What do rare, rocky glade habitats and the sport fish bass and crappie have in common? For the ANHC and the Hot Springs Village Property Owners’ Association, the answer is eastern red-cedar (Juniperus virginiana). Earlier this year, the ANHC formalized an agreement with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) to help remove invasive red cedar trees from natural areas and move them to nearby lakes to improve fish habitat. This statewide cooperative approach became the Restoring Prairies and Glades for Fish and Anglers program.
Now, ANHC has developed a similar partnership with the Hot Springs Village Lake Management Department which oversees 11 lakes, as well as members of the Hot Springs Village Anglers Club and Baitcasters Club. Volunteers from these groups will be working closely with our stewardship staff to target the cedar trees on their neighboring natural area - Middle Fork Barrens.
Middle Fork Barrens in Saline County is a complex of open glades and barrens. This habitat supports several globally rare plants and at least one endemic plant not found anywhere else in the world. Red cedar trees can quickly overtake these glades and deprive the native plants of vital nutrients and sunlight, so removing them is a critical management goal for the area.
Structures such as the complex branches of cedar trees, provide shelter for both the fish and the insects and other invertebrates they eat, ultimately increasing the growth rates for game fish such as sunfish, crappie, black bass, and walleye. Once the trees are “recycled” as fish habitat in the lakes of Hot Springs Village, they will create brush piles which will help anglers locate more fish.