Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Game and Fish Commissioners watched a special video at their regularly scheduled meeting today from Gov. Asa Hutchinson, recognizing Sept. 26 as National Hunting and Fishing Day in Arkansas and proclaiming the week leading up to it as Arkansas Hunting and Fishing Week.
Now in its 49th year, NHF Day is the largest, most effective grassroots movement ever undertaken to promote outdoor sports and conservation. Celebrated on the fourth Saturday of September, the federally recognized holiday brings together sportsmen and women from across America to celebrate the rich tradition of hunting, sport shooting and fishing through organized local, state and national events aimed at introducing new audiences to the outdoors.
In the video Hutchinson said, “Arkansans’ love of fishing was evident this year when we saw a significant increase in the number of people who went fishing during the COVID-19 pandemic. … With National Hunting and Fishing Day, we are raising awareness of the importance of our natural resources and the need to conserve them.”
Commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission also unanimously approved $735,444.68 to be transferred to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Rural Services. This represents all fine money collected from wildlife violations in Fiscal Year 2020 and will be given to educators to increase conservation education in Arkansas.
The Division of Rural Services distributes the fine money through grants for which any teacher, principal or other educator may apply. These grants can enhance learning opportunities for youth, especially in some of the rural areas of Arkansas, where education dollars are at a premium. Grants help promote AGFC programs such as Archery in the Schools, Project WILD and the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program. Many educators also use the grants to fund expenses for conservation-oriented field trips, such as those taken to AGFC nature centers and hatcheries.
All fine money collected in a county goes back to these education grants for that county. A list of available funds and a downloadable application are available at the Division of Rural Services website, https://www.arkansasedc.com/Rural-Services/division/grants/wildlife-education-grant.
In other business, the Commission:
- Approved an increase in the 2021 Fisheries Division budget of $635,759 for research and management concerning invasive Asian carp in Arkansas.
- Approved the sale of a surplus boat, motor and trailer to the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission;
- Authorized the following two projects, which are eligible for Marine Fuel Tax funding:
- Gar Creek Access – The City of Ozark is requesting support to construct a courtesy dock at the Gar Creek Access Area on the Ozark Pool of the Arkansas River. The total cost of the project is $19,835.00 with the city requesting $7,935 in assistance.
- Howard County Gilham Lake Road – This project will repair 9.5 miles of road, culverts and riprap. The total project is $287,151.02 with $18,901.44 in in-kind coming from the county.
- Heard an update from Deke Whitbeck from the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation about the successful completion of the 2020 online silent auction which replaced the canceled Arkansas Outdoors Hall of Fame Banquet;
- Heard from guest speaker Col. Bill Bryant Director of Arkansas State Police with his thanks to AGFC wildlife officers for their assistance and professionalism during protests in June;
- Heard an update on bat conservation from Blake Sasse, AGFC Nongame Mammal Program coordinator;
- Recognized Blake Sasse as the 2020 AGFC Wildlife Biologist of the Year;
- Recognized Paul Dunham as the 2020 AGFC Wildlife Technician of the Year;
- Recognized Wildlife Management Region 3 (southeastern Arkansas) with the 2020 “No Pig Left Behind” award for removing more than 1,700 feral hogs in their district so far this year.
- Authorized the removal of outdated and obsolete inventory with an original cost of $32,959 and a current net book value of $3,105.
A video of the meeting is available on the AGFC’s YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSBtbn5qBGw&feature=youtu.be.