascade Drive in Spectrum Apartments. Please park in visitor spaces only!

Town Branch Preserve protects a stretch of urban creek that provides a scenic backdrop for the paved multi-use trail while offering habitat for wildlife in an urban setting. As part of the Beaver Lake Watershed, it also protects water quality for the drinking water source for our region.

Thanks to Fayetteville Parks & Rec and Beaver Watershed Alliance for partnering on this workday!

Farmland Connections Workshop – April 24, 6:30 p.m.

Join us for a discussion about farmland conservation in Northwest Arkansas

Farmland is one of our most valuable resources, but many farmers face significant hurdles when it comes to finding available farmland. The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, Arkansas Young Farmers Coalition and National Center for Appropriate Technology are partnering to address farmland access and tenure throughout the region. Please join us for this free event featuring short presentations about how conservation easements and other tools can be used to help promote farmland access, while hearing directly from farmers about the current state of farmland access in Northwest Arkansas. Food and refreshments will be provided. For more information and to register, visit https://farmland.eventbrite.com

This workshop is hosted by the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, Arkansas Young Farmers Coalition, and the National Center for Appropriate Technology

Thanks to Whole Foods Market for providing refreshments!

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.