MAYFLOWER, Ark. (KTHV) --A hidden treasure lies in Faulkner County, just a short drive north of Little Rock in Mayflower. It's where Arkansans can take a tour of some of the most beautiful wildlife the natural state has to offer without ever leaving their car.
Four thousand acres are worked and maintained by Arkansas Game and Fish, and you would never guess that the Camp Robinson Wildlife Demonstration Area all came by fire.
"It's primary purpose is to be a field trial area," said AGFC Field Biologist, Matt Mourot. "We have a lot of recreational hunting, both small game and also deer hunting. Hiking, bird watching, and also a lot of wildflower viewing on the area."
"There are hundreds of different species on the ground, probably fifty different grass species that are native right here and hundreds of wildflowers and woody plants as well," said Botanist, Theo Witsell with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. "A fire would happen probably every two years at this site or maybe more frequently and burns the shrubs down to the ground and keeps it open for all the other species."
"When you see smoke coming from this part of Arkansas, it's all for habitat reasons. We're trying to recreate that and keep that restored. This area has burned annually for decades but now we have it divided up into sections to probably a two year rotation on most of the areas for burning that," said Martin Blaney, Habitat Coordinator for the AGFC. "Most of our rare plants and rare species in Arkansas are fire dependent and one of the reasons they are rare is because they've lost the habitat that fire would have created."
It is one of the only places in Arkansans where you can take 5-mile driving tour of natural wildlife and habitat in Arkansas. It is free of charge and open to the public. Blaney says the months of April through June are the most popular with thousands of wildflowers in bloom.
"Anytime there is not a field trial area here, you can come out and drive this. The stops are well marked. You can get out and read the kiosks that tell the story that we're trying to let the public in on," says Blaney.