Sept. 9, 2020
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
PARON — Many people have rediscovered the outdoors since COVID-19 arrived and forced most organized sports and gatherings to shut down. Record sales of fishing and camping equipment and crowded boat ramps and trailheads all speak to the renewed interest Arkansans have in our natural world. One conservation-minded group has gone the extra distance to help protect these resources amid the increased usage.
According to Ryan Pettigrew, a board member of the Arkansas Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, the group has been busy in the last few months helping mitigate the waste left behind from increased traffic.
“Our public land has had a busy spring and summer,” Pettigrew said. “Unfortunately, that means an increase in trash around access areas. The Arkansas chapter of BHA is working in conjunction with AGFC to conduct cleanup events on WMAs as part of the organization’s Public Lands Packout campaign.”
Pettigrew said cleanups have already been conducted at Trusten Holder, Petit Jean, and Wedington WMAs, and at Polk Bayou Park near Batesville. Another cleanup is planned for Winona WMA, Sept. 19 to help clean up this portion of the Ouachita National Forest before hunting seasons and cooler weather bring additional visitors to the mountains.
“BHA volunteers, including members, friends and children of all ages, have removed over 68 bags of trash and large waste items including tires and mattresses,” Pettigrew said. “AGFC staff have been instrumental by helping coordinate use of dumpsters, providing information about illegal dumping locations, and joining in some of the cleanups.”
Anyone interested in joining the group for the Winona WMA cleanup can find details at www.backcountryhunters.org/lake_winona_wma_cleanup. For more information about BHA’s mission and stewardship projects, visit www.backcountryhunters.org.