A major capital campaign for an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission nature center was kicked off today with a huge donation from one of Northwest Arkansas’ well-known families.
Johnelle Hunt and her family at a gathering at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale agreed to provide $5 million to the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation for the planned J.B. Hunt Family Northwest Arkansas Nature Center. The foundation has $1 million for the project and has a goal of raising additional funds for the $15 million project over the next eight to 12 months, said Chuck Dicus, the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation president.
J.B. and Johnelle Hunt in 1961 founded J.B. Hunt Transport Services, a Fortune 500 transportation and logistics company that’s based in the Northwest Arkansas city of Lowell.
J.B. Hunt, who died in 2006, was a founding member of the Northwest Arkansas Council and the company has remained involved with the organization since it was founded in 1990.
The Springdale Water and Sewer Commission donated the 60 acres for the new nature center. The property is east of Interstate 49 and south of Wagon Wheel Road. It’s visible from the interstate, but it’ll be accessible from 40th Street.
Dicus said the new nature center will be similar in style and design to the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center in Fort Smith.
A conceptual site plan for the Northwest Arkansas nature center shows it having an educational building, a regional office building for Arkansas Game and Fish Commission personnel, an archery range, a prairie/quail outdoor classroom area, a pavilion, a boardwalk along the edge of Spring Creek, wildlife habitat areas, wildlife observation trails, and a stream and aquatic study area.