Stewards of the Environment
Being good stewards of our environment and public lands is an important part of being an Arkansas Master Naturalist. The foundation of good stewardship includes routine maintenance of our natural areas. Through partners such as the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Arkansas Master Naturalists assist with stewardship projects such as prescribed burns, boundary demarcation, liter clean up, invasive species removal, seed collection and hiking trail maintenance.
The importance of fire in ecosystems is not completely understood, but does play an important role. The adjacent photographs show Searles Prairie (hot link) being burned and a seasonal pond that exists in a low spot in the prairie. The natural cycle of fire in prairies kept woody plants at bay, allowing the grasses and herbaceous plants to dominate these vast areas where bison, elk and alpha predators roamed. Searles Prairie is a remnant of the great Osage Prairie that covered vast areas of Northwest Arkansas. Searles Prairie provides habitat for hundreds of prairie plants and critters. It is a living natural history museum. The Arkansas Master Naturalists (hot link) under the direction of the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission provide countless hours preserving and protecting this beautiful natural resource.