Residents from across Arkansas are invited to participate in the Byrd Lake Natural Area Appreciation Day.


The event will take place from 9 a.m. until noon, Saturday, July 21, at the Byrd Lake Natural Area located at 43rd Avenue at Pine Bluff.


Partners in the event include Keep Arkansas Beautiful, the city of Pine Bluff, and the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission.


John Pennington is a Jefferson County urban stormwater agent for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.


The outdoor recreation-based stewardship event is intended to “draw attention to and take care of a magnificent natural resource,” he said in a news release.


“Taking care of natural areas is really taking care of ourselves, our community, and our state,” Pennington said. “Natural areas help provide valuable ecosystem services like primary drinking water filtration, flood attenuation, pollinator habitat and climate change resilience.”


Byrd Lake is an oxbow lake that still interacts with its parent stream, Bayou Bartholomew, during times of high water. The natural area is representative of the boundary line between the Mississippi Alluvial Plain and the Coastal Plain regions of Arkansas. Participants at the event will be treated to a half-mile interpretive hike, and will be encouraged to help take part in active stewardship during the event, according to the release.


“Byrd Lake Natural Area is an Arkansas gem that needs some help from caring volunteers and interested citizens,” Pennington said.


Like many natural areas in the state, the Byrd Lake area is confronted with litter and other pollution from nearby urban areas — in this case, a major highway and a shopping center. Trash discarded by passing motorists often gets washed into storm drains, ending up discharged in bayous and other waterways, according to the release.


“Natural areas also add quality of life benefits by allowing for a variety of educational applications and forms of recreation such as biking, hiking and boating, along with retention of our natural heritage,” Pennington said. “These areas also provide economic benefits by serving as tourist destinations and increasing the attractiveness of a community that is necessary to attract, recruit and retain talent necessary to fuel and sustain community and economic development.”


The Byrd Lake Natural Area is a part of the system of natural areas in the state of Arkansas that are preserved and managed by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission.


“Individuals and groups wanting to improve the water quality, wildlife habitat, and quality of life in the state of Arkansas can make a positive impact by joining in this effort to remove litter from a natural area. Residents can also adopt a natural area by visiting http://www.naturalheritage.com,” according to the release.