Wildlife Habitat Improvements at ARK Trails

The ARK trails are located near Arkabutla Lake, on a 154 acre wildlife sanctuary owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers and leased by Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation, a 501-C Non Profit in partnership with DeSoto County Greenways. The open areas are being planted with species of native warm season grasses (NWSG) and native wildflower species to increase biodiversity. This effort began with herbicide application in September, 2015 to remove invasive species such as kudzu and Chinese privet, and additional herbicide application and planting of seeds and plants will take place in the spring 2016. This replanted area will create an area more beneficial to local wildlife and pollinators, including the Monarch Butterfly. Also, Greenways volunteers have erected a chimney swift tower and two bat houses in early 2016. Four blue bird houses will be erected in the Spring of 2016. Interpretive signage will be installed describing the animal life and species found in the area.

Prior to this project, a species inventory was conducted by the Mississippi Wildlife Fisheries and Parks. We will conduct another species inventory this spring to measure success. Visitors to the ARK trails will enjoy the beauty of the native plantings and the associated wildlife it attracts. Volunteers involved in the effort will gain an appreciation for the need for maintaining wild areas in a fast growing area.

The DeSoto County Greenways Volunteer Coordinator is soliciting volunteers to help with the project. The Chimney Swift Tower was the result of an Eagle Scout project. The Blue Bird houses are being built and erected by volunteers. The US Army Corps of Engineers provided designs for the bat houses. Interpretive signage includes depictions of Early Native American inhabitants that occupied this area during the prehistoric period, native peoples hunted, fished, collected food, raised families and defended their homes.

The ARK Trails are an important part of the Greenprint Network. DeSoto County Greenways’ outreach and volunteer efforts addresses equitable participation and community ownership; promote health and safe communities with the recreation benefits; address sustainable resources (wildlife habitat) and promote a quality outdoor environment.