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Newest Natural Area Lies Just West of Little Rock

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Monday, June 25, 2018

Governor Asa Hutchinson and Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH) Director Stacy Hurst dedicated Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area (NA) earlier this spring, making it the 73rd addition to the ANHC’s System of Natural Areas. The statewide System provides long-term protection to some of the state’s most ecologically significant lands.

Rattlesnake Ridge NA will protect rare plant and animal species, and also offer visitors rugged, low-impact activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and climbing. The ANHC has placed a conservation easement on the 373-acre tract, located in Pulaski County just west of Pinnacle Mountain State Park. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) maintains fee title ownership, representing another great public/private partnership that benefits the people of Arkansas.

To date, Rattlesnake Ridge NA is known to be home to four species of conservation concern: the southeastern bat (Myotis austroriparius), the western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox), Wright’s cliffbrake (Pellaea wrightiana), and Arkansas Twistflower (Streptanthus maculatus subsp. obtusifolius). The area is also the eastern-most point of the western diamondback habitat.

Rattlesnake Ridge, for which the natural area is named, is one of the most dramatic rocky summits in the eastern Ouachita Mountains. It rises to 920 feet above mean sea level, with some bluffs that reach up to 120 feet high. This 3/4-mile wide ridge is comprised of a rare natural community, Ouachita Mountain Sandstone Outcrop Barrens, and is geologically similar to the Appalachian Mountains, but has species held over from a hotter, drier climatic period. Few examples of this natural community are known, but a large percentage of those identified have been impacted by intensive public use.

The natural area adds to a conservation corridor that includes Central Arkansas Water’s Maumelle River Management Area, Pinnacle Mountain State Park, and The Nature Conservancy’s Cedar Glen and Ranch North Woods preserves. The ridge itself is the watershed divide between the Big Maumelle and Little Maumelle rivers.



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