By Randy Zellers – Assistant Chief of Communications, AGFC
LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission authorized AGFC Director Pat Fitts today to sign memorandums of agreement with the Lawrence County Conservation District and Flat Creek Watershed Improvement District to improve water delivery to flood Shirey Bay Rainey Brake Wildlife Management Area in northeast Arkansas.
When complete, the project will increase the flow of water onto 2,306 acres of bottomland hardwood forest, providing wintering waterfowl habitat and duck hunting opportunities faster than current capabilities. When complete, the agreements will enable AGFC contractors to remove sediment and excess vegetation from 6.6 miles of a diversion ditch connecting Lake Charles to the WMA. The AGFC also will be able to increase the size of many culvert crossings along the ditch, further enhancing water transport to the WMA’s greentree reservoirs.
Garrick Dugger, assistant chief of wildlife management, said renovation work on Shirey Bay is still in the planning stage, but these agreements will be vital to securing access for construction work in the future.
Fitts said this was a good step toward some of the problems facing Arkansas’s greentree reservoirs.
“We have to delay flooding on these areas to a time when the trees are dormant, but when that time comes, we need to be able to flood these areas efficiently to be able to provide that habitat and hunting opportunity,” Fitts said. “Improving the flow in this diversion ditch will accomplish that goal.”
The Commission also authorized the use of $500,000 in Marine Fuel Tax funding to perform two access enhancement projects at DeGray Lake:
$250,000 will be used in partnership with Hot Spring County to reconstruct 4.1 miles of Edgewood Road and Caddo Drive leading to the Caddo Valley access.
$250,000 will be used in partnership with Clark County to reconstruct 5.8 miles of Skyline Drive and Brushy Road leading to DeGray access.
A feed of the meeting is available on the AGFC’s YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrbxMWl7Wdk&feature=youtu.be.
In other business, the Commission:
Recognized Terry Thompson and Chris Hinkle from the Arkansas chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, who presented the following two awards to AGFC employees:
Jason Mitchell, AGFC wildlife biologist in the Ouachita National Forest, was honored with the Arkansas NWTF Wildlife Manager of the Year Award.
Sgt. Chris Majors in Calico Rock was honored with the Arkansas NWTF Wildlife Officer of the Year Award.
Heard from Melissa Jones, AGFC hatchery manager at the Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery, with a presentation on the status of the hatchery and plans for repairs.
Heard from Luke Naylor, AGFC waterfowl program coordinator, with a presentation on the WRICE waterfowl habitat/public access program.
Authorized an appropriation increase to the capital construction budget of $35,000 to replace and extend a fence at the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center.
Approved adjustments to the 2020-21 Fiscal Year Operating Funds Center Budget throughout nine divisions with zero net increase to the agency’s overall budget.
Authorized Director Fitts to execute a $22,500 settlement agreement with Fidelity National Insurance Company on a deeded overlap title claim at Sheffield Nelson Dagmar Wildlife Management Area with a neighboring landowner.
Approved the disposal of obsolete inventory with an original value of $50,807 and a current net book value of $6,007. A video of the meeting is available at https://www.youtube.com/user/ArkansasGameandFish.