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AGFC looking for rice producers to participate in habitat, hunting access program

BY Randy Zellers

ON 05-26-2021


May 26, 2021

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

LITTLE ROCK — There’s still time for Arkansas rice growers to apply to enroll their fields in the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Waterfowl Rice Incentive Conservation Enhancement program and earn as much as $150 per acre without impacting current production on their fields. Applications are available at and will be accepted until June 1.

The program’s main goal is to increase waterfowl habitat on harvested rice fields by forgoing fall tilling to keep waste grain on the surface and flooding the field at the appropriate depth to make it available for migrating waterfowl throughout the wintering period.

“A surprisingly small percentage of rice fields in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley are flooded each year,” Luke Naylor, AGFC waterfowl program coordinator, said. “We also know through recent research that the amount of flooded rice fields on the landscape is a key driver of duck presence and abundance during fall migration and the overwintering period. Even without the permit-based hunts, this program is putting more ducks within reach of Arkansas hunters by guaranteeing waterfowl habitat as part of habitat complexes.”

WRICE fields are clearly marked to prevent confusion.
This is the third year that the program will include additional payments, up to $150 per acre total, for landowners who allow the AGFC to conduct limited, permit-based hunts on weekends of open waterfowl seasons.

To receive full payment for their contracts, landowners must follow post-harvest guidelines to maintain waterfowl habitat and allow wildlife viewing and limited permit-based hunts during waterfowl season on their properties. Rice fields within 10 miles of waterfowl-focused AGFC wildlife management areas and national wildlife refuges are eligible. Landowners with land already enrolled in the Wetland Reserve Easement program also can apply if they are willing to allow public access for hunting and wildlife viewing on their property.

The AGFC’s WRICE program is made possible through a grant from the National Resources Conservation Service’s Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program.

Landowners interested in becoming part of this innovative conservation and hunter access program can visit or contact their local private lands biologist through the website to learn more. See for details.

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