At a recent meeting in Texarkana, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission celebrated investments made by many of its partnerships with other organizations and agencies that make possible conservation of the state’s fish, wildlife, and their habitats. The meeting followed three days touring and working in Southwest Arkansas to see exactly what those conservation efforts have achieved.
One such successful partnership involves the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT). ARDOT has contributed over half a million dollars from taxes collected on boat fuel, enabling the AGFC to approve three new projects at the meeting. These efforts include (1) a new ramp and parking area on the White River in Independence County, (2) improvements to the boat ramp and parking area at Lake Conway in Faulkner County and (3) chipsealing for the road and parking area at the White River in Izard County.
Another AGFC partnership is with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has assisted with the Millwood-Tri Lakes project, providing thousands of acres of public opportunities for hunting and fishing.
“We have everything from trout to giant alligator gar swimming in our waters here in southwest Arkansas,” said Dylan Hann, AGFC fisheries supervisor. “We do a lot of conservation and aquatic habitat projects in this district with the help of the Corps, Arkansas State Parks and other partners here.”
The AGFC also partners with private landowners, from whom it leases 308,000 acres, an area nearly four times the size of Little Rock, to provide hunting and wildlife habitat protection and improvement opportunities in areas otherwise closed off to the public – land portions known as the Commission’s Wildlife Management Areas (WMA). Leased private land accounts for approximately 9% of the WMA system.
The meeting concluded with recognition of the service of ex-officio Commissioner Dr. Steven Beaupre, who has held an advisory role with the AGFC for the last seven years, as a result of his position at the University of Arkansas. Several commissioners spoke up in appreciation of his contributions, professionalism and collegiality.
“Conservation is a conversation that includes talk, and theory and science, but it also includes action,” Beaupre said in his farewell address. “People are going to look back 10, 20, 50 years from now and recognize you all for the heroes you are.”