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Cooperative Project Helps Rare Species

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Great news! The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) approved our cooperative project at their October monthly meeting, bringing us one step closer to achieving our conservation goals at Longview Saline Natural Area! The project was recently awarded a $1.5 million Recovery Land Acquisition Grant by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). This grant program provides funding for species and habitat conservation actions on non-federal lands.

This grant will be used to purchase an additional 1,696 acres along the Saline River, adjacent to ANHC's Longview Saline Natural Area, in Ashley County. Acquisition of this site will aid in the recovery of three federally endangered species, one candidate species, and six global and state ranked species of concern. ANHC will acquire and hold fee title to the property, and AGFC will provide oversight of grant activities and work with USFWS to administer the grant. AGFC will also assist in stewardship of the property and will enforce Wildlife Management Area (WMA) regulations.

This cooperative project will benefit three freshwater mussel species of particular interest--the federally endangered winged mapleleaf (pictured above) and pink mucket, and the rabbitsfoot, currently a candidate for federal listing. The Saline River supports populations of all three of these species, including the largest known population of winged mapleleaf in its entire range. In Arkansas, 52% of native freshwater mussel species have a designated conservation status. Factors contributing to the decline of these species include water pollution, over harvesting, introduction of exotic species, and alteration and destruction of habitat. As one of the last major undammed rivers in Arkansas, the Saline River is one of the most biodiverse and species rich river systems in the state.

This tract of land is also known to support a population of the federally endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Acquisition of this property will provide opportunities for population growth by increasing suitable open pine habitat and connectivity to another nearby group of birds.

In addition, saline soil barrens located on the property support wintering Henslow’s Sparrows, a bird species of conservation concern. The barrens also support a unique micro habitat known as “salt slicks” which may support geocarpon, a federally endangered plant species only known from four sites in Arkansas (three of which are protected by ANHC).

Opportunities for outdoor recreation such as hunting, birding, hiking, and photography will also be available. Stay tuned for more developments, and learn more about Longview Saline Natural Area here! - See more at: http://www.naturalheritage.com/news-events/whats-new/cooperative-project-helps-rare-species/default.aspx#sthash.rXduHXGZ.dpuf



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