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  • Writer's pictureRobert Hopper

NWALT 2022 | Year In Review

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

Our team gathered a few stories from this year that highlight how NWALT, fueled by our supporters and partners, continued our mission to preserve and enhance the quality of life for everyone in Northwest Arkansas through the permanent protection of land.

Some of Our Favorite Moments from 2022

NWALT announced our first conservation project in Johnson County where we partnered with landowner Susan Gateley to protect approximately 200 acres on the Little Mulberry Creek through a conservation easement.

“I chose to protect Little Mulberry Farm in a conservation easement so that future generations could enjoy the benefits of community and rural life, all while protecting our woods, streams, and farmlands,” said Gately.

After almost 10 years leading NWALT, Terri Lane shared her next chapter in conservation would be leading the Arkansas Wildlife Federation. We are so thankful to Terri for giving her all in building the Land Trust over the last decade and are so excited to work with Terri in her new role.

Terri and our board of directors worked together to identify our next leader. In May, Grady Spann joined NWALT as our Executive Director and CEO after serving 29 with Arkansas State Parks with the last six years as director.

Along with Grady, we welcomed 3 new full-time staff to our team: Evan Johnson as our Community Engagement Coordinator, Ryder Snell as Creative and Marketing Manager, and Robert Hopper as Director of Engagement and Giving.

We also celebrated the promotions of Renee Sniegocki to Land Stewardship Manager and Mikayla Alderson to Administration and Human Resources Manager.

We celebrated the dedication of the Betty Hinshaw Bird Sanctuary in June. This is the first land donation to NWALT that is specifically for bird conservation. The Land Trust will return the pastureland to native grasses to create a habitat for threatened grassland bird species and plans to open the sanctuary to the public later in 2023.

Daniel and Chloe Evans began their work of building a diversified vegetable farm on approximately five-acres off Broyles Rd and 54th Street. NWALT manages this tract for the City of Fayetteville as part of our Farmland Preservation, Access, and Support programming to help grow more local farmers, and more local food. The Evans look to have their first crop this coming spring

NWALT is honored to be part of the Wasson family land legacy through their generous donation of an additional 67 acres to the Flint Creek Headwaters Preserve in Springtown. Protecting this beautiful part of Northwest Arkansas enhances wildlife habitat, protects water quality in the Illinois River watershed, and preserves a way of life where people can easily get outside to connect with nature and each other.

Our goal of creating the Boston Mountain Wildlife Corridor continued with the announcement of a grant from the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund to support the initiative to permanently protect 300 acres of Ozark forest in southern Washington County, AR, west of the Bobby Hopper tunnel on Interstate 49 known as Blackburn Bluffs Preserve.

In August, NWALT partnered with Northsong Wildbird Rehabilitation to release a red-shouldered hawk back into the wild at Wilson Springs Preserve in Fayetteville. Over 80 friends watched the hawk return to the wild and learned more about how land conservation and avian conservation work together to support native wildlife.

Wilson Springs Preserve Ecology Hike

We partnered with the local chapter of the Society of Wetland Scientist to host the Northwest Arkansas Ecology Tour at Wilson Springs Preserve in Fayetteville. 120 friends joined hikes led by local experts in botany, herpetology, and aquatic ecology. Our own Marson Nance, director of land stewardship and research, led the ornithology hike.

EPA Cites Collaborative Effort to Restore West Fork White River in Arkansas

The power of partnerships continued to have an incredible impact on Northwest Arkansas' water quality. An enduring collaboration between Beaver Watershed Alliance, Beaver Water District, Watershed Conservation Resource Center, Arkansas Water Resources Center, and NWALT led to 16 miles of stream being delisted from the state impaired waters list!

NWALT held the first Acre by Acre event at the Ozark Mountain Smokehouse in October to honor Arkansas Conservation Legend Frank Sharp. Over 160 friends joined us for a perfect fall night on Kessler Mountain to honor Frank’s lifelong commitment to building community and protecting our region’s natural beauty and to begin an awareness campaign of the significance of our work to protect our home's water, land, and wildlife.

Our work in the Illinois River Watershed and Benton County took a huge leap forward as we closed on the purchase of our largest property yet - Lake Frances Preserve. “This is NWALT’s first partnership with the development and construction of hiking, running, and mountain bike single track trails to encourage public engagement with the preserve to better understand the significance of protecting these special habitats,” said Grady Spann, CEO of NWALT, “we are excited about this partnership and how we provide recreational opportunities to all visitors to the Lake Frances Preserve.”

NWALT celebrated a transformational $200,000 gift from an anonymous local conservationist. We continue to be overwhelmed with gratitude for the gift and the reasoning behind it.

"I help support the preservation of the natural world because it is such a great idea,” said the anonymous donor. “When we protect the natural environment, we are protecting a larger web that we are all a part of. We retain access to peace of mind, rejuvenation, and gratitude. We can also have experiences of awe, beauty, adventure, and discovery."

Looking Back and Ahead

We remain so thankful for your vital support and your help in sharing the message that preserving NWA’s land, water, and wildlife is critical to protecting and enhancing the quality of life for everyone who calls this special place home.

Our team at the Ozark Mountain Smokehouse is hard at work preparing for 2023 with new land projects and a refreshed membership program with events every month. We'll share more on what's next for NWALT in the new year. Until then, we wish you and your family all the joys of the holiday season.

From everyone here at the Land Trust -- Thank you for a wonderful year!

1 Comment

Ted Heisel
Ted Heisel
Dec 12, 2022

Congratulations on what looks like a very productive year for land conservation in NW Arkansas. Thank you for your work.

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