SPRINGDALE – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission authorized $760,000 to be allocated to five engineering projects vital for fish and wildlife conservation during today’s meeting. The meeting took place at the newly constructed J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center, preceding a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the location.
The following projects received budget increases:
- $60,000 for engineering design of a moist-soil unit on a recent AGFC property acquisition at Frog Bayou WMA in Crawford County.
- $200,000 for a topographical engineering survey of greentree reservoir levees and structures for the first phase of a multi-phase project at George H. Dunklin Jr. Bayou Meto WMA in Arkansas County.
- $60,000 for engineering work to streamline the cleanout of a 6-mile ditch downstream of Lake Charles which will enhance delivery of water to the greentree reservoir on Shirey Bay Rainey Brake WMA in Lawrence County.
- $215,000 for engineering and design of an enhanced dam and spillway structure at Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir in Faulkner County.
- $225,000 for engineering and design for the renovation of the Joe Hogan Hatchery spawning building in Lonoke to enhance fish production.
AGFC Deputy Director Chris Racey explained that these increases are only the first steps in all of these projects, which are vital to conservation needs in the state.
“Things like roads and levees and dams and other infrastructure are critical in helping us achieve the mission here at the agency across our state,” Racey said.
Racey spoke also about the success of recently completed projects, such as White Oak Lake in Ouachita County, Lake Poinsett in Poinsett County and the renovation of water delivery structures on Ed Gordon Point Remove Wildlife Management Area in Morrilton.
“We know that our work is not done, and the list is long,” Racey said. “We have significant costs, scope and time related to what it’s actually going to take to achieve the infrastructure goals within our state, and we know we’re going to have to use a sustained effort.”
The Commission also approved the addition of 889 species of reptiles and amphibians to the unrestricted list and 49 species of reptiles and amphibians to the permitted list in the AGFC’s captive wildlife code. The lists are available at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jFh9oLlHpqLhImiPzTnFNCWC3v1LynJ5/view?usp=sharing and https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jIBlo8t0HiHWKgao3PJNHgoK-jc01cA8/view?usp=sharing.
These updates were first read at the Commission’s Oct. 15 meeting and have been available for public comment at the AGFC’s website for longer than the 30-day requirement.
In other business, the Commission:
- Unveiled the artwork for the 2020 Conservation License Plate, a monarch butterfly crafted by AGFC artist Greta James.
- Approved the purchase of interactive archery and laser shot firearms hunting simulators at the newly constructed Ozark Highlands Nature Center for a total of $52,000.
- Authorized Director Fitts to convey a permanent right-of-way easement along a portion of Arkansas Highway 89 to the Arkansas Department of Transportation for the expansion of that highway near its intersection with Interstate 40.
- Authorized changes to the agency’s internal budget policy to better manage workflow while accounting for unforeseen issues.
- Authorized changes to the agency’s human resources policy to adopt improved employee evaluation and compensation processes and software.
- Authorized legal representation for two AGFC wildlife officers who were named in a civil lawsuit.
- Heard from Michael Wingo and Jessie Bishop, representing the Trout Unlimited in presenting the TU Chapter 514 Ray Smith Award to AGFC Stream Habitat Supervisor Tim Burnley for his work on the recent renovation of Beaver Lake Dam Tailwater.
- Heard from William Brockway and Jim Dodd, both of Texas, voicing their concerns over Lifetime Permit holders who move out of state not being allowed resident status in regard to waterfowl hunting days on wildlife management areas.
- Authorized the use of an outside vendor to work with AGFC staff in the search for a new director upon Fitt’s previously announced retirement at the end of Fiscal Year 2020.
A video of the meeting is available at https://www.youtube.com/user/ArkansasGameandFish.