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Land Conserved by NWA Land Trust has ANHC Connection

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Wednesday, January 30, 2019

For various reasons, not all land that the ANHC is contacted about conserving becomes part of the System of Natural Areas. In some of those cases, we feel that the land should be conserved, but circumstances are such that a specific property fits better with another conservation organization’s mission or acquisition procedures and regulations. In those cases, the ANHC is in a position to help facilitate the property being conserved by putting the landowner in touch with one of our partners.

Most recently, this was the case with property owned by Arkansas Master Naturalists (AMN) Dwan and Gerald Garrison, residents of Marion County. The Garrisons are both active Master Naturalists; Dwan is the founding president of the North Central Arkansas Master Naturalists (NCAMN) and Gerald became a member in 2010. The AMN was founded to “develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.” Both Garrisons have assisted with numerous volunteer events across northern Arkansas.

After attending an AMN program at Bull Shoals Lake State Park presented by former ANHC Education and Information Coordinator, Jane Jones-Schulz, the Garrisons contacted the ANHC about their desire to put a portion of their property into a permanent conservation easement. ANHC staff visited with the Garrisons, conducting site visits and plant inventories. Although the ANHC recognized that the land was of conservation interest, the Garrisons’ family members were worried about the public access that comes with the terms of the System of Natural Areas.

The ANHC works with many other conservation organizations and we were able to put the Garrisons in touch with Terri Lane at the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust (NWALT). NWALT is the region’s only local and accredited land trust, dedicated to enhancing quality of life through the permanent protection of land. Founded in 2003 by a group of community leaders, the service area of the land trust includes 13 counties in Northwest Arkansas. The NWALT was able to tailor the terms of a conservation easement to meet the needs of the Garrison family, permanently preserving the property they call Thunder Ridge Ranch East.

The Garrison’s Thunder Ridge Ranch East lies along the shores of Bull Shoals Lake and comprises 900 acres in Marion County. It is the largest tract of land ever placed into protection with NWALT. The property, a mix of mostly forest with bluffs, springs, streams, and glades, will protect native flora and fauna, preserve the scenic landscape, and protect the water quality of Bull Shoals Lake.

With their generous gift to future generations, Dwan and Gerald hope to inspire other landowners to consider leaving a legacy of conservation. You can read more about the Garrison family’s history with the property and learn more about the NWALT on their website.


Top left -- View looking out from Thunder Ridge Ranch East, photo courtesy of the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust. 

Bottom left -- Thunder Ridge Ranch East, photo courtesy of the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust.


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