Arkansas's Newest Natural Area
October, 19 2011
In August, our commission approved an acquisition proposal for the Foushee Cave conservation site in Independence County. We are proud to announce the purchase of this 1,677-acre property has been finalized making it Arkansas’s 70th natural area! Foushee Cave Natural Area protects one of the most biologically significant caves in Arkansas.
The conservation vision for this natural area is to protect and maintain Foushee Cave, its direct recharge zone, and the associated forest communities that represent the White River Hills region of the Ozark Mountains. The cave supports 10 rare species, including the federally endangered gray bat and Indiana bat, as well as the Foushee Cave snail which only occurs in this cave system. Funding for the property was provided by the commission’s share of the Department of Arkansas Heritage’s 2011 Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council grant, State General Improvement Fund, and proceeds from natural gas leases.
The opening to the cave, located on the site, is gated to protect the sensitive karst habitat and the species that depend on it for survival. The gate was specifically designed with angled steel bars to allow bats, which use sonar to navigate, to easily fly in and out of the cave but at the same time prevent access to humans. All of ANHC’s caves are currently closed to public access in an attempt to prevent the spread of white nose syndrome (WNS). This fungus is spreading throughout bat populations in North America and has already killed more than one million hibernating bats. WNS is not currently known from any locations in Arkansas. See the map below with confirmed WNS locations, and learn more about white nose syndrome here
Foushee Cave Natural Area will soon be open to the public for limited, low-impact activities such as hiking, birding, and photography. Boundaries will be marked, and a designated parking area will be available for easy visitor access. Maps, driving directions, and more details will be available on our website soon.