The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has added nearly 6,000 acres to its wildlife management system thanks to federal money through the Pittman-Robertson Act and partnerships with other agencies and private landowners.
Some of the acquisitions include wooded land good for hunting deer or small game. Other acreage will add to waterfowl hunting opportunities later this year, said Matt Warriner, assistant chief in the Game and Fish wildlife management division.
The Pittman-Robertson Act, also known as the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, provides millions of dollars to wildlife agencies for habitat restoration and managing wildlife through excise taxes placed on the purchase of firearms, ammunition and archery equipment.
Warriner noted these additions, which total 5,877 acres, to the state's wildlife management areas in 2018:
•975 acres at Cypress Bayou wildlife management area, White County.
•511 acres at Beryl Anthony Lower Ouachita wildlife management area, Union County.
•311 acres at Gene Rush wildlife management area, Newton County.
• 3,400 acres at Big Timber wildlife management area, White County, through a multiyear lease agreement;
• 680 acres to four wildlife management areas through mutual operating agreement with Arkansas Department of Transportation for mitigation lands. They include 161 acres at Sulphur River wildlife management area, Miller County; 282 acres at St. Francis Sunken Lands wildlife management area, Poinsett County: 158 acres at Dardanelle wildlife management area, Johnson County and 85 acres at Village Creek wildlife management area in Jackson County.
Warriner added that Game and Fish has agreed to buy an additional 3,000-acre area near the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge in south Arkansas, but the paperwork will not be signed to finalize the deal until late this year or in 2019.
"We're adding land for public hunting opportunities and for other recreational activities such as bird-watching, hiking and camping," Warriner said. "All of the acquisitions are funded by the Wildlife Restoration Program, so it's a user-pay/public-benefit program. The users, through their purchase of firearms, ammunition and archery equipment, are funding those acquisitions."
The 3,400 acres leased at Big Timber did not receive federal tax dollars; rather, they have been added to the commission's leased-land system through an agreement with the land's owner, the Olds Foundation. Being part of the leased-land system requires users purchase a $40 permit for hunting, camping, fishing or trapping. Birding or hiking does not require the permit, Warriner said.
The acquisition of Cypress Bayou in White County, meanwhile, has allowed the commission to address requests from central Arkansas waterfowl hunters, Warriner said.
The acquisition and addition to Gene Rush WMA in north Arkansas gives more opportunity for upland-style hunting, Warriner said.
Sports on 11/06/2018