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Preserving land for trails as well as for habitat conservation is the goal of Fayetteville, Arkansas Natural Heritage Association.

arrow This project was nominated for a Partnership Award as part of the 2008 National Trails Awards, announced at the 19th National Trails Symposium in Little Rock, Arkansas.

 

Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association leads land conservation effort

The Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association, Inc. (FNHA) was formed in 2002 by a group of citizens who became concerned that rapid growth and development in Fayetteville would lead to the loss of cherished natural areas in the community. The stated mission of the organization is "to conserve natural areas of Fayetteville and it's environs for the benefit of present and future generations." It is a non-profit corporation certified by the State of Arkansas and has 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. This organization is run by a board of directors, has over 700 members and has worked in partnership with other groups including the City government to further it's mission. It has accomplishing several important projects.

photo of group on trail

A crowd enjoying the trails at Friends of Oscar Scherer Park

 

In 2003, the FNHA led a campaign to save a 67 acre tract of old growth forest in the midst of Fayetteville known as Mount Sequoia Woods which was being put up for sale. This urban forest was home to deer, fox and many other animals and plants including many trees over one hundred years of age. The FNHA pledged to raise $300,000 of the $1,300,000 purchase price to help and to encourage the City to acquire the land which they now have done making it a part of Fayetteville's future natural heritage.

By actively soliciting private donations and holding fund raisers the FNHA has raised and given the City $200,000 toward it's pledge. The remainder has now been raised and will include a classic natural stone and timber pavilion located in the Woods (see enclosed photo). In addition and largely because Mount Sequoyah Woods was saved, an adjacent tract of 30 forested acres was given to the City by the heirs of an estate of a local land owner. Now Fayetteville has a nearly 100 acre urban forest complete with nature trails and wildlife.

Also, the FNHA realized that in order to save special natural areas, they first had to be identified. To accomplish this task, the FNHA obtained a $25,000 matching grant from the State Forestry Commission in 2005. To establish criteria for what constituted a high quality natural area, the FNHA obtained input from a publicly circulated questionnaire and an advisory council of professionals and scientists (many from the University of Arkansas).

photo of open timber building

natural stone and timber pavilion in Mount Sequoyah Woods

When the criteria were established, the organization worked with GIS specialists at the local Nature Conservancy office and developed a "Conservation Priority Ranking" of all undeveloped areas in and around Fayetteville. This bank of information will now be available for future efforts to conserve valuable natural areas. The grant for this study was matched by labor of FNHA members many of whom are professionals who work in this area.

The next big accomplishment of the organization, was to help raise public awareness and funds to save a beautiful 13 acre valley, the Brooks-Hummel property, which was being put up for sale. This area was located in the middle of town with wildlife, a stream and forested hillsides. By partnering with the local neighbors and using it's 501(c)(3) status, the FNHA helped raise $180,000 which was added to an appropriation by the City to purchase the property and establish it as a natural public park. Trails within the park have been laid out and will be built later in 2008.

In addition and in accordance with it's mission, the FNHA has agreed to monitor a conservation easement which a local land owner placed on thirty acres of his property thereby avoiding the cost of having this done by land trust organization. This land is forested and has a nature trail which is open to the public. Also, the FNHA has "adopted" a section of a Scull Creek Trail, a newly constructed city trail, and will provide clean-up work on this section of the City's trail system.

open timber building

Inside the Sequoyah Pavilion showing Detail

Upcoming projects include another $25,000 "matching with labor" grant to identify a network of working landscapes, trails, watersheds, parks and natural and historic areas of four adjacent towns including Fayetteville which will create a "natural beltway" linking these communities together.

Also, the FNHA would like to establish a method of sustainable funding through a minimal tax for developing a green infrastructure in Fayetteville for the future and will be conducting a poll to determine the public's support for this idea.

All this work, these ideas and projects have been accomplished for one reason -- to make Fayetteville a better place to live for present and future generations.

For more information:

Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association
P.O. Box 3635, Fayetteville, AR 72702-3635
www.fayettevillenatural.org/

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