Preserving Natural Habitats in Arkansas
Arkansas.com Place Links
To continue surviving, Arkansas native animals require habitat suitable to their species. Many private landowners help meet this need and some are willing to grant birders and wildlife watchers property access when it is requested respectfully. However, Arkansas wildlife and its observers depend heavily upon the conservation and predominantly open access provided by public lands.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are the lead state and federal agencies overseeing Arkansas's resident and migratory wildlife, and they are joined by other governmental agencies in managing public lands that support the birds and other animals found within the state. The U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism also manage significant acreages of noteworthy and varied habitats. The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and the Arkansas chapter of the private, non-profit Nature Conservancy have been instrumental in preserving wildlife and natural habitats in Arkansas and sometimes restoring some of the state's rarest habitats, such as dolomite glade, blackland prairie, and cypress-tupelo swamp.
Numerous other nongovernmental organizations support - financially and otherwise - Arkansas conservation of habitats. These include the Arkansas Ducks Unlimited, Audubon Arkansas and local Audubon Society chapters, the Arkansas Audubon Society the Ozark Society, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Various state and federal agencies, as well as non-profit organizations, provide online resources for exploring their sites of interest to birders and wildlife watchers in Arkansas. Links to those resources include:
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Wildlife Management Areas
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
National Wildlife Refuges in Arkansas
U.S. Forest Service
Ouachita National Forest
Ozark-St. Francis National Forests
National Park Service
Arkansas Post National Memorial
Buffalo National River
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
Arkansas Lake Information
Arkansas Stream Information
Comprehensive State Tourism Information
Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission
Most of the sites within the System of Natural Areas managed by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission are not geared toward visitation, but five have trails, mostly primitive, that make them suited for low-impact activities such as birding, wildlife observation and hiking. Those five sites are the Lorance Creek, Big Creek, Iron Mountain, Kings River Falls and Chalk Bluff natural areas. Information on those can be found at www.naturalheritage.com.
The Nature Conservancy
Important Bird Areas
Arkansas Guides in Print
The Arkansas Watchable Wildlife Guide, a publication of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, provides detailed information, including directions and information about resident species, on 89 of the state's best locations for wildlife viewing. The guide can be purchased by mail or in person at Publication Sales, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, 2 Natural Resources Drive, Little Rock AR 72205.
A Birder's Guide to Arkansas, an American Birding Association publication written by veteran Arkansas birder Mel White, is the best available guide to Arkansas's top birding locations and birds of Arkansas. It provides useful summaries of 59 of the state's best sites, including detailed directions, maps, most productive times to visit and what species to expect. The book, which also gives tips on where to find selected species, can be purchased in local bookstores and state park visitor centers. (Note: Published in 1995, the birder's guide contains a few instances of outdated information.)