The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC), staff, and partners recently visited the Illinois River Watershed Partnership (IRWP) Education Center and adjoining Cave Springs Cave Natural Area (NA) in Benton County for a quarterly meeting. They toured the IRWP facility and grounds, as well as Cave Springs Cave NA.
Cave Springs Cave NA hosts the largest known population of the rare Ozark cavefish, a summer maternity colony of gray bats, and rare plant species like the Ozark trillium. The IRWP maintains a sanctuary and education center on property adjoining Cave Springs Cave NA, partnering with the ANHC to improve conservation efforts within the Cave Springs Cave Recharge Area.
The following day, ANHC staff members gave a guided tour to the Commission at Kings River Falls Natural Area (NA) in Madison County. The ANHC completed a joint restoration project at Kings River Falls NA with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), private landowners, and Madison County in the spring of 2015. The project stabilized the river’s banks, restored the channel to historic size and function, and revegetated the banks of the river. As one of the most visited natural areas, Kings River Falls NA also received a parking lot expansion this past winter to accommodate the volume of visitors it receives each year. The tour enabled Commissioners to see the results of both of these projects.