History of the Conway Prairie. All of Arkansas was part of the Louisiana Purchase and the US government soon began a systematic survey of these new lands. In 1819 and again in 1859 survey teams moved through central Arkansas and noted the presence of a 2,500 acre prairie centered in what would eventually become downtown Conway and the surrounding old downtown homes. The 18 acres of prairie and woodland preserved in the Jewel Moore Nature Reserve (JMNR) on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas is the largest remnant of the original Conway Prairie remaining undeveloped. Many of the native species found in the JMNR were once common throughout the Conway area. The University of Central Arkansas was on the edge of the original Conway Prairie, and in the early days of UCA the area that is now the JMNR  was used to pasture livestock. In 1977 Biology Professor, Dr.  Jewel Moore began using the area as an outdoor classroom and Professors Don Culwell and Robert Wright published a series of scientific articles identifying the area as remnant prairie.
Welcome to JMNR!


Future of the Conway Prairie. The University of Central Arkansas recognizes the important benefits the JMNR provides for our campus community and the surrounding community. To preserve the history of the Conway Prairie and the unique species that find a home there, a 4.1 ha (10.1) area was designated as the Jewel Moore Nature Reserve by the UCA Board of Trustees in 1980. In 2004, UCA president Lu Hardin expanded the JMNR to include more area to the south. In 2010, UCA president Alan Meadors proposed an 18 acre area be granted a permanent conservation easement. The Board of Trustees heard a proposal to include the JMNR in the state’s Natural Heritage program as a Natural Area. The proposal was tabled and will be heard again in late 2015. As managers of the JMNR, we seek to ensure that this last remnant of the Conway Prairie remains available to both our campus community and the wider Conway community.

Jan. 2015 Prescribed Burn


Benefits of the Jewel Moore Nature Reserve. The 18 acres of the JMNR hold more species of plants than any other green space or park in Conway–over 235 species have been identified there. The diversity of native prairie wildflowers supports a diverse community of insect pollinators. This natural community within the city of Conway benefits citizens as well as our local ecosystems. It is easy to observe the many visitors to the JMNR on a nice day who come to exercise in a natural and peaceful setting. It is more difficult to recognize the important ecosystem functions of the JMNR. The original Conway Prairie acted as a sponge for rainfall, holding water in the abundant plants and releasing much of it back into the atmosphere. Now the original prairie has been drained and the water runs off our homes and streets rapidly causing flooding around Lake Conway. The natural vegetation at the JMNR is an opportunity to slow down the runoff from our city streets and buildings, and return it to the atmosphere through the growth of the plants living there.

(Agraulis vanillae)