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NWTF Provides Funds to ANHC for Habitat Restoration and Protection

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Thursday, August 29, 2019

The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) - Arkansas chapter has been a strong supporter of the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) in recent years, providing grant funds for habitat restoration efforts and partnering on Disabled Veterans hunts.

Most recently, the NWTF awarded the ANHC $5,000 for woodland stand improvements at Warren Prairie Natural Area (WPNA), located in Bradley and Drew counties. These improvements will benefit wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus), federally endangered red cockaded-woodpecker (Dryobates borealis, RCW), and other open pine woodland bird species of concern. Grant funds will be used to create additional high-quality habitat and connect to previously restored high-quality habitat, as well as increase the scale of managed land. This will provide a larger landscape for woodland bird species of concern and additional high-quality acres that support public hunting.

In 2018, the NWTF awarded the ANHC a $10,000 grant for habitat restoration work at WPNA, as well as other grants awarded annually from 2011-2018 for projects at the natural area. State and federal funding have also been used to restore a significant portion of WPNA. In addition, timber harvest has been used to reduce overstory trees to desired structure and composition. However, restoration efforts are still needed at WPNA to meet all ecological objectives.

WPNA consists of a mosaic of salt slicks, saline barrens, post oak flatwoods, mound woodlands, pine flatwoods and woodlands, and bottomland hardwood forest communities. It is home to more than 30 rare plant and animal species, including the federally threatened geocarpon (Geocarpon minimum) and a significant population of RCWs. A recognized Globally Important Bird Area, WPNA is visited by birders from all over the country.

Earlier this year, the NWTF awarded the ANHC a $100,000 grant toward the purchase of Huttig Pine Flatwoods Natural Area (HPFNA), the ANHC’s 75th natural area in the statewide System of Natural Areas. Located in far southern Arkansas, the 1,376-acre area provides direct protection to the largest population of RCWs in the Upper West Gulf Coastal Plain of Arkansas.

HPFNA is comprised of open pine hardwood flatwoods, a natural community that once covered approximately 1 million acres along the lower two terraces of the Saline and Ouachita rivers and is now identified as the most endangered forested ecosystem in Arkansas. Open pine flatwoods were historically dominated by widely spaced, mature pines with some scattered hardwoods and a diverse prairie-like ground cover. According to the Arkansas Wildlife Action Plan, published by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), this habitat type supports 14 species of greatest conservation need.

In 2018, the NWTF provided the ANHC with a $3,000 grant for woodland stand improvements at Nacatoch Ravines Natural Area (NRNA), which will benefit northern bobwhite, wild turkey, and other open pine woodland bird species of concern.

NRNA, located in Hempstead County in the Coastal Plain, protects a continuum of plant communities that occur along the transition from the upland blackland prairies to the low bottomlands along the Little River. It contains one of the largest, most intact, examples of mesic (moderately moist), dry-mesic, and dry upland forests remaining in the northern part of the Coastal Plain. Through much of the site, canopy trees average 2 to 3 feet or more in diameter, with many larger individual trees.

In November 2017 and 2018, the NWTF partnered with the ANHC, AGFC, and Freedom Defender Outdoors to host a Disabled Veterans Hunt at Warren Prairie. The hunts were implemented as a special thank you to veterans for their service. During the two-day hunting events, participating veterans enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with nature and the fellowship the events have fostered.


Also in 2017, the NWTF chose the ANHC, The Nature Conservancy Arkansas Field Office, and the AGFC for their annual Outstanding Partnership awards. This year, the NWTF chose the same group of partners for the Outstanding Partnership award.

As evidenced by their financial support of the ANHC’s projects and partnership in veterans hunts, it is clear that the NWTF has made a strong commitment to the people and wildlife of Arkansas.

Photos:

Top -- Huttig Pine-Flatwoods Natural Area in Union County. The NWTF, Arkansas chapter awarded the ANHC a $100,000 grant toward the purchase of the natural area, which provides direct protection to the largest population of the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker in the Upper West Gulf Coastal Plain of Arkansas. 

Second from top -- Salt slicks at Warren Prairie Natural Area in Bradley and Drew counties. The NWTF, Arkansas chapter awarded the ANHC a grant this year for $5,000 for woodland stand improvements at the natural area and $10,000 in 2018 for habitat restoration at the natural area. 

Middle -- Yellow Creek Road at Nacatoch Ravines Natural Area in Hempstead County, photo by Dustin Lynch. The NWTF, Arkansas chapter awarded the ANHC a grant in 2018 for woodland stand improvements at the natural area, which will benefit northern bobwhite, wild turkey, and other open pine woodland bird species of concern. 

Bottom right -- Participants and organizers of the 2018 Disabled Veterans Hunt at Warren Prairie Natural Area. In November 2017 and 2018, the NWTF, Arkansas chapter partnered with the ANHC, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and Freedom Defender Outdoors to host a Disabled Veterans Hunt at the natural area. 

Bottom left -- From left to right, District Biologist, Arkansas, NWTF, Jeremy Everitts; ANHC Director, Bill Holimon; and President, Arkansas NWTF State Board, Terry Thompson. Bill accepted the Outstanding Partnership Award from the NWTF, Arkansas chapter, this past Saturday at their Annual Awards Banquet. Photo courtesy of the NWTF, Arkansas chapter.

 

 

 



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