Sugarloaf Mountains-Midland Peak adds 1,191 acres to the System of Natural Areas

Featured Image The bluffs, blufftop glades and woodlands at Sugarloaf Mountains-Midland Peak Natural Area. Photo by Brent Baker.
Sugarloaf Mountains-Midland Peak adds 1,191 acres to the System of Natural Areas
Posted By
Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission
Thursday, June 30th 2022
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ANHC natural areas
by Ryan Spotts and Theo Witsell

At the end of May 2022, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission closed on 1,191.44 acres in Sebastian County, creating the Sugarloaf Mountains-Midland Peak Natural Area (NA). This purchase brings ANHC up to a total of 73,442.66 acres managed at 78 natural areas in 50 counties.

This new natural area is part of the Sugarloaf Mountains, which cover about 32 square miles of land straddling the Arkansas and Oklahoma border south of Fort Smith. The mountain range is comprised of four summits (Sugarloaf Mountain and Oklahoma Peak in Oklahoma and East Midland Peak and West Midland Peak in Arkansas) that range in height from 1,996 feet to 2,568 feet. Sugarloaf Mountains-Midland Peak NA contains East Midland Peak and part of the ridge connecting it to West Midland Peak. The area is home to a range of natural communities from dry, treeless grasslands (glades) to mesic hardwood forests.  

Maple leaf oakThe area is home to several species of state and global conservation concern, including the maple-leaf oak (Quercus acerifolia). This species is only confirmed to occur at four sites in the world, all at high elevation in the Arkansas Valley and the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas. The population at Sugarloaf Mountains-Midland Peak NA is the largest known, with over 1,000 individuals. With the ANHC’s purchase of this land, all four populations of maple-leaf oak are now protected. Of the other three populations, one occurs on the top of Mount Magazine in Mount Magazine State Park, and the other two occur on Porter Mountain and Pryor Mountain, two high ridges in the Ouachita National Forest.
Bottom — Maple-leaf oak (Quercus acerifolia), a species of state and global conservation concern. Photo by Theo Witsell. 

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