Important Bird Areas

Arkansas Post National Memorial

Arkansas

Arkansas Post National Memorial, a unit of the National Park Service, is located 8.7 miles south of the town of Gillett, Arkansas on AR State Highway 169. The park is within the Mississippi Alluvial Plain and features several habitat types including bottomland hardwood forest, upland forest, forested wetlands, and emergent wetlands. It also features a man-made lake, sloughs, walking trails (some are ADA compliant), a picnic area with restrooms, and a Visitor Center staffed by Rangers knowledgeable about the history and natural resources of the park. The park is surrounded by bayous and the Arkansas River; the surrounding landscape consists of bottomland hardwood forests, agricultural fields, and small woodlots. The site?s location along the Arkansas River, near the confluences with the White and Mississippi Rivers, and within the Mississippi Flyway bird migration corridor, leads to a diversity of birds that breed, winter, or migrate through each year. Easy accessibility by the public to so many habitat types and birds makes this site special and exceptional. The management uses bird surveys to inform management decisions. Staff are also there to educate the public about birds through interpretive programming, museum displays, and publications.

Ornithological Summary

Arkansas Post features many types of habitats in a relatively small area, providing resources needed for survival for a wide variety of birds. Many of the site?s trails are ADA accessible, allowing individuals with disabilities the opportunity to travel to unique habitats and observe birds that are often found in areas that are difficult to access, providing them a unique opportunity in this area of Arkansas. The site is a unit of the National Park Service and is protected from hunting and development, a status that will continue into the future. The site has a commitment to research and conducts annual bird surveys on breeding bird populations in cooperation with Heartland Inventory and Monitoring Network scientists. Through the Heartland Network, the site also monitors habitat and uses this and the breeding bird survey results to direct management decisions to benefit bird populations. The site also conducts annual secretive marshbird surveys through cooperation with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and utilizes the results of these to make management decisions regarding vegetation management within the site?s waters.

The site is committed to public outreach and provides formal and informal bird-related education programs throughout the year. These formal programs include bird identification workshops, birding hikes, and birding programs at the site?s annual Biodiversity Fair. The informal programs include leading visitor-requested birding hikes, informing visitors of what birds they may see and hear during their visit, and assisting visitors with bird identification. The site also leads a volunteer effort to conduct Great Backyard Bird Counts within the park.

The commitment to manage the site?s resources for the benefit of Arkansas?s birds, the public outreach efforts of the site?s staff, the accessibility of resources to the public, the diversity of habitats and birds, and the commitment to science, all add up to make this site an important area for Arkansas birds.

Conservation Issues

Agriculture: Arkansas Post is surrounded on three sides by bodies of water: the Arkansas River, Post Bayou, and Post Bend. Upstream of the Post are many farms utilizing pesticides which inevitably wash downstream into the Post?s waters. The water quality is not monitored at the park.
Disease: Some trees within the Post?s forests have become infected with hypoxylon canker, a fungus that has been shown to kill trees that have been exposed to extreme drought or weather. There currently are no known bird diseases infecting the Post?s birds.
Disturbance to birds: Frequent boating traffic in the water?s surrounding Arkansas Post could be disturbing to birds. There are roads and trails throughout the park that support on and off-road vehicles that may be disturbing to birds. The only off-road vehicles used in the Park are operated by Park staff.
Non-native species: Non-native birds and plants could be a threat to native birds. The Park has an aggressive exotic plant management project that clears invasive species and restores native plant populations.
Cowbird parasitism: Yearly breeding bird surveys have shown significant populations of cowbirds are present within the Park.
Water Diversions: Sedimentation within the bayous around the Park is possible and likely.

Ownership

Arkansas Post National Memorial is a unit of the National Park Service.

Habitat

In the southern portions there are tree species typical of bottomland hardwood forest such as pecan, hickory, green ash, and water oak, with a well-developed and diverse understory. In the interior portions of the park, the stands mostly consist of cherrybark oak, sweet gum, and other mixed oaks interspersed with more upland species such as loblolly pine, post oak, and eastern red cedar, also with a well-developed and diverse understory. The northern areas of the park consist of mostly mixed oak species, sweet gum, and some eastern red cedar, with a slightly less well-developed understory than the other areas. Near Alligator Slough the stand is primarily of sweet gum. On the western edge, stands consist mostly of sweet gum, pecan hickory, and black locust with a well-developed, diverse understory. Within this area is a section that was formerly restored tall grass prairie, which now consists of a variety of grass species, eastern red cedar, and sweet gum. In the western interior area, there is a stand of primarily eastern red cedar with an undeveloped understory. The mowed areas of the park are interspersed with post oaks. Along the edges of water on the northwestern portion of the park and along the Highway 169 bridge entering the park, there is an abundance of aquatic and semi-aquatic plants such as American lotus, water hyacinth, and cattails.

Land Use

Arkansas Post National Memorial is a unit of the National Park Service, a public lands management agency. The entire park is protected and devoid of hunting, new development, and agriculture. It is a National Historic Landmark commemorating over 300 years of European settlement and contains important archeological resources. The Park contains visitor services including a picnic area, comfort station, visitor center with museum, fishing areas, and walking trails. The mission of the National Park Service is to ?to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations?, and Arkansas Post is managed in a manner consistent with this mission.

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