Arkansas GFC Tours Elk Country During Monthly Meeting

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In the heart of elk country, Commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission toured several projects designed to benefit not only Arkansas’s elk herd, but numerous species of wildlife. The Commission was in Harrison this week for its monthly meeting.

The Commission observed elk in Newton County’s Boxley Valley and habitat projects in the recently-purchased parcel in Richland Valley. Numerous bull elk put on a show for commissioners by bugling and herding cows in the picturesque Buffalo River country of north Arkansas.

Biologists with the agency told the commissioners about various habitat enhancement projects such as prescribed fire and restoration of native grasses. Biologists emphasized that the habitat improvements attract elk to public property, but also benefit species such as turkey, black bears, dove, songbirds and white-tailed deer.

In other business, the Commission:

*Heard a presentation on repairs to Lower White Oak Lake. The 50-year-old lake is a popular destination for many anglers and is managed as a trophy Florida largemouth bass fishery. Earlier this year, the lower gate on the water control structure began leaking significantly. Currently the lake is 4.5 feet below normal levels due to the leak and evaporation. Replacement of the gate is estimated at $205,500.

*Approved a budget increase of $3 million to be used in restoration of damages to AGFC facilities statewide from the spring 2011 tornadoes and floods. The Federal Emergency Management Administration will reimburse 75 percent of the amount to the AGFC. The remaining 25 percent will come from the State of Arkansas emergency funds and insurance proceeds.

*Approved a $26,000 grant to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry. The goal of the AHFH is to help feed hungry Arkansans by hunters donating harvested deer to the organization. The deer is then processed and delivered to the many feeding agencies and organizations across the state. Last year the organization provided 70,000 pounds of venison to people in need.

*Approved up to $1 million to help fund development of a revised state water plan. Money for the plan will come from gas lease revenue. The plan will be developed by the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission with input from the AGFC.

*Approved an amendment to the Memorandum of Agreement between the AGFC and Arkansas Department of Rural Services for the Wildlife Recreation Facilities Pilot Program. The amendment includes an additional $500,000 for the program during the 2011-12 fiscal year.

*Approved an amendment to the Memorandum of Agreement with Arkansas Parks and Tourism Department and Arkansas Department of Rural Services for the Wildlife Trails and Recreational Facilities Grants. Up to an additional $1 million will be available for the project.

*In partnership with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the AGFC was recently awarded a$1,509,012 Recovery Land Acquisition Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The grant will benefit three federally-endangered species by providing funds to purchase a 1,688-acre tract of habitat along the bank of the lower Saline River in Ashley County.

*Approved a budget increase of $45,000 to help fund sampling requirements and laboratory fees related to chronic wasting disease in the state’s deer and elk populations. Money will come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

*Approved a budget increase of $200,489 to add new projects within the Big Woods of Arkansas Habitat Conservation Planning Grant. The projects will benefit six federally-listed endangered species including the ivory-billed woodpecker, red-cockaded woodpecker, interior least tern and the fat pocketbook, pink mucket and scaleshell mussels.

*Approved a budget increase of $26,618 to benefit federally-listed threatened and endangered species. The money will be used to perform pathogen testing in the Ozark hellbender and for projects related to bats that are threatened by white-nose syndrome.

Comments

Retired2hunt's picture

  When I first read this I

 

When I first read this I said to myself - Arkansas and elk herds?  I had no idea that Arkansas had any real population of elk.  I am now educated on the fact!

It is great to have those in charge of the wildlife and conservation to actually be out in the fields and woods to see what they need to accomplish.

The highlight I like within what the commision completed was the grant of money towards the feed the hungry program.  70,000 pounds of donated meat to those in need definitely makes a difference out there.  The other program associated with that is FHFH.org.  They have a chapter in Little Rock and have provided 1.5 million meals to the needy to date.  The state has a great deal of processors that are involved as this definitely assists in donating a couple of pounds of your animal or the whole thing.

Great article and a great deal outlined that has been approved and in the works for Arkansas hunters.

 

Ca_Vermonster's picture

I totally agree Numb  If you

I totally agree Numb  If you would get more of the commissions out there, and see what is happening with their own eyes, you are going to get better results.  It looks like it worked too.  They are going to increase funding, along with helping some other programs.

Glad to see the elk herd in Arkansas off and running.  The increased budget will help more, as well as the couple of grants they got to purchase land.  I also like the grant to the Hunters Feeding the Hungry.  That is a great charity that is very popular in alot of the southern states, and has spread out from there.  It's good to see the needy getting a quality nutritional meal, at little to no cost from the government.  Hunters taking care of each other, and the community.  Great to see!

numbnutz's picture

It's always nice to see Game

It's always nice to see Game commisioners out actually seeing what the field looks like. It's also nice when they approve the funding needed to better habitat for the animals. I really think state officails are finally starting to see the importance of consevation and restoring habitat by removing invassive plants and animal for that matter. Invassive plant and animals will not only kill or chase off native wildlife it will ruin habitat forever. It's very expensive to remove non native  plants but it needs to be done. Good for the game commision for doing what they need to do for wildlife.