Arkansas Valley Prairie and Woodland

These prairies and woodlands of the Arkansas Valley are found in this distinctive region of Arkansas and adjacent Oklahoma, bounded by the Boston Mountains and the Ouachita Mountains. This was formerly the common vegetation in this area but is now very rare. The prairies are typically dominated by grasses, including big bluestem, yellow Indiangrass, switchgrass, and little bluestem. Only a few small and isolated examples of this system remain. The valley is characterized by broad, level to gently rolling uplands derived from shales and is less rugged and more eroded by the Arkansas River than the nearby mountains. The valley receives 2-6 inches less rainfall in a year than the surrounding regions due to a rainshadow. The shale-derived soils associated with the prairies are thin and droughty. The combined effect of droughty soils, reduced precipitation, and prevailing level topography create conditions highly conducive to the ignition and spread of wildland fires. For more information, see NatureServe Explorer.

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