Nature Conservancy of Arkansas

The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas is part of the international Nature Conservancy headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. The Nature Conservancy’s mission is to preserve the plants, animals, and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.

The Nature Conservancy was incorporated on October 22, 1951, in Washington DC as a nonprofit organization. The Arkansas field office, established on April 12, 1982, became the organization’s twenty-ninth state program. The Arkansas program, which opened with about 250 members and a staff of three, has grown steadily in capacity and achievement. The conservancy now has about 6,000 members in Arkansas (the worldwide membership is about one million) and a staff of more than forty full-time and seasonal employees in nine locations.

The first director was Kay Kelley Arnold, who opened the office in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Charter board members were Charles L. Steel (chairman), H. R. “Randy” Wilbourn III, D. Allan Gates, Dr. John Simpson, Louisa Barker, John A. Cooper Jr., Tommy Goldsby, Henry Hodges, Kaneaster Hodges, David Snowden Sr., Ray Thornton, and Jim Walton. Nancy DeLamar became director in 1986. During her tenure through 2003, more than 200,000 acres in Arkansas were moved into conservation status, and she was awarded the 1993 National Wetlands Conservation Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in recognition of the conservancy’s involvement in a 41,000-acre land exchange that created a protected corridor between the Cache River and White River national wildlife refuges. Scott D. Simon became director after DeLamar, who now serves in a regional leadership position with the Nature Conservancy.

Arkansas’s unique geology and topography, coupled with abundant fresh water and annual rainfall, provide habitat for a rich variety of plants and animals, many found nowhere else. The conservancy engages in projects that protect thousands of species and hundreds of habitat types in Arkansas. In the Ozark Mountains ecoregion, research and protection projects in the karst ecosystem safeguard habitat for sensitive and endangered cave-dwelling creatures while protecting water quality and scenic beauty in northwest Arkansas. In south Arkansas, projects center on conservation of the remaining blackland prairies and sustainable management of native pine and hardwood forests. In the Ouachita Mountains, restoring oak woodlands and conserving river systems are the major areas of focus. In the Arkansas Delta, the Big Woods project includes conservation of bottomland hardwood forest and wetland ecosystems for migratory birds, big-river fish, black bears, and many other species. It was in the Big Woods of Arkansas that the ivory-billed woodpecker was rediscovered in 2004, giving heightened meaning to the work of the Nature Conservancy and many in the Delta over the preceding decades.

Working with a wide variety of partners and using the best available science, the Nature Conservancy identifies and conserves the landscapes and waterscapes where the richest and rarest biodiversity occurs. Major strategies include acquiring ecologically important land from willing sellers and donors; restoring degraded lands and waters; conducting prescribed burns to maintain fire-dependent habitats; promoting conservation-minded, sustainable land use practices in areas such as forestry, farming, ranching, and road construction; and researching, recording, and monitoring biodiversity.

The Nature Conservancy has played a role in conserving the following sites in Arkansas. The list below includes places where the Nature Conservancy owns property or conservation easements, and lands the Nature Conservancy has helped acquire and transfer to public agencies.

Arkansas Bayou Meto Conservation Area
Ashley Overflow National Wildlife Refuge
Baxter, Stone, Searcy, Lee, Phillips Scattered sites in Ozark-St. Francis National Forest
Benton Bear Hollow Cave Preserve
Benton Camden Hollow Preserve
Benton Cave Springs Cave Natural Area
Benton & Carroll Hobbs State Park-Natural Area
Boone Baker Prairie Natural Area
Bradley, Drew Warren Prairie Natural Area
Calhoun, Cleveland Moro Bottoms
Carroll Kings River Preserve
Clark Terre Noire Natural Area
Clay Stateline Sand Ponds Natural Area
Cleburne Eagle Bluff Preserve
Cleveland Kingsland Prairie Preserve
Columbia Logoly State Park
Columbia, Lafayette, Nevada Falcon Bottoms Natural Area
Franklin Mulberry River Preserve
Franklin Presson-Oglesby Preserve
Garland Electric Island
Greene Scatter Creek Wildlife Management Area
Greene St. Francis Sunken Lands Wildlife Management Area
Hempstead Columbus Prairie Preserve
Hempstead Nacatoch Ravines Natural Area
Hempstead, Howard Scattered blackland prairie sites
Hot Spring Simpson Preserve on Trap Mountain
Howard Stone Road Glade Natural Area
Howard, Polk Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area
Lee Crowley’s Ridge South
Little River White Cliffs Natural Area
Little River, Hempstead Grassy Lake Conservation Area
Lonoke Toltec Indian Mounds State Park
Lonoke, Pulaski Holland Bottoms Wildlife Management Area
Madison Possum Trot Escarpment Preserve
Madison Sweden Creek Falls Natural Area
Marion Big-eared Bat Conservation Area
Marion Brooksher Crooked Creek Preserve
Miller Miller County Sandhills Natural Area
Monroe Benson Creek Natural Area
Monroe Pine City Natural Area
Monroe White River Nature Center
Montgomery Brushy Creek Preserve
Newton Leatherwood Creek
Newton Lyon Big Piney Creek Preserve
Newton Smith Creek Preserve/Sherfield Cave
Ouachita Central Sandhills Preserve
Phillips Burke Crowley’s Ridge Preserve
Prairie Railroad Prairie Natural Area
Prairie Wattensaw Wildlife Management Area
Pulaski Lorance Creek Natural Area
Saline Dunnahoo Preserve
Saline Dry Lost Creek Preserve
Sevier Lower Cossatot River Preserve
Sharp Strawberry River Preserve and Ranch
Stone Blanchard Springs Caverns
Stone Hell Creek Natural Area
Van Buren Gulf Mountain Wildlife Management Area
Washington Garrett Hollow Natural Area
Washington Upper Lee Creek Preserve
White Margaret M. Lightle Wilderness Area
Woodruff, Monroe, Jackson, Prairie, Poinsett, Arkansas Cache River National Wildlife Refuge and scattered sites
Yell Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge

In addition to these sites, the Nature Conservancy conducts restoration and stewardship activities at other conservation areas through contracts and management agreements with the owners. The conservancy has also provided support in several other land transactions, such as the Arkansas-Idaho Land Exchange Act of 1992 between Potlatch Corporation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arkansas-Oklahoma Land Exchange Act of 1996 between Weyerhaeuser Company and the USDA Forest Service.

For additional information:
The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas. (accessed July 28, 2023).

The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas Field Office Records (BC.MSS.14.37). Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. Central Arkansas Library System, Little Rock, Arkansas. Finding aid online at (accessed May 29, 2024).

The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas Newsletters. University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Nancy S. DeLamar
The Nature Conservancy


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