Category Archives: 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!

Climate Resiliency In Northwest Arkansas

Protecting the Place We Call Home

Protecting land throughout Northwest Arkansas increases the climate resiliency of our region.

Climate resiliency is the ability of ecosystems to withstand the stress of changing climate conditions, such as increased temperature, extended periods of drought, and heavy precipitation events. The plants and animals found in our region are influenced by natural processes in the ecosystem – interactions between plants, animals and the environment, including pollination, seed dispersal, erosion and photosynthesis. When we experience extreme weather events, such as flooding or prolonged drought, these natural processes are disturbed. An ecosystem’s ability to bounce back from the stress caused by the disturbance determines its level of climate resiliency.

For example, heavy rainfall washes away soil and often causes trees to uproot. Or, certain animals may lose their breeding sites or food sources. Prolonged drought coupled with higher temperatures can cause plants to shrivel and die, which may lead to an inadequate food supply for wildlife. These changes stress our local habitats because plants and animals are adapted to a specific range of temperature and moisture conditions, and if habitat conditions change beyond their range, they either adapt, move to a new location, or their population decreases. If this happens, we risk losing the biodiversity that makes our region unique. Approximately 160 species found in the Ozarks occur nowhere else in the world.

Many landscape features in Northwest Arkansas display the climate resilient characteristics identified by researchers. Our limestone bedrock creates a calcium-rich soil that supports diverse plant species. Rock overhangs, bluffs, caves and north-facing slopes create habitats with lower temperatures than the surrounding area. These areas are abundant in our region and, if protected, could provide refuge for plants and animals seeking cooler temperatures.

Many of the landscape features that are important for climate resiliency throughout our region are also beloved by our families and friends. Tall bluffs create a sense of grandeur as we enjoy swimming, fishing and paddling on our rivers. Old-growth forests offer a place to sit quietly and reflect or watch the birds. Freshwater springs attract wildlife providing hunting opportunities, which in turn boosts the local economy. Saving our region’s climate resilient landscapes not only helps ensure a place for plants and animals to thrive in our region, but also preserves the majestic beauty of the place we call home.

Land Conservation and Inclusiveness – Working Together to Preserve Quality of Life

Ed Clifford, NWALT founding board member, discusses the importance of community conservation for quality of life in Northwest Arkansas.

Chances are, even if you have been in Northwest Arkansas a short time, you’ve heard the name Ed Clifford, and benefited from his community service spanning over three decades.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, and recruited to Walmart Stores Inc. in 1984 as a buyer, he sees similarities in the roles he has played and initiatives he leads today. “The key to success in any endeavor is building relationships and demonstrating trustworthiness,” says Ed. “As others develop confidence in you, you are given an even greater opportunity to serve. It all works together.”

As Ed artfully blended his 17-year Walmart career with community service for dozens of organizations including the Bentonville Rotary Club, the first rendition of Downtown Bentonville Inc. and later as CEO of the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber and now over the Jones Center – he pioneered or championed what’s become a national and important local conversation about quality of life.

While Ed appreciates preserving nature for nature’s and wildlife’s sake alone, he sees exponential value in how land conservation contributes to quality of life. “Quality of life is all the things that make a community a great place to live, start a business, raise a family or retire. We have some great anchor employers in our area and new enterprises cropping up that will need a talented workforce. We need next generation leaders committed to creating a future equal to if not better than the one we envision today as well as vibrant main street small businesses, which also contribute to exciting community centers. The NWA Land Trust is playing a key role in both our area’s economic development as well as our culture and preservation strategies.”

The NWA Land Trust has grown and benefited from Ed’s vision and collaborative approach. “It’s exciting and rewarding to see the progress we’ve made over the past 14 years for the NWALT in securing support through land donations, staff and board recruitment as well as complementary program development including the NWA Open Space Plan.”  We need to continue to educate current and future generations about the value we can create for the community as well remain open to diverse perspectives and cultures to ensure our work is relevant and inclusive, reflecting the broader NWA community. It all works together.”

For more information about becoming a Member of the NWA Land Trust, property donations, planned gifts or other contributions, stewardship and volunteering, please contact sbarrow@nwalandtrust.org.

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.

“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

Ozark Natural Foods Supports the Land Trust!

Thanks to Ozark Natural Foods for the Generous Donation!

ONF Check_editedBack in September, Ozarks Natural Foods held their Annual Midtown Music Showcase.  Proceeds this year benefited the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust.

We had a great time at the event, and are excited to receive a check for $2,000 from the funds raised at the event, generously matched by ONF.

Funding will help us continue to increase the pace of land conservation, right here in Northwest Arkansas!

We are thankful for the generous donation by ONF and proud to be a part of this community that values conservation. Thanks for your support, Ozark Natural Foods!!!

If you would also like to support the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, click here to join us!

 

NWA Open Space Plan Now Available for Review and Comment

Show your support for green space by commenting on the draft NWA Open Space Plan!

openspaceThe DRAFT Northwest Arkansas Open Space Plan is available for your review and comment HERE.  Please take a few minutes to review the Plan and the Appendix.  The comment period will end October 31, 2015, so be sure to take this opportunity to add your voice to the process.  It is important that this Plan meet the open space needs for Northwest Arkansas and your input is necessary to ensure that it does.

The draft is a fascinating and comprehensive approach to identifying areas of high conservation value in Northwest Arkansas.  The maps alone are interesting, but the Plan as a whole will make land conservation in our area easier and more efficient.

 

Thanks to the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission and ALTA for putting this together, and thank you for your participation!  Your input can make a difference on the Green Spaces in your community.

800 and Counting! Kessler Mountain BioBlitz

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More than 90 volunteers spent the weekend of September 6-7 peeking under rocks, peering through binoculars and squinting into microscopes.  Why?  To document as many plants and animals as they could during a 24-hour BioBlitz on Kessler Mountain in Fayetteville, AR.

The purpose of the BioBlitz was to inventory the biodiversity of Kessler Mountain and to inform the planning process currently underway by the city of Fayetteville for the recently acquired 287-acre reserve.  The property is open to the public for outdoor recreation and educational uses.  The BioBlitz provided community volunteers with an excellent opportunity to work alongside research professionals while connecting with nature and learning about this important ecosystem.  More than 17 reptiles and amphibians, 55 birds, 58 fungi and many plant, tree and insect species were identified during this event.

ONSC.jpgCooling temps and light rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the many volunteers who traversed the mountain on “herp” walks, bird hikes, plant walks, fungi hunts, tree hikes and insect gathering expeditions.  The Sharp family provided their family farm as the BioBlitz headquarters where volunteers could camp and were provided meals and snacks by the Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association.

Experts from the University of Arkansas, including professors, students, and graduate students from the departments of entomology and biology, along with conservation leaders from the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association, Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society and Arkansas Master Naturalists, identified over 800 species – and counting. Entomology students continue to examine and identify insect specimens collected and will release a final species count in the coming weeks. idstation.jpg

The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust hopes that the bio-monitoring of Kessler, and other areas like it, will help city planners and landowners understand the complex diversity of our natural areas and work to protect those habitats for the future.

Thank you to the many volunteers and organizations who helped with this event!

Local Family Protects “Whooping Hollow Woods”

Local Family Donates Their 570-acre “Whooping Hollow Woods” to the Land Trust

ALPINA, AR (May 12, 2012) – Paul and Diana Guraedy, along with sons David and Philip Guraedy, WHW_Mountainside in Fall 2012announced the protection of their 100 year-old homestead at a gathering of friends and family on Saturday, May 12, 2012. As part of the family’s irrevocable trust the property, locally called Whooping Hollow Woods, is to be donated to Northwest Arkansas Land Trust (NWALT) who is charged with protecting the property for generations to come.

Diana Guraedy’s grandfather, J.A. Smith, homesteaded the original 160 acre parcel on May 12, 1912. Over the next 100 years, Smith’s children, Economy Scoles, Success Vestraci, and Exel Smith, steadily added acreage to the original parcel, for a total of 650 acres. After retiring to the family property in 1975, the Guraedy family’s dream was to preserve Whooping Hollow Woods in its natural state and in 2011 they partnered with NWALT to make the dream a reality.

“This place has been the one constant throughout my life,” said Diana Guraedy. “Despite all the places across the nation that I have lived, this is the place that never changed. I’m so pleased that it will always stay the same and that our sons are as eager for its preservation as we are.”

Whooping Hollow Woods is located at the headwaters of Dishroon Creek, a part of Long Creek and a tributary of Table Rock Lake. With forested riparian buffers surrounding several creeks and springs, preservation of the property will help maintain water quality in Long Creek and Table Rock Lake. And with over 300 acres of Ozark native forest, the site is home to a wide variety of local flora and fauna.

“When I first met Paul and Diana, it was obvious how much they cared for Whooping Hollow Woods, its history, and the diversity of wildlife on their property,” said Nicole Hardiman, NWALT’s Executive Director at the time. “With Paul’s career in the National Park Service, the family spent many years living on protected lands across the United States. Their goal of preserving this beautiful piece of land and their personal sacrifice is an inspiration.”

The project involved several key individuals to make it a success. NWALT Board member and local estate planning attorney, Micki Harrington, took on the task of setting up the Guraedy’s irrevocable trust, which names NWALT as the recipient of Whooping Hollow Woods.

“When Paul and Diana approached our Board, we jumped at the chance to help them out,” said Harrington. “The mission of NWALT is to protect land for ecological, agricultural, and historic purposes, so it was a natural fit.”

Additionally, Ozarks Water Watch (OWW) financially supported the project through their OWW Project Fund. Angela Danovi, OWW’s Northwest Arkansas-based staff member, represented the organization at Saturday’s gathering. “Preservation of Whooping Hollow Woods is a significant contribution to the preservation of clean water in the Long Creek watershed. We are pleased to support the land conservation efforts of Northwest Arkansas Land Trust,” commented Danovi.

David Guraedy, one of Paul and Diana’s sons, added, “If we don’t do things like this, there will be nothing like it left. Even within my lifetime, the landscape around our property has changed, despite the fact that we don’t live close to an urban area. If this place can change, then what hope is there for more populated locations?”

If you are interested saving your land, contact Terri Lane at tlane@nwalandtrust.org or 479-966-4666.  We are happy to discuss all available options and answer any questions you may have.

 

Land Trust Announces Application for Accreditation

flyThe Northwest Arkansas Land Trust is pleased to announce it is applying for accreditation.  Upon successful completion, it will be the first accredited local land trust in the state of Arkansas.  A public comment period is now open.

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, conducts an extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs.

The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever.  

“Achieving accreditation is a major undertaking, and one that our land trust values very highly”, says Terri Lane, executive director.  “The seal of accreditation will mean that our land conservation efforts are being conducted to national standards, and that we are continually striving to improve the quality, sustainability, and effectiveness of our organization.”

The Commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust complies with national quality standards. These standards address the ethical and technical operation of a land trust. For the full list of standards see www.landtrustaccreditation.org/tips-and-tools/indicator-practices.

To learn more about the accreditation program and to submit a comment, please visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org, or email your comment to info@landtrustaccreditation.org. Comments may also be faxed or mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments: (fax) 518-587-3183; (mail) 36 Phila Street, Suite 2, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Comments on the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust’s application will be most useful by June 1, 2014.