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PNS Daily Newscast - November 16, 2018 


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Terre Noire Preserve Dedication: Room to Roam for People to Birds

PHOTO: When the Sierra Club and Audubon Arkansas settled with SouthWest Power over construction of a coal fired power plant, eight million dollars was directed to The Nature Conservancy for the purchase and preservation of lands. The first tract from with that funding, the Terra Noire Preserve, is dedicated today. CREDIT: TNC of Arkansas
PHOTO: When the Sierra Club and Audubon Arkansas settled with SouthWest Power over construction of a coal fired power plant, eight million dollars was directed to The Nature Conservancy for the purchase and preservation of lands. The first tract from with that funding, the Terra Noire Preserve, is dedicated today. CREDIT: TNC of Arkansas
May 17, 2013

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – There is not much native prairie left in Arkansas, but a new tract to come under protection is being opened to the public today near Arkadelphia.

The 360 acres will be part of the larger Terre Noire Conservation Area. The protection of these Blackland Prairies is vital, says Douglas Zollner, director of conservation with The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas.

Zollner notes that when the state was settled, there were around 2 million acres of prairie. Today, only about three percent of that still exists.

"And this is one of those places,” he says. “And it's old Gulf of Mexico shoreline. And these are 150 million year old oyster beds. They stretch from around White Cliffs on the Little River up through Old Washington (Historic State Park) and up to Terre Noire."

Today's dedication is taking place at the new Terre Noire Preserve, which is west of Arkadelphia, just north of the Highway 26/51 split.

The prairie grasslands are home to some 400 different species of plants, and wildflowers bloom from spring to fall.

They're also important, says Ellen Fennell, executive state director of Audubon Arkansas, because they harbor a variety of migratory birds.

"And many of these birds are at risk in Arkansas and globally,” she says. “The species of greatest conservation need that will be helped by the restoration there include northern bobwhite, and prairie warbler, painted bunting, grasshopper sparrow and many others."

In addition to the conservation aspect, Fennell says the land is open to all to roam and enjoy nature.

"Our goals were to provide some areas where we could conserve habitat,” she says, “and also make those areas available for public use and enjoyment. So it's been a win-win for the people of Arkansas and for the environment."

The area being dedicated today was purchased by The Nature Conservancy, which received $8 million dollars for such efforts as directed by the Arkansas Chapter of the Sierra Club and Audubon Arkansas in their settlement with Southwestern Electric Power Company over the construction of the Turk coal-fired power plant.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - AR