Almost 90 percent of Arkansas’s land is privately owned. Many landowners and managers who are concerned about the environment and wildlife often forget to consider it in their management activities. Many more don’t know where to start.
Acres for Wildlife is a free environmental action program of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission which targets all wildlife species and gives special emphasis on species of greatest conservation concern. It improves habitat and encourages landowners to consider wildlife needs in conjunction with good farming, livestock production and forestry practices.
The program does not retire cropland or grazing land, nor does it open “posted” land to hunters. This is left entirely to the discretion of the landowner.
Landowners and tenants must meet each of the qualifications listed below for basic enrollment:
- Land enrolled must be at least 1 acre in size. An entire farm or any part of a farm can be enrolled.
- Nearly all farmlands, rangelands and woodlands are eligible.
- Land in cities, towns, parks and recreation areas or public wildlife management areas are not eligible.
- Landowners and other participants must agree that land will be maintained AND/OR management practices will be continued for at least one year on land enrolled. Each year, landowners must re-enroll to stay in the program.
Benefits of the program:
- Free technical assistance from a Private Lands Biologist.
- Signs to place around gates and entry roads to identify the area is being managed for wildlife.
- Seed packets will be distributed only to landowners enrolled in the Native Warm Season Grass/Forb Component of the program (see below).
Native Warm Season Grass/Forb Program
The AGFC has initiated new component to the program which offers specific emphasis on bobwhite quail and other grassland songbirds. Through the program, cooperators may receive packets of native warm season grasses and forbs. Native warm season grasses and forbs are excellent nesting, brood-rearing and escape cover for bobwhite quail and associated grassland birds, but benefit many other species of wildlife, including deer and turkeys. The number of seed packets provided will depend upon the number of acres enrolled by cooperators and annual budgets.
Program Guidelines and Requirements of the NWSG component:
- The application deadline for consideration in the NWSG component is Jan. 31 each year.
- A minimum of 5 contiguous acres is required to participate.
- Must own or have at least a 5-year lease on the property.
- Must have access to planting equipment (tractor, ATV, disc, etc.)
- Can’t use Acres for Wildlife as part of another government program.
- If cattle are present, they must be excluded from the NWSG land. Cattle may be grazed on these acres after 2-4 growing seasons with proper fencing if determined beneficial to improving the habitat for wildlife. However, cattle can only be grazed on these acres according to an approved prescribed grazing plan approved by an AGFC private lands biologist. Any grazing allowed will normally be for very short periods and once per year in most years.
- If cattle are not present, but are acquired after the contract, the landowner must exclude those cattle from their NWSG land and follow the same grazing rules. If cattle are not excluded and landowner or land manager does not follow an approved prescribed grazing plan, the landowner must reimburse the AGFC the cost of the seed.
- This is a competitive program, and applicants will receive seed based on their ranking done by an AGFC private lands biologist.
- Participant agrees to plant within prescribed planting dates in their contract.
- The seed must be planted in the first year and maintained for 5 years to establish and maintain early successional/open land quail habitat.
- If for any reason, the landowner or land manager does not maintain the contracted acres funded by the program for the 5-year contract period, he/she must reimburse AGFC for the seed.
- Participants installing practices that require federal, state, or local permits are responsible for obtaining those permits.
- The participant receiving seed shall hold the state government harmless for either of the following actions by the participant:
- Infringement on the rights of others.
- Failure to comply with applicable laws or regulations.
- All landowners wishing to receive NWSG seed are entitled to technical assistance and/or sign-off on their wildlife habitat plan from an AGFC private lands biologist.
- Any modifications to the wildlife habitat plan that received NWSG Program ranking points should be approved by an AGFC private lands biologist before the modification.
Contact any of the following AGFC offices for additional information regarding Acres for Wildlife and other private lands programs:
- Brinkley – 877-734-4581
- Calico Rock – 877297-4331
- Camden – 877-836-4612
- Fort Smith – 877-478-1043
- Hope – 877-777-5580
- Hot Springs – 877-525-8606
- Jonesboro – 877-972-5438
- Little Rock – 877-470-3650
- Monticello – 877-367-3559
- Russellville – 877-967-7577