Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area opens today

Today at 2 p.m., Governor Asa Hutchinson and Stacy Hurst, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, dedicated Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area, the newest addition to Arkansas’s System of Natural Areas.

The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC), a division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH), will manage the natural area, which was recently acquired by The Nature Conservancy in Arkansas (TNC). The 373-acre tract, located in Pulaski County just west of Pinnacle Mountain State Park, will protect several rare plant and animal species, and also offer to visitors rugged, low-impact activities such as hiking, mountain biking and climbing.

“The partnership to conserve this property is a perfect example of public and private organizations and private landowners working together to save the natural resources that we are so blessed to have in Arkansas,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson.

To date, Rattlesnake Ridge is known to be home to three species of state conservation concern: the Southeastern Bat, the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake and Wright’s Cliffbrake, a western desert fern. The area is also the Eastern-most point of the Western Diamondback habitat.

“For many in central Arkansas, this majestic tract of heritage landscape is already well known and well loved. Offering part of the area for low-impact uses such as hiking and climbing will be a hands-on way to educate the public about the value of conservation, while highlighting the kind of work we do in the System of Natural Areas across the state,” Stacy Hurst, DAH director, said. “Rattlesnake Ridge will provide a unique experience for outdoor enthusiasts.”

ANHC manages a conservation easement on the property, in addition to the 72 natural areas it currently manages across the state. Natural areas are created to preserve and protect the best or last-remaining examples of species or habitats.

The ridge on the property is the watershed divide between the Big Maumelle and Little Maumelle rivers. Its protection is critical to central Arkansas’s water system.

“In addition to the habitat conservation and rugged recreation opportunities, conserving the property helps maintain the water quality of Lake Maumelle, which provides clean drinking water to 600,000 people, and Nowlin Creek, whose water eventually flows through Pinnacle Mountain State Park,” said Scott Simon, TNC director. “We are excited to work with ANHC, Rattlesnake Ridge’s neighbors and the Central Arkansas Trail Alliance to conserve another special place for Arkansans to enjoy.”