BENTONVILLE – A grant from the Walton Family Foundation has been awarded to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The $980,000 grant will be used to help pay for construction of the state’s newest nature center currently under construction in Springdale.
AGFC funds, along with contributions from donors and private entities, will help pay for the facility. The project began two years ago when the City of Springdale donated the property to the Commission.
“We are very grateful to the Walton Family Foundation for granting these dollars to the agency so that we can build a center that the region and state will be proud to call their own,” AGFC Deputy Director Chris Colclasure said.
The center is located immediately east of Interstate 49, where Spring Creek flows under the highway. The 61-acre complex will include an outdoor 3-D archery range, a northern bobwhite education pavilion, walking and biking trails, a 25-acre native tallgrass prairie restoration project, native plant demonstration gardens and outdoor classrooms. Indoors, visitors will be able to take advantage of an archery range, participate in hands-on classes in one of three classrooms, and explore the state-of-the art exhibits featuring the wildlife and seasons of the Ozarks.
A spur of the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Greenway will pass through the nature center site. Trail users will be able to take advantage of the bike plaza and fix-it station that have been added to the plans, thanks to the grant.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation is leading a fundraising campaign to help offset the costs of construction and attract additional private contributors.
“We’ve been fortunate to have contributors such as Johnelle Hunt, Walmart Northwest Giving and others,” Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation president Deke Whitbeck said. “We’re especially grateful to the people of Northwest Arkansas and the corporate community in the area for their generosity as we continue to move forward in this campaign,” he added.
Construction began on the nature center in December 2018. The center is expected to open in October 2020.
The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. The children and grandchildren of Sam and Helen Walton, lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. They work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in their home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. To learn more, visit www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org.