The Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center is housed in a 16,232-square foot building on 3.4 acres of land overlooking the Arkansas River, inside the Julius Breckling Riverfront Park, in Little Rock, Arkansas. Visitors to the Center will enjoy a variety of outdoor recreational activities provided by the state’s fish and wildlife resources. The Witt Stephen’s Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center was established in December of 2008.



History

The center encompasses 3.4 acres of land in the Breckling Riverfront Park, in Little Rock Arkansas. The building itself boasts 16,232-square feet. The location is part of the River Market District and is next to the Museum of Discovery, Clinton Foundation Store, and the Clinton Presidential Library. Those visiting the State House Convention Center can access the Center via one of numerous walking paths.

The center provides a variety of outdoor activities offered through the state’s fish and wildlife resources. Exhibits feature the role fish and wildlife management plays through the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s history. The center’s location on the Arkansas River offers several opportunities to study wildlife in an urban area. Part of the Arkansas River Trail crosses the acreage the center encompasses, providing more opportunities to explore. Animals such as water turtles, butterflies, and pelicans are common on the grounds. The grounds also feature beds of Arkansas plants. The primary building consists of aquariums, an exhibit gallery, a theater, a gift shop and special instructive programs.

Things to Do

The Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center offers visitors a variety of indoor and outdoor recreational activities.

Indoor Activities- Visitors to the indoor facility will watch a ten-minute presentation in high def that focuses on the Center and the part it plays in conservation. After the film, visitors will move through the cabin of a trapper which gives the appearance of being deep in the woods, following a water source that runs through a series of live habitat exhibits.

· Ozark Plateau- Ozark region is reflected by a pool with big rocks, and river-bottom stones at the base of a sequence of springs and water-falls. Visitors will hear the sounds of nature in the region, such as elk trumpeting, o barking, turkeys gobbling, and the calls of whip-poor-wills and wood thrushes.

· Ouachita Mountains- These mountains are one of the rare east-west ranges on the North American Continent. This orientation causes hardwood and pine forests to alternate on south and north facing ridges. The trees are signified by a stream running along a course lined with rock.

· Arkansas River- The center contains a huge aquarium with running water displays containing some of the bigger fish found in the river. Visitors can see the river itself just a little way out from the Center. The river contains belted kingfishers, waterfowl, and blue herons frequently. During their fall migration, white pelicans can also be spotted the river.

· Coastal Plain­- A swamp environment is represented with Cypress tree bases and knees.

· Mississippi Delta- The first object encountered in this exhibit is a huge fallen tree with a snake slithering amid its roots. Turtles, ducks, geese, and big fish are showcased in this marshy region. Visitor will hear the sounds of the delta including the Chuck-wills-widows call and frogs croaking.

· Delta Country/Big Woods- Information about the AGFC’s part in management and conservation can be found in this exhibit. The Big Woods Conservation story is also interpreted here.

· AGFC Divisions- This exhibit features display cases that showcase the three major divisions of the Center: Law Enforcement, Fisheries, and Wildlife Management. Visitors are able to learn more about the parts of agency employees with interactive activities

· Lounge Area- Visitors get the chance to pick up brochures and maps and sit down to enjoy the view of the Arkansas River.

Outdoor Activities- Outside the facility on the grounds visitors will find several bird-feeding stations amid the hedging and easy flowing brook. There is an interactive map of the state that features Arkansas’s natural resources employing a laser projector system. The location of the center along the Arkansas River offers opportunities to study various forms of wildlife in their natural habitat. Trails can be found on the grounds offering more chance to explore.

Educational Opportunities

AGFC offers several educational courses on various subjects.

Boating Education Classes- This class is mandatory for all those interested in operating a motorboat. It teaches the basics of responsible, safe boating.

Hunter Education Classes- This class is for those interested in hunting as a sport and covers safety, sportsmanship, shooting sports available, and recreational prospects.

Shopping

The AGFC runs the Nature Gift Shop inside the facility. It features toys, games, animal guides, books on nature, outdoor-themed items, educational items, and jewelry.

602 President Clinton Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72201, Phone: 501-907-0636

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