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Conservation component at Leadership Arkansas opens eyes

BY Randy Zellers

ON 12-20-2017


Dec. 20, 2017

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

The woods may be a bit on the dry side this year, but ducks still are making themselves home at Brett Morgan Hallowell Reservoir on Bayou Meto, waiting for the rain to finally flood the backwaters and allow them to spread out in Arkansas’s famed greentree reservoirs. A recent group of participants with the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Arkansas recently had the opportunity to see what duck hunting is all about through their participation in Leadership Arkansas. The special 9-month workshop recruits highly motivated individuals to get first-hand experience on the dynamic interactions between cities, governmental units and the people they serve.

Hunting and fishing are major forces in Arkansas’s economy. Hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers spend $1.8 billion annually to pursue their outdoors passions. With this much invested in the outdoors, the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce included a special session focused on conservation, to teach tomorrow’s leaders the importance of the land and wildlife that thrive upon it.

“It was received with tremendous enthusiasm,” said Arkansas Game and Fish Commissioner Andrew Parker. “Forty alumni of the program went on a duck hunt as well as an educational trip to one of the AGFC’s rest areas to learn about the science behind it.”

The group was given a tour of Brett Morgan Hallowell Reservoir at Bayou Meto, and were able to witness all the birds that used the rest area, despite the extremely dry conditions. Regional biologist Mark Hooks was able to explain the value of native moist-soil plants and the varieties of foods ducks need to remain healthy during their migration.

“Maybe 10 of the 40 participants had ever duck hunted, or even seen large numbers of ducks in one place,” Parker said. “When they witnessed the amazing amount of birds using the area, they forgot they had gotten to bed after midnight the night before and had woken up early. To see the expression on their face I knew we had 40 new advocates of what we as outdoorsmen do.”

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