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Commission approves trails and recreation facilities grant programs

LITTLE ROCK – At today’s monthly meeting of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, commissioners approved up to $1 million for the Wildlife Observation Trails Pilot Program and up to $500,000 for the Wildlife Recreation Facilities Pilot Program. The trails program grants were recommended by a committee of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. The recreation facilities were recommended by the Arkansas Department of Rural Services.

The AGFC director is now authorized to enter into an agreement with the 24 individual recipients for various projects aimed at developing interest in the state’s natural resources. The projects include 13 trail projects and 11 wildlife facility projects.

Both programs are a result of Act 686 and Act 687 from the 2009 Arkansas General Assembly.

Early-season migratory game-bird season proposals also were presented to the commission. The season selections must be reported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by Aug. 1. Approval for the seasons will take place in July. Changes from last season are minor.

Mourning Dove and Eurasian Collared Dove
Sept. 3-Oct. 18 and Dec. 10-Jan. 2 or Sept. 3-Oct. 30 and Dec. 26-Jan. 6

Teal Season
Sept. 10-25

Early Canada Goose Statewide Season
Sept. 1-15

Northwest Canada Goose Zone Season
Sept. 24-Oct. 3

In other business, the Commission:

*Honored outgoing chairman Craig Campbell by renaming Lake Conway. The lake will now be known as Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir. Campbell’s term ends June 30.

*Heard a presentation about the 2011 spring turkey harvest by AGFC Assistant Wildlife Chief Brad Miller. Miller told the Commission that 6,744 turkeys were checked during the season. The harvest was down from 10,111 turkeys checked during the 2010 season. Fulton County led the state with 307 birds harvested. During the two-day special youth turkey hunt, 928 turkeys were harvested, up from 850 turkeys in 2010.

*Approved a new code authorizing the Director of the AGFC to order the closure of public access to any AGFC-owned or controlled property during emergency situations. This also includes closure of hunting, fishing or trapping in any zones affected by the emergency.

*As a result of passage by voters of Amendment 88 last November, the Commission voted to amend current codes to make certain that adequate due process is afforded to individuals when the AGFC begins revocation or suspension of hunting, fishing or trapping rights.

*A proposal was made to adjust the deer season dates for Bayou Meto, Dave Donaldson Black River, Ed Gordon Point Remove, Henry Gray Hurricane Lake, Mike Freeze Wattensaw, Rex Hancock Black Swamp, Sheffield Nelson Dagmar, Shirey Bay Rainey Brake, St. Francis Sunken Lands and Trusten Holder WMAs during the month of January. Seasons will be temporarily closed from Jan. 2-Jan. 27 to conduct intensive camera surveys in order to collect data for fawn recruitment, buck to doe ratios and population densities.

*Approved the AGFC budget for fiscal year 2011-12, totaling $72,372,480.

*Elected George Dunklin of Stuttgart chairman of the Commission to replace Craig Campbell. Ron Pierce of Mountain Home was elected vice chairman.