AGFC dragging out the trash at Keeland Lake
Jan. 28, 2020
Assistant Chief of Communications
OLA — More than a dozen men from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Yell County Road Department have been hard at work picking up the pieces from decades of trash left at Keeland Lake in Yell County.
The road and access going into the small lake on the edge of Petit Jean Wildlife Management Area are kept clean by a private contractor, but over the decades many people have found it necessary to dump televisions, tires and other trash in the woods between the road and the shore. Even though the area is less than 4 miles from a landfill, people have continued to trash the site that was created for outdoor recreation.
The trash originally made local news in Little Rock in June, but because of floods and other priorities, staff had to wait until winter before they could act. Additionally, the large amount of undergrowth made removal of some materials impossible without heavy equipment.
“Gathering up the resources and manpower to conduct a cleanup like this can take some time to make sure it’s done right,” said Kevin Lynch, Wildlife Management Supervisor for the AGFC in Fort Smith.
Lynch was one of many biologists who took time from conducting bear den research, retrieving samples of harvested deer for biological research and other wildlife management duties to clean up the trash left by decades of dumping.
People dumping trash is a constant fight for many wildlife management area and lake managers at the AGFC. While most cases of dumping only involve a few small items, the Keeland Lake site is an extreme example of how bad it can get.
“We have had to contract out with one excavator, we have two AGFC excavators to help with the task, and Yell County provided two dump trucks and a backhoe,” Lynch said. “Even with all that manpower and equipment, this will be a two-day job or larger just to get the big stuff out.”
Lynch says 10 dump truck loads of trash were hauled to the landfill today and two dump truck loads of tires were taken to the Yell County Transfer station.
“Even with the help from Yell County taking those tires, we had to spend more than $3,000 just in landfill costs from today’s operation,” Lynch said. “That’s money that could have been spent on wildlife management efforts on the WMA.”
In addition to the cleanup, the AGFC will install hidden surveillance cameras and signs to help deter future trash dumping and catch those who still choose to violate the law.
“This area has been used for a dumping ground for so long, that we hope people see these signs and effort and get rid of their trash the right way,” Lynch said. “Hopefully word will spread about the surveillance equipment and help prevent this from happening again in the future.”
Lynch says staff plan to continue working on the area and are partnering with the Yell County Wildlife Federation to conduct more cleanups.
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