By The Nature Conservancy
EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. — The Nature Conservancy in Arkansas announced today that it recently purchased 4,557 acres at the Kings River, about five miles southeast of Eureka Springs, Ark. The property includes approximately seven miles of frontage along both sides of the river, and here the Conservancy will establish its Kings River Preserve, making it the 41st preserve the non-profit conservation organization owns in Arkansas. Prior to its purchase by the Conservancy, the site was a family-owned cattle ranch.
“The Kings River is beautiful and forested along most of its corridor,” said Scott Simon, the Conservancy’s director in Arkansas. “Our primary goal in purchasing the property is to help maintain water quality in the Kings River.”
The Kings River flows north into Table Rock Lake, where it joins the White River, which serves as a source of drinking water for dozens of communities in Arkansas and Missouri. Within the Kings and its tributaries are fish, crayfish, mussels, turtles and aquatic insects found only within the Ozarks, including a stonefly that lives in the Kings River watershed and nowhere else on Earth.
In addition to the drinking water and the stream’s ecological significance, the Kings is a popular river for paddling, swimming, wildlife watching and fishing.
“At the preserve, we’ll work to reduce sediment entering the stream, which can fill in gravel beds and choke out organisms at the bottom of the food chain and affect those at the top, like smallmouth bass,” said Tim Snell, the Conservancy’s water resources director. “We hope to help the Kings River continue to be a treasured recreational resource and a prime spot for smallmouth bass fishing.”
Ernie Kilman’s Kings River Outfitters sits on land surrounded by the property the Conservancy purchased.
“The Kings River is such an incredibly scenic place, and that’s because it’s a natural stream – one with forested and bluff-lined banks,” Kilman said. “Knowing that my son will be able to canoe on this river with his children and grandchildren and it will look the same – or better – than it does now is a wonderful thought. It’s great knowing that this land remains in good hands.”
The Nature Conservancy is planning a public dedication ceremony on May 8. Information about the event will be posted at nature.org/arkansas.
The State of Arkansas has designated the Kings River an “Extraordinary Resource Waterbody” or ERW. Many of the most pristine and important streams in Arkansas have ERW designations that protect them from potentially detrimental actions such as damming and gravel mining. According to the state, ERWs warrant extra protection because of their “scenic beauty, aesthetics, scientific values, broad scope recreation potential and intangible social values.” Of 20,000 stream miles in the state, only 1,500 miles have this designation.
To view photos and learn more about the Kings River Preserve and the Conservancy’s other preserves and work in the Natural State, visit nature.org/arkansas.