Commission adds nearly 500 acres to Jamestown WMA
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously at today’s regularly scheduled meeting to authorize AGFC Director Austin Booth to complete the purchase of more than 493 acres of property to be added to Jamestown Wildlife Management Area in Independence County.
The property addition comes from two separate tracts bordering the WMA’s current boundaries and will connect two outlying parcels of the WMA. This will increase the total size of the WMA to 1,464 acres and will be added to the current management plan of maintaining an open hardwood forest in a region of the state dominated by commercial pine stands.
Randy Brents, assistant chief of the AGFC’s Private Lands Habitat Division, gave an in-depth presentation about the agency’s prescribed fire initiative to manage large blocks of woodlands like Jamestown WMA during the opening portion of the meeting. According to Brents, purposeful, controlled fires set at regular intervals not only lower the chances of catastrophic wildfires by burning up fuel loads on the ground before they can accumulate to dangerous levels, but they also promote a variety of annual grasses and plants that are extremely beneficial to wildlife.
“We see game birds like northern bobwhites and turkeys that will use these opened areas as well as dozens of nongame species that you won’t find when the forest canopy is closed,” Brents said. “Fire, combined with forest thinning, puts more diverse plant communities on the landscape, which supports a much healthier wildlife population.” [CLICK FOR PRESENTATION]
Director Booth also touched on prescribed fire in his report to the Commission, but his take was on the increased assistance being placed in private landowners’ hands to conduct this sort of habitat management through the agency’s Conservation Incentive Program.
Booth noted that two things stood out to him when he joined the Commission in 2021: the limited capacity of the AGFC in fixing the huge number of challenges it faces and the enthusiasm of private landowners to support conservation on their own land and contribute to the state’s conservation efforts.
“These two realizations were the inspiration behind our Conservation Incentive Program,” Booth said. “This effort is not only to expand the scale of what we’re doing for the natural resources on our public lands and outside of it, but also to bring more people alongside this agency and build a broader tent for conservation.”
The Conservation Incentive Program works by reimbursing landowners for some of the expenses they incur while improving wildlife habitat on their property through specific management techniques. It was unveiled earlier this year and, according to Booth, has already seen more than 650 applicants for the nine categories of habitat practices offered. A full breakdown of the program is available at www.agfc.com/education/
“This agency has never been able to do it alone, and we can’t do it alone going forward,” Booth said. “This program was supported not only by our Governor, but our Legislature and we would not be here seeing the results we see now without their support.” [LINK TO PRESENTATION]
In other business, the Commission:
Authorized the removal of two lost items from inventory with an original value of $5,230 and a current net worth of $0.
Awarded AGFC Game Warden Sgt. Tom Pointfield his service sidearms after more than 21 years of service to the people and natural resources of Arkansas.
Authorized Director Booth to complete the purchase of a 20-acre in-holding within Cypress Bayou Wildlife Management Area in White County to be added to that WMA for public access and wildlife habitat.
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