LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – The Nature Conservancy recently purchased 3,609 acres of woodlands in south Arkansas from Plum Creek. The land, located in Union County, consists of primarily pine flatwoods, which are the second-least protected habitat in the United States and which support Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, an endangered species.
"The Plum Creek lands in Union County provide habitat for one quarter of all the Red-cockaded Woodpeckers in Arkansas," said Scott Simon, director of the Conservancy in Arkansas. "This land not only supports endangered species, but ground-nesting species like turkey and quail thrive in open woodlands that are maintained with periodic thinning and controlled burns."
Joe Fox, the Conservancy's director of conservation forestry, said the acreage is particularly important because it's adjacent to the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge and the Beryl Anthony Wildlife Management Area. The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and Arkansas Game and Fish commission own close to 90,000 acres in the area, most of which is open to the public for hunting, fishing, wildlife watching and other recreational opportunities.
"Plum Creek saw the value of conserving this unique landscape," Fox said. "They've been great stewards of this land, and they've been great partners in this acquisition. This habitat is in excellent condition, making it prime land for our conservation efforts."
Brady Baker, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's regional wildlife management supervisor, is excited about the protection of more of the pine flatwoods ecosystem through the acquisition. "It will compliment a similar effort between conservation partners to protect the rapidly disappearing habitat type at Moro Big Pine Natural Area- Wildlife Management Area in Calhoun County," Baker explained.
The Nature Conservancy's 3,609 acre purchase is part of a larger purchase between Conservation Forestry, LLC and Plum Creek. Conservation Forestry, LLC is an investment organization that aligns private equity with conservation capital for the purpose of acquiring and managing large forest landscapes.