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Arkansas landowners encouraged to enroll in habitat program

LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is encouraging Arkansas rice producers to take advantage of a habitat incentive program that enables them to earn extra money while maintaining rice production on their fields that are within 10 miles of a WMA that has a waterfowl management focus. A webinar will be offered at 6 p.m., Thursday to learn more about this opportunity. Visit www.agfc.com/wrice for details.

The AGFC’s Waterfowl Rice Incentive Conservation Enhancement Program offers payments of up to $150 per acre to landowners willing to forgo tilling their rice fields under in fall, flood the fields to make waste grain available to ducks and allow the AGFC to conduct managed draw hunts on the property during each weekend of Arkansas’s duck season. The application deadline for this program is June 1.

“The payment varies based on the flooding option the landowner chooses and complies with during the waterfowl wintering period,” said Luke Naylor, waterfowl program coordinator for the AGFC. “We’ve already had many sign up, but we want to let any rice producer within the focus areas have an opportunity to apply for these incentives.”

Naylor says beyond making sure the field is flooded during the waterfowl wintering period and allowing access, landowners will not have to provide any additional accommodations for hunters.

“We will handle all the logistics of the hunts through an open public drawing,” Naylor said. “Only four people per weekend will be allowed to hunt each field, and we will be able to contact them directly. The landowner won’t have to place or maintain any blinds, pits or other special accommodations for the hunts”

The AGFC has hosted one webinar for interested landowners, which is available on the website. The second webinar scheduled for this Thursday also will be hosted from agfc.com.

Visit www.agfc.com/wrice to learn more about the program and how to participate in the webinar.