May 16, 2018
MCGEHEE - Five Arkansas landowners and two Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists earned special recognition for their outstanding conservation efforts at the Wildlife Habitat Restoration and Private Lands conference held May 8-9 at the Delta Resort in McGehee.
Kenneth and Grady Harvell of Izard County received the Arkansas Land Stewardship Award for their impressive work on their property, which included the reintroduction of more than 30 acres of native grasses and numerous prescribed burns to promote grassland habitat. Their work not only earned them this award, but also has fostered an impressive response with northern bobwhite on the property as well as other species dependent upon open habitat.
AGFC Private Lands Program Coordinator Ted Zawislak said, “Both Harvell brothers have done an outstanding job managing their property for quail. Kenneth is one of those rare landowners that understands the constant disturbance it takes to create and maintain good quail habitat.”
Zawislak said he knows Kenneth Harvell’s passion well.
“He sends me a new text message every time he sees a covey or two on the property,” Zawislak said.
Joel and Sloan Hampton received their Arkansas Land Stewardship Award for their work near Lodges Corner in Arkansas County. Their work toward quail habitat in a county dominated by management for other species has proven there’s room for all wildlife conservation across much of the state. Alex Hilburn of Quail Forever said, “Working with the Hampton brothers has been a tremendous experience. Since meeting them in October, their willingness and excitement to carry out management activities has been amazing.”
David Baker, owner of Bakers Acres, received the third Arkansas Land Stewardship Award for the evening for his work toward the protection of endangered species on his land in Conway County.
AGFC Private Lands Biologist Clint Johnson said, “Mr. Baker and his family have been devoted to good stewardship of the land handed down to them from his father. They have worked to restore it to a natural condition and have even welcomed biologists from the AGFC, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to survey for rare species on their property, something few landowners get excited about. They have gone out of their way to see that their property is used for the greater good of the community.”
Bubba Groves, an AGFC private lands biologist who has worked in that capacity for the agency during the last eight years, received the Outstanding Arkansas Professional Private Lands Stewardship Award. Groves has been instrumental in combining many different programs offered through various partner agencies to create excellent wildlife habitat. His promotion of the Wetlands Reserve Program in addition to the AGFC’s Deer Management Assistance Program have led to thousands of acres of habitat restoration and improvements for deer, ducks and many other species throughout the Delta.
Hugh Lumpkin, a private lands biologist at the AGFC’s Beaver Lake Regional Office received the Early Career Private Lands Stewardship Award, a new award given to professionals with no more than five years of experience in private lands management who are already making an impact on Arkansas’s wildlife habitat.
“Hugh came to us a little over a year ago, but before that he spent two years as working as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partners biologist,” Zawislak said. “With an early career in the Marines and as a high-school football coach, hard work is nothing new to Lumpkin. His hard work has already been very instrumental in helping us achieve even more wildlife habitat on the ground in northwest Arkansas.”
Each award was given by the Arkansas Private Lands Partnership, a multi-agency committee representing the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arkansas Forestry Commission, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, and the Arkansas Forest Resources Center.