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Thunder Ridge Ranch East

County: Marion

Size: 900 Acres

Date Conserved: 2018

A family homestead first established in 1958 along the shores of Bull Shoals Lake has been permanently preserved thanks to Yellville residents Gerald and Dwan Garrison.

The 900-acre property, known as Thunder Ridge Ranch East, is a mix of mostly forest with bluffs, springs, streams and glades. The Garrisons placed their property into a permanent conservation easement with the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust to forever protect water quality of Bull Shoals Lake, native flora and fauna, and preservation of the scenic landscape.

“Dwan and I feel that this is a one-time, non-repeatable opportunity to significantly benefit nature, the Ozarks, Arkansas, the United States and all of society and for us to create an everlasting legacy to my parents,” explained Gerald Garrison, son of Eskelle and Eddie Garrison, who first purchased the property in 1958.

An adventurous float trip along the White River first brought Gerald and his family to the Ozarks in 1957, and they immediately fell in love with the abundant natural beauty of the region. Eskelle and his wife Eddie soon purchased land along Bull Shoals, and what started as their getaway from Greenville, MS in a 35’ travel trailer eventually expanded to a full cattle ranch.

The elder Garrisons were deeply connected to the land. They worked closely with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, the US Forest Service, the local volunteer fire department and the Arkansas Farm Bureau to run their ranch, to protect and preserve the wildlife (including helping reintroduce wild turkey to the area) and fight wild fires. In 1975, Thunder Ridge Ranch, named for the numerous powerful thunderstorms that roll through the area, was divided into four main parcels which were eventually passed down to each of the Garrison children. Gerald and his wife Dwan began building their home on their property in 2003 and took permanent residence in 2005.

On their decision to place their property into a permanent conservation easement with the land trust, Gerald stated “Dwan and I have established deep roots in this property and do not want to live with the thought that its beauty and natural state being eventually broken up.” The vision [we] have for this land is that it will have remained an island of safety, security and perpetuation for the wildlife, native flowers and fauna of the area and a joy to all who appreciate nature and its beauty and that my parents will be remembered for making it possible.”   

It’s the largest tract of land ever placed into protection with the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, the region’s only local and accredited land trust. Executive Director Terri Lane commented on the donation of the easement, “Any time we can preserve such a large tract of pristine Ozark habitat, it is a true gift to the people and wildlife of Arkansas for many generations to come. We are excited to forever protect this amazing property and appreciate the Garrison family for establishing such an important conservation legacy.”

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