November 11, 2021 7PM Rails to Trails: Recreational Conservation

Matt McNair, Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism

Matt will focus on the potential conservation benefits of an extensive rails-to-trails system in Arkansas, with rail trails providing not only a space for human recreation, but serving as corridors for wildlife, birds, and pollinators.

Matt McNair is a project officer with the Outdoor Recreation Grants Program (Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism). Along with providing grant assistance and project advice to municipalities and counties in Arkansas, he has served as the Arkansas State Trails Coordinator since 2020. He is a native of Bruno, Arkansas (Marion County), and currently lives in Little Rock, where his wife owns and operates Bella Vita Jewelry. When not serving the citizens of Arkansas in his official capacity, he enjoys gardening, hiking, canoeing, and pretty much anything else to be done in the Arkansas out-of-doors.

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October 14, 2021 7PM Bat Biology, Ecosystem Services, and Conservation

Christy and Mike Slay, The Sustainability Consortium, The Nature Conservancy

Bats have been around for more than 50 million years, and with more than 1,400 species documented, they are the second largest group of mammals across the globe. This presentation will discuss bats broadly, including how they navigate their world, why they are important, how they can be protected, and then discuss bats found in the Natural State. Arkansas has 16 species of bats, and these species use a variety of habitats such as forests and caves. We will highlight some of Arkansas’ forest and cave bats, monitoring techniques used to study these species, and conservation efforts focused on protecting their habitat.

Christy Melhart Slay is a conservation biologist who directs the science activities for The Sustainability Consortium. Christy leads projects with corporations, universities, and environmental organizations to advance sustainable agriculture and spatial tools for visualizing the environmental and social impacts of global supply chains. Most recently she published research on the drivers of global forest loss in the journal Science and forest carbon fluxes in the journal Nature Climate Change. She has a B.S. from Hendrix College and a Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas. She co-leads cave ecology research on the island of Hawaii documenting new species during her vacation time.

Mike Slay is a conservation biologist who directs the cave and karst science and conservation efforts for The Nature Conservancy. He works with numerous partners to conserve and protect karst species and habitats. He has a M.S. from the University of Arkansas. He has helped discover over 15 new species to science and has one named for him, Conicera slayi.

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