The ANHC recently acquired a 638-acre addition to the Devil’s Eyebrow Natural Area (DENA) that will provide additional public access and increased hunting, birding and hiking opportunities for the area.
The addition protects a series of glades, bluffs and hollows that support collared lizards as well as many rare plant species that weren’t previously protected within the existing natural area. More than 650 species of plants have been documented at Devil’s Eyebrow, making it one of the most diverse natural areas in the state. Its location also provides close connectivity to other public lands, such as the Mark Twain National Forest and Beaver Lake, which greatly benefits area wildlife.
The ANHC will manage the property collaboratively with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Department of Arkansas Heritage Director Stacy Hurst said “we thank everyone who helped with the acquisition of this great addition to the System of Natural Areas. This addition to Devil’s Eyebrow Natural Area was made possible in part by grant funding from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism’s Outdoor Recreation Grants Program.”
The grants helped cover part of the $1.2 million cost of the acquisition. Also, a portion of the appraised value was donated by the former landowner, Todd Banks.
Banks, whose family acquired the property in the 1960s, said he has fond memories of family weekends building trails and exploring the caves, bluffs and hollows of the area.
When an energy company informed him of its intent to seek approval for a power line that would bisect the land, Banks said he contacted ANHC seeking to better understand the environmental impact such a project would have.
“Our dialogue developed over the course of the next year as we explored the botanical uniqueness of the property. It became clear that the ANHC would be a fantastic steward of this property and could preserve and enhance its characteristics for generations going forward,” Banks said. “I am very pleased that we were able to structure a combined acquisition and charitable donation to preserve this beautiful area in the Northwest Ozarks.”
By drawing more hunters, birdwatchers and hikers to the area, the addition to the natural area will also be good for the economy, said Jeff Hawkins, executive director of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission.
“We strongly support the acquisition and preservation of this unique area as an addition to Devil’s Eyebrow Natural Area, which we consider an environmental treasure within Arkansas’s System of Natural Areas,” Hawkins said. “The addition is consistent with the goals, objectives, and planned development of our region.”