LITTLE ROCK – Commissioners unanimously voted to enter a new partnership with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department to include 850 acres of the AHTD’s Glaise Creek Mitigation Bank into Departee Creek WMA in White County at today’s scheduled meeting of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
The land was purchased by the AHTD as part of their requirement under the Clean Water Act to mitigate any wetland disturbances.
“Basically, any time a government agency, corporation or nonprofit agency does an activity that impacts the aquatic resources in one section of a watershed, their compliance with the Clean Water Act requires them to preserve, enhance or protect an equal amount of land in another portion of that same watershed,” said Jennifer Sheehan, chief of Federal Regulatory Program with the AGFC. “That left the highway department with a lot of wetlands. These lands belong to the people of Arkansas, so we got together to figure out a way to put them into use.”
Josh Seagraves, Section Head of Special Studies for AHTD’s Environmental Division, says the Glaise Creek property is a trial run for the partnership, but he hopes to see many more in the future.
“Glaise Creek Mitigation Bank is one of our largest mitigation properties, but there are many others throughout the state close to WMAs which could fit this course of action as well,” Seagraves said. “Every year, the AHTD gets calls from hunters who want to be able to hunt some of these properties, but we are not in a position to manage that sort of use. This partnership will let people use these lands that belong to the state.”
Commission Chairman Fred Brown said he is always happy to enter into partnerships opening up more state-owned land to public access, and is excited to see how the partnership will progress in the future.
“These are those partnerships that just make good sense and I’m really happy to see it open up close to 1,000 acres of wetlands in northeast Arkansas,” Brown said. “I can’t wait to see how much more opportunity we can secure for hunters and anglers and everybody else through this program.”
In other business, the Commission:
- Approved the removal of equipment and inventory with an original value of $502,079.99 and a current net book value of $2,448.95.
- Approved the exchange of 40 acres of property on the outer edge of Harold E. Alexander WMA to remove a 40-acre inholding on the property.
- Approved the removal and sale or demolition of an outdated residential structure on Earl Buss Bayou DeView WMA.
- Heard the first official reading to remove all daily creel limits on all species of fish for Lake Poinsett in Poinsett County, effective May 22, 2017.
- Approved the removal of all daily creel limits on all species of fish for Mercer Bayou in Miller County, effective May 1, 2017.
- Heard the first official reading of proposed fishing regulations changes for 2018.
- Heard the first official reading of five new hunting regulations changes for the 2017-18 season.
- Approved a $40,000 grant agreement to Friends of Baker Prairie to construct a pavilion on land owned by the Harrison School District adjacent to Baker Prairie Natural Area for conservation and wildlife education purposes on the Natural Area.