Gentry plays significant role
Gentry is legitimately proud of Eagle Watch Nature Trail. The educational trail, now with two pavilions for viewing birds on SWEPCO Lake, draws visitors from all over Northwest Arkansas, plus from communities in adjoining states. Photographs appearing in regional newspapers and, increasingly, in books have been taken at Eagle Watch. The draw of visitors has a positive spillover to local businesses providing fuel and food. That is to say, Eagle Watch is good for business.
I only bring it up because Gentry also has legitimate bragging rights in the recently established Flint Creek Nature Area, on Dawn Hill Road just east of Sleepy Hollow Store. The nature area centers around Pipe Springs where it flows into Flint Creek. This project also has a partner in the McKee family’s Outdoor Happiness grants program. Visits to this natural area will also provide long-term economic boosts.
Gentry has a golden opportunity to expand the good impacts of these two civicminded projects. Between Eagle Watch and Flint Creek Nature Area are a few acres of rare and historically significant prairie habitat that would make the third diamond in the crown of Gentry’s efforts to preserve its natural heritage.
Gentry is prairie country. Once seemingly endless, once numbering in the tens of thousands of flower-filled acres, the original prairie and the story of the people who first came to live here are fast disappearing. Acquisition of the few acres of prairie adjacent to Gentry City Park would be a perfect fit for Gentry’s preservation of its natural heritage.
The current population of Northwest Arkansas exceeds 500,000 and is expected to reach 800,000 within a few decades. People of that future will be well served if we recognize the natural world from which all of this has come.
Many thanks to SWEPCO and American Electric Power for continuing support. Eagle Watch is a real boost to those interested in our region’s birds and wildlife, including educators who use it as an outdoor classroom. Many thanks to McKee Foods and the city of Gentry for preserving Pipe Springs and access to Flint Creek at Flint Creek Nature Area.
These two jobs are well done. Owners of Gentry Prairie are willing to sell. Now is the time to nail down that part of Gentry’s natural heritage. Viewed together, Eagle Watch NatureTrail, Flint Creek Nature Area and a Gentry Prairie and Nature Trail will make Gentry unique among communities in Northwest Arkansas. Joe Neal USDA Forest Service Wildlife Biologist (retired) Fayetteville