Located within the city limits of Harrison, Arkansas and adjacent to the Harrison High School, Baker Prairie is one of Arkansas’s finest education resources and among the most accessible of all the natural areas in the state. It is a 71-acre remnant of the massive, 5,000 acre prairie complex which one stretched across Northwest Arkansas.
Due to its relatively small size and its urban location, habitat degradation is a constant concern. Baker Prairie is a natural area that must be protected with special care.
Read on to find out why tallgrass prairies like Baker Prairie matter!
Tallgrass prairies are important because they:
- Provide Ongoing Necessary Ecological Protection
Grasslands absorb, filter, and appropriately release groundwater to maintain healthy streams and rivers. Prairies help to reduce flooding, prevent erosion and even ocean warming. In addition to providing habitat for declining bird and animal species, prairies also function as crucial reservoirs for local and migrating pollinators.
- Provide Genetic Biodiversity
Prairie plants and associated communities have historically provided a treasure trove of medicines and food. The loss of only one species could mean the loss of tomorrow’s cure for disease or famine.
- Provide Instruction for Sustainable Agricultural Practice
The ability of the prairie ecosystem to withstand extreme temperatures, drought, and grazing without supplemental irrigation, pesticides, or fertilizers serves as a model for the development of sustainable agriculture.
- Provide Historic Insight Into Our Uniquely American Culture and Heritage
Tallgrass prairies defined the Midwest and fed the world. Our native prairies are a living link from our pioneer past to a sustainable future.
- Provides Destination for Ecotourism and Education
Baker Prairie is a uniquely accessible natural area deserving of much greater recognition throughout the region. Although Baker Prairie has always been appreciated by local naturalists and educators, it has been often overlooked as a source of ecotourism and economic development in the Ozarks.
- Provides a Local, Tangible Opportunity to Serve as Stewards of the Earth
The need is urgent. Temperate grasslands are the most endangered, least conserved terrestrial habitat on earth. The National Academy of Science reports that prairie loss in the American corn belt now exceeds tropical deforestation. Even though Baker Prairie is a protected natural area, its small size and urban location require extra diligence and local appreciation.
Friends of Baker Prairie (FOBP) is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the conservation and preservation of Baker Prairie.
The mission of Friends of Baker Prairie is to protect Baker Prairie for the enjoyment of current and future generations and to promote educational projects informing others about its esthetic, ecological, and historical significance.