LITTLE ROCK – One of Arkansas Game and Fish Commission chairman Fred Brown’s chief platforms, he said recently, is to lead the restoration of the northern bobwhite in Arkansas. Brown and several other commissioners were in attendance as the AGFC held a two-day “Quail 101” seminar in Mayflower with its wildlife biologists, wildlife management area managers and others. Experts from nearby states that have re-established quail habitat in recent years spoke to the gathering about their successes.
“I’m determined to make quail one of my major focuses in my year as chairman,” said Brown, of Corning, who is in his seventh and last year on the Commission. Ken Reeves, another commissioner on hand last week, said to Brown’s comment, “I’ll still have three years after Fred’s term is up and it will also be a major area of my focus.”
Quail were once abundant throughout the state, but changes in agricultural practices and growth of urban areas changed the bird’s habitat to where they are rarely seen. The Commission wants to change that, and there is federal money at its disposal to bring about habitat changes.
In coming days, the AGFC will host public meetings with interested landowners about its Working Lands for Wildlife program, which will provide $400,000 total to landowners who have property in close proximity to AGFC’s WMAs and who will dedicate part of their holdings to quail habitat and restoration. Ted Zawislak, an AGFC wildlife biologist and Statewide Private Lands Supervisor in the AGFC’s Private Lands Section, said the program will help fund quail habitat restoration in 20 Arkansas counties: Ashley, Baxter, Benton, Carroll, Drew, Faulkner, Fulton, Hempstead, Logan, Marion, Nevada, Newton, Pulaski, Randolph, Searcy, Sebastian, Sharp, St. Francis, Stone and Yell. The money is part of a nationwide program under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The meetings with the AGFC private lands biologists will be held over the next two weeks in Bentonville, Cave City, Conway, Hamburg, Hope, Paris and Yellville. The public is invited to hear about the Working Lands for Wildlife program and to enjoy a free dinner in the process, Zawislak said. Those interested in attending are asked to reserve a spot by calling the phone number listed below with the meeting site they wish to attend.
The meeting schedule and locations:
Conway: Tuesday, Jan. 17, 6-8 p.m., Antioch Baptist Church Annex Building, 110 S. Amity Road. Call 501-327-6509, ext. 3, to RSVP.
Yellville: Tuesday, Jan. 17, 6-8 p.m., Fred Berry Conservation Education Center, 851 Conservation Lane. Call 870-425-3527 ext. 3 to RSVP.
Hope: Thursday, Jan. 19, 6-8 p.m., University of Arkansas Southwest Research and Extension Center, 362 Highway 174 North. Call 870-777-8800 ext. 3 to RSVP.
Hamburg: Tuesday, Jan. 24, 6-8 p.m., First Baptist Church, 203 E. Parker St. Call 870-853-9881 ext. 3 to RSVP.
Paris: Tuesday, Jan. 24, 6-8 p.m., First National Bank of Paris Community Center, 25 E. Main St. Call 479-963-2612 ext. 3 to RSVP.
Bentonville: Thursday, Jan. 26, 6-8 p.m., North West Arkansas Community College, 1 College Drive. Call 479-273-2622 ext. 3 to RSVP.
Cave City: Thursday, Jan. 26, 6-8 p.m., Cave City High School, Cave City Safe Room, 620 N. Main St. Call 870-994-7335 ext. 3 to RSVP.