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Improvements to drainage at Dave Donaldson Black River WMA continue

BY Randy Zellers

ON 11-23-2022


Nov. 23, 2022

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

DELAPLAINE — As part of its ongoing efforts to improve habitat quality for migrating waterfowl on public land, contractors with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will continue mulching of woody vegetation and debris within Dave Donaldson Black River Wildlife Management Area in northeastern Arkansas during 2022 waterfowl season.

The mulching will take place at the Brookings Greentree Reservoir along the east border of Lake Ashbaugh and at Gar Slough north of Winchester GTR. These portions of the WMA receive agricultural irrigation runoff during spring and summer, but this year’s drier-than-normal conditions have allowed contractors to use traditional mulching equipment to remove undesired trees and brush, which slows the flow of water and increases siltation.

“Over time, this clogging of the drainage points on the WMA has increased stress on red oak species that are valuable to migrating mallards,” Jason Carbaugh, assistant regional supervisor for the AGFC, said. “By improving flow in these critical drains, long-term we hope to regenerate red oaks where we can to produce good mast crops of this important food resource for wintering waterfowl.”

Carbaugh said the dry conditions make it possible for contractors to accomplish the mulching work much more efficiently. Equipment was moved on site and began work as early as possible to lessen impacts from work interfering with hunting activity. The mulching will continue until the Black River reaches an elevation to flood the contractors out. It is forecast that contractors will work in both Brookings GTR and Gar Slough area at least through the end of the first duck season split.

While the project’s timing is not ideal, the work may help hunters who prefer to hunt the nearby Winchester GTR on the WMA.

“Winchester GTR is one of the most popular areas on the WMA, but it’s the last area that floods up because of how water flows through the system,” Carbaugh said. “Water that would have flowed into Brookings will be diverted to Winchester, allowing it to fill up quicker.”

Visit to learn more about the AGFC’s effort to revitalize Arkansas’s famous public waterfowl-hunting areas.

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