Story and photos by Heather Thurman
Tucked away between Lake Langhofer and Black Dog Bayou off of the Arkansas River in Pine Bluff, sits Arkansas’ first free nature center.
The Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center, a 13,000 square foot facility that sits on 130 acres of prime Delta region land, was dedicated to the former Governor in recognition of his conservation efforts.
Governor Huckabee, an avid outdoorsman and nature enthusiast, rallied for the one-eighth of a cent sales tax increase, known as Amendment 75, that benefits the state’s conservation agencies. With the revenue from this conservation tax, the facility was constructed and opened in July 2001.
The Nature Center, built to resemble a waterfowl hunting lodge, focuses on teaching visitors about the valuable ecosystem of the Delta river bottom environment, as well as the wildlife that lives there. In the main building are several live animal displays as well as interactive exhibits, including a simulated crop duster flight, hides and bones from the region’s animal population, and a lighted model of the river systems in the Delta.
The two large aquariums are filled with aquatic species native to the region. They house huge fish and plenty of turtles to keep the younger audiences captivated. Nearby are flight cages that are home to several eagles. These majestic birds, as well as the other animals at the Nature Center, are fed and presented on a regularly scheduled basis for the visitors.
Heading out the back, you’ll find more than two miles of trails through the beautiful bottomland forest area. There are paved and primitive trails providing great opportunities to see wildlife, stunning native wildflowers, and other regional plants in a natural setting for both little explorers and the more eager adventurer.
The Delta Rivers Nature Center is open year-round, Tuesday – Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. They are closed on Mondays and major holidays.
You can find more information about the Delta Rivers Nature Center or plan a trip at http://www.deltarivers.com/.