March 28, 2018
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
MOUNTAIN HOME – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approved the purchase of a new parcel of land near Mountain Home during its March 23 meeting, but unlike other purchases that sometimes cover many square miles, this purchase only included 14 acres. But those 14 acres are just as important to the AGFC’s mission as any wildlife management area, as they will be the location for a future field office to serve the Mountain Home area.
The property is 3 miles south of Mountain Home on U.S. Highway 62 in Baxter County. It was appraised at $280,000 and has been approved for a purchase price of $260,000 plus closing costs.
The AGFC currently has a field office within the city limits of Mountain Home, but has overgrown that building and needs to look for a new home.
“We have 14 employees reporting to that office, 11 of which serve in some sort of fisheries capacity,” said Ben Batten, assistant chief of fisheries for the AGFC. “The trout program, trout habitat program and regional district fisheries biologists all are housed in that 5th Street office.”
With those major programs comes major equipment. The trout program has multiple boats and rafts to handle its work throughout the state, the regional fisheries district has large barges for habitat projects, shocking boats and netting boats, and the trout habitat program requires many pieces of large equipment to manage boulders and other habitat components as well as the trucks needed to transport them.
“We’ve not only filled our current office to capacity, but have to store some of the equipment offsite because we just don’t have the room any longer,” Batten said.
Although the purchase has been approved, it may be a few years before actual work begins on a new field office. Current projects, including the new Northwest Arkansas Nature Center, large land purchases and other commitments need to be addressed before actual construction plans take shape.
“This is an excellent piece of property in the direction Mountain Home appears to be growing toward, and we are excited about its future use,” Batten said. “We just need to make sure some of the big projects the AGFC is undertaking are complete before we begin another.”