Three tracts of high-quality prairie remnants have added 116.94 acres to H.E. Flanagan Prairie Natural Area (NA) in Franklin County. The three contiguous tracts of land adjoin The Nature Conservancy's Presson-Oglesby Preserve, adding to the area’s conservation corridor.
Along with the nearby Cherokee Prairie Natural Area, Flanagan Prairie NA is among the few remnants of the more extensive Cherokee Prairie Complex that formerly occupied approximately 135,000 acres of the western portion of the Arkansas Valley ecoregion of Arkansas. Flanagan Prairie NA is an excellent example of a tallgrass prairie, which differs from prairies elsewhere in Arkansas due to its shale-derived soil. Tallgrass prairies often have rich topsoil, and as the name implies, are dominated by several species of tall grasses, most notably big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), switch grass (Panicum virgatum), and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans). In addition to these “backbone species,” prairies support hundreds of other species of grasses, sedges, rushes, forbs (wildflowers), and shrubs, as well as a rich and varied fauna.
Flanagan Prairie NA became part of the Arkansas statewide System of Natural Areas in 1988. The former Arkansas First Lady Betty Bumpers grew up in Franklin County and the natural area is named for her father, H.E. “Babe” Flanagan, who once owned the property.