STRATEGIC LAND PROTECTION PLAN
After months of research, data analysis, and collaboration, we are excited to roll out our new Strategic Land Protection Plan. Many hours were spent establishing these highest priority areas that, if kept natural, will do the very most for preserving clean water, protecting wildlife habitat corridors, and creating a more climate-resilient future for our developing NWA region.
This Plan is designed to provide the land trust with a strategic, science-driven, landscape-scale focus for our work that complements the work and priorities of our partners while providing the region’s first wildlife corridor and climate-forward conservation plan.
It will take a community to make this happen. Below are the answers to some anticipated questions. We hope to hear from you with any other questions you may have, and we hope that you will get involved with us and support this work. We look forward to keeping you posted on our progress and celebrating each land protection“win” along the way. Our community, our partners and conservation-minded landowners make this possible.
Will the land trust still work in areas not identified in the plan?
Yes. We always look for opportunities to protect land in all parts of our 13-county service region. This Plan provides a strategic, science-driven framework from which to focus our landscape-scale conservation efforts, maximizing the use of limited resources for the greatest future benefit to our region, but does not limit our services to those areas alone.
These priorities are all in “outlying” areas. What about urban areas?
The “urban core” of NWA runs north to south along I-49 through all of Benton and into northern Washington county, including much of Benton county to the east toward Beaver Lake and to the west toward Siloam Springs as well. Land is largely fragmented by development in this part of our region and land prices are high, limiting the “conservation bang for the buck”. We continue to encourage municipal leaders, planners and influencers, however, to implement the NWA Open Space Plan and prioritize green infrastructure in city and county planning decisions as essential to smart growth. Setting aside floodplains, streams, parkland, trails, cultural sites and viewsheds in the urban core is critical to our future. We also encourage best practices for protecting clean water, combating invasive species, and protecting wildlife habitat in high urban growth areas. Where the land trust can play a role in supporting our municipal and urban planning partners in these efforts, we continue to remain a resource for land protection.
How does this plan intersect with the NWA Open Space plan?
The land trust has been and will continue to be an active partner in developing and implementing the 2-county NWA Open Space Plan (covers Benton and Washington counties). The land trust’s strategic land protection plan was designed to cover a broader geographical area and to prioritize wildlife corridors, expanded water quality sites, and climate resiliency as key metrics. Both tools provide valuable, strategic guidance that should be implemented for the future growth of our region.
Is the land trust buying land in these priority areas?
As a nonprofit organization, financial resources are limited. The purchase of land is reserved for highly important natural lands that are vulnerable to development and is dependent on the availability of funds. We must fund raise for every dollar we spend to meet our mission. For that reason, we are heavily reliant upon conservation-minded landowners to voluntarily place conservation easements on their land or to donate land, as well as donors and partners to help achieve a protected landscape vision. Making a financial contribution to our land acquisition fund is a great way to support the land trust in this ongoing effort so that we are in a position to purchase land where necessary.
Have more questions?
Send our Land Protection Team an email or give us a call at 479-966-4666.