Hendrix College Nature Preserve

The Hendrix College Nature Preserve is an 18-acre hotspot of biodiversity in Conway, a region that is otherwise relatively flat and homogeneous. The Hendrix Biology department often take their classes here for outdoors labs, where students engage with the environment through identification of the Arkansas-native flora and fauna, analysis of the mineral make-up of the creek, or insect and vegetation collection to be examined upon return to campus. Conway families can come walk the trail, which leads through the varying micro-ecosystems, or picnic and play at the miniature, pirate-themed playground at the onset of the wooded path. It is free to the public, and operates on a 24 hour, seven days a week basis (though you’re encouraged to only bring leashed animals during a specified time). 

There is great speculation regarding the Preserve, and few on campus seem to have any definite answers. Even the term “preserve” is cause for contention. As pointed by many, implies the Creek has permanently existed in its current state, and the effort is merely in keeping it free from littering and potential outside projects damaging the environment through construction or intrusion. However, a nature preserve is technically defined as any protected area of importance managed to conserve wildlife. Though the largest mystery of the preserve is in its origin. The Creek Preserve in Conway has not always been the flowering, diverse landscape it is today. 

Once a rather lifeless ditch, the stream was heavily polluted and nearly useless to the growing City of Colleges. After thousands of dollars of renovation, the creek is a beautiful landscape with three primary goals. Firstly, the Creek was meant to provide an innovative solution to Conway’s water management problem. Most flooding concerns are solved through the installation of drain pipes throughout the city. The Hendrix Creek Preserve (HCP) now collects rainwater, and the various dams placed throughout cleanse and distribute the water in a productive manner. The improved wetlands allow water that would normally collect and flood to move more slowly and soak back into the soil; it reduces flooding within the 500-acre watershed area surrounding it.

Secondly, the HCP is intended to function as a natural classroom, though not just for those in college. It does work in tandem with the college’s biology department, though the HCP hopes to educate people of all ages. The trails are equipped with signs throughout, explaining both the history of the preserve, and the plants and animals it houses. 

Thirdly, though functioning directly with the first goal, the preserve is intended to bring a fresh sense of biodiversity to the city. The creek is now home to Arkansas native fish and turtles. One visiting the preserve can see a field, various wetlands, and a forest, all in one trek around the trail. A major aspect of HCP maintenance is the removal of nonnative species, and the cultivation of plants that are already adapted to similar environments. 

Those involved in this project are even less familiar than the origin of the preserve itself. Some theorized it was a project in tandem with Conway Boy Scouts, though there is no confirmation in their involvement in the development of the Preserve. Others know vaguely of those involved at the time of its construction, such as the former Hendrix president, but little of the individuals participating. 

The HCP is a collaborative project, involving minds from The Hendrix Village, the Hendrix biology department, the Hendrix environmental studies department, Southwestern Energy, various environmental engineers, and the U.S. Army Corps of engineers. Initial funding went to clean the stream, construct the trail, the dams, and the bridges, and regulate the natural life present. Current funding is used for regular upkeep and the installation of updated signage, and animal waste stations. The Nature Preserve is valued across Conway for providing a calming, recreational space, though few recognize the deep value it has for our community. 

The Hendrix College Nature Preserve is an 18-acre hotspot of biodiversity in Conway, a region that is otherwise relatively flat and homogeneous. The Hendrix Biology department often take their classes here for outdoors labs, where students engage with the environment through identification of the Arkansas-native flora and fauna, analysis of the mineral make-up of the creek, or insect and vegetation collection to be examined upon return to campus. Conway families can come walk the trail, which leads through the varying micro-ecosystems, or picnic and play at the miniature, pirate-themed playground at the onset of the wooded path. It is free to the public, and operates on a 24 hour, seven days a week basis (though you’re encouraged to only bring leashed animals during a specified time). 

There is great speculation regarding the Preserve, and few on campus seem to have any definite answers. Even the term “preserve” is cause for contention. As pointed by many, implies the Creek has permanently existed in its current state, and the effort is merely in keeping it free from littering and potential outside projects damaging the environment through construction or intrusion. However, a nature preserve is technically defined as any protected area of importance managed to conserve wildlife. Though the largest mystery of the preserve is in its origin. The Creek Preserve in Conway has not always been the flowering, diverse landscape it is today. 

Once a rather lifeless ditch, the stream was heavily polluted and nearly useless to the growing City of Colleges. After thousands of dollars of renovation, the creek is a beautiful landscape with three primary goals. Firstly, the Creek was meant to provide an innovative solution to Conway’s water management problem. Most flooding concerns are solved through the installation of drain pipes throughout the city. The Hendrix Creek Preserve (HCP) now collects rainwater, and the various dams placed throughout cleanse and distribute the water in a productive manner. The improved wetlands allow water that would normally collect and flood to move more slowly and soak back into the soil; it reduces flooding within the 500-acre watershed area surrounding it.

Secondly, the HCP is intended to function as a natural classroom, though not just for those in college. It does work in tandem with the college’s biology department, though the HCP hopes to educate people of all ages. The trails are equipped with signs throughout, explaining both the history of the preserve, and the plants and animals it houses. 

Thirdly, though functioning directly with the first goal, the preserve is intended to bring a fresh sense of biodiversity to the city. The creek is now home to Arkansas native fish and turtles. One visiting the preserve can see a field, various wetlands, and a forest, all in one trek around the trail. A major aspect of HCP maintenance is the removal of nonnative species, and the cultivation of plants that are already adapted to similar environments. 

Those involved in this project are even less familiar than the origin of the preserve itself. Some theorized it was a project in tandem with Conway Boy Scouts, though there is no confirmation in their involvement in the development of the Preserve. Others know vaguely of those involved at the time of its construction, such as the former Hendrix president, but little of the individuals participating. 

The HCP is a collaborative project, involving minds from The Hendrix Village, the Hendrix biology department, the Hendrix environmental studies department, Southwestern Energy, various environmental engineers, and the U.S. Army Corps of engineers. Initial funding went to clean the stream, construct the trail, the dams, and the bridges, and regulate the natural life present. Current funding is used for regular upkeep and the installation of updated signage, and animal waste stations.The Nature Preserve is valued across Conway for providing a calming, recreational space, though few recognize the deep value it has for our community. 

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