Category Archives: News

15 Things to Know Before You Hike

Mount Kessler Trail, Fayetteville

Fall has officially arrived, and it brings some of the best weather for hiking in our beautiful corner of the state! Immerse yourself in the vivid golds, reds and oranges that paint our Ozark landscape every year. Before you head out the door, keep these 15 tips in mind to ensure a safe, enjoyable trip on the trails.

  1. Don’t hike alone –  have a partner in case of emergency. If you must hike alone, be sure to share your plans with a friend or loved one who knows where you are, and when you expect to return.
  2. Know how to get to your destination. Take a map and compass with you. Know where to find water, and have that marked on your map.
  3. Always look at the weather forecast ahead of time, and wear layers you can remove.
  4. If you plan on taking your dog, check if dogs are allowed on the trail, and follow leash laws.
  5. Know your capabilities. Take it easy on your first hike. Altitude, climbing and heat can make hiking more difficult than anticipated.
  6. Safety is of the upmost importance. Stay on the trail and don’t take switchbacks.
  7. Consider hiking poles to take the stress off your knees and thighs.
  8. Take a backpack with necessary items, but keep it light as possible. Water and food should be the heaviest things you pack. Sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray and a basic first aid kit are good to carry along as well.
  9. Save your energy – stop once every hour for 10 minutes even if you don’t think you need a rest.
  10. Never hike on an empty stomach. Be sure to eat before, during and after your hike.
  11. Choose snacks that are filled with carbohydrates and salt. Carbs give you energy while salts help keep your electrolytes in check.
  12. Always carry your trash with you, never leave litter on the trail.
  13. Drink before you are thirsty. For every hour of hiking, plan to drink half a quart to a quart of water.
  14. Assume it will take twice as long going uphill as down.
  15. Plan to end your hike before sundown. If you do end up hiking in the dark, bring a flashlight with extra batteries for a headlamp.

Looking for a place to get outside and hike? Don’t miss the more than 8 miles of trails at Kessler Mountain Regional Park, located off of Cato Springs Rd in South Fayetteville.

Special Thanks to our BioBlitz Partners!

As the final details of our first Wilson Springs BioBlitz are coming together, we want to give special thanks to our partners and sponsors who make this event possible! Volunteers from the University of Arkansas, Arkansas Master Naturalists, Comprehensive Botanical Services, Illinois River Watershed Partnership, and Arkansas Native Plant Society will be helping to lead hikes and species identification throughout the day. The land trust greatly appreciates their support!

NWALT Welcomes Susan Koehler to the Team!

Welcome Susan to the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust!

We’re excited to announce our newest team member Susan Koehler, as Farmland Preservation Coordinator! Susan will be working toward establishing a new and comprehensive 5-year farmland preservation program for Northwest Arkansas.

An avid equestrian, Susan has previously served on the board of Horses for Healing, the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust and is currently on the board of the NWA Hunter Jumper Association. Most recently, Susan has been consulting for nonprofits in a few capacities including managing the Benton County Fair. Susan and her husband Bob live on a small horse farm west of Centerton, AR. They enjoy entertaining there and offer work to ride opportunities for youth and young adults.

You can read more about Susan’s journey to the land trust on our Staff Page. We’re excited to welcome Susan to the NWALT team!

 

 

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 Washington 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.

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!

 

 

 

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.