May 12, 2023
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK — William C. “Bill” Bridgforth, 82, of Pine Bluff, a former Arkansas Game and Fish Commissioner, died Thursday, May 11, at his home.
Bridgforth was a senior partner in the law firm Ramsay, Bridgforth, Robinson and Raley, and represented legal needs of farmers and ranchers throughout the U.S. He was appointed to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission by Gov. Jim Guy Tucker in July 1994 and served until his term expired in July 2001.
During his tenure as a Commissioner, Bridgforth was influential in the passage of Amendment 75, which provided valuable funding for the AGFC and has enabled it to add wildlife officers in every county, establish many new educational programs to recruit new hunters and anglers, and construct nine nature centers throughout the state. He also was influential in the building of the AGFC’s first nature center, the Gov. Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center, in his hometown.
A stalwart advocate of public land hunting, Bridgforth worked to establish new regulations to prevent overcrowding on popular waterfowl hunting areas, establishing a 15-shell limit on George H. Dunklin Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area and other well-known WMAs. He also helped enact a regulation eliminating waterfowl hunting guides on public land in Arkansas to relieve some of the crowded conditions on WMAs during duck season.
The “three-point rule” in Arkansas’s deer hunting also was enacted during Bridgforth’s tenure, as well as the transition from antlerless deer permits to antlerless deer being allowed in a hunter’s annual bag limit without additional fees.
For his passionate service to the sportsmen and women of Arkansas, the Commission dedicated the Bill Bridgforth Long Pond Access at Bayou Meto to him July 6, 2005.
Outside of his tenure with the AGFC, Bridgforth worked with agriculture committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in an effort to ensure the nation’s farm programs remain beneficial to production agriculture. He received the C.E. Ransick Award for extraordinary service from the Arkansas Bar Foundation in 2005, was inducted into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame by the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation in 2012 and was the 1993 recipient of the Harvey W. McGeorge Award for Distinguished Service to Agriculture in Arkansas.
A native of Forrest City, Bridgforth attended Washington and Lee University in Virginia and the University of Arkansas, where he received degrees in business administration and in law. He was married to the former Julie Schroeder and had three sons, Shane, David and Patrick Bridgforth.
Couple in front of sign
Bill and Julie Bridgforth at the 2005 dedication of the Bill Bridgforth Long Pond Access at Bayou Meto.
Two men in front of sign
Bill Bridgforth (right) served with many fellow Arkansas conservationists and Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame members, such as the late Forrest L. Wood.