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Commission authorizes new boat access to Bayou Bartholomew

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission unanimously approved at today’s regularly scheduled meeting the use of Marine Fuel Tax funds to build a boat ramp to Bayou Bartholomew at its intersection with Arkansas Highway 277 in Drew County.

According to Kevin Mullen, chief of operations for the AGFC, the project was recommended by staff to take advantage of current work being performed on the bridge spanning the bayou at this location.

“The Arkansas Department of Transportation is planning to renovate the bridge, so the timing of this project works out as a good addition to the renovation,” Mullen said.

Total funds approved for the boat ramp project are not to exceed $180,000.

Marine fuel taxes are collected on gasoline and diesel fuel used in boats throughout Arkansas. The money is held by the ADOT and is distributed through a partnership between the AGFC and ADOT.

Since its inception in 1969 Arkansas’s marine fuel tax has funded nearly $59 million in improvements to boating access in the state.

Considered the longest bayou in the world, Bayou Bartholomew begins near Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and flows 359 river miles to the Ouachita River in Sterlington, Louisiana.

In other business, the Commission:

Heard from Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation President Deke Whitbeck who presented the Foundation’s intent to begin the Scott Landers Memorial Lifetime License Award thanks to a generous donation by the Landers family of central Arkansas in memory of their son who died last year;

Recognized six employees of the AGFC with a combined 115 years of dedication to the natural resources of Arkansas;

Heard a presentation from Ted Zawislak, AGFC Private Lands Program coordinator, with an update on the program and this year’s recipients of the AGFC’s 2020 Private Landowner Achievement Awards;

Heard from Wes Wright, AGFC Elk Program coordinator, with a report on the 2020 Arkansas elk hunting season;

Heard from Myron Means, AGFC Large Carnivore Program coordinator, with a report on the 2020 Arkansas bear hunting season;

Authorized Director Fitts to enter into an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to trade 1,930 acres at Beryl Anthony Lower Ouachita WMA in Ashley County to be included in Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge for a 2,263-acre tract owned by the USFWS in Desha County that currently has no public access. The Commission also authorized Fitts to begin an agreement with an adjoining landowner to the tract to grant public access to this unit;

Elected Commissioner Bobby Martin to serve as the Commission’s vice chairman to fill the opening left by former vice-chairman Joe Morgan’s death;

Granted an either-sex elk permit to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for fundraising purposes to go to increased elk habitat in Arkansas;

Granted an either-sex elk permit to the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation for fundraising purposes to go toward conservation education efforts;

Granted an either-sex elk permit to the Arkansas Wildlife Federation for fundraising purposes to go toward increased habitat work and conservation education efforts;

Heard the first reading of three corrections to the AGFC Code of Regulations that were omitted during the last regulations cycle:

Open turkey season on Foushee Cave, Little River and Nimrod Lloyd Millwood WMAs on the third Monday in April to match statewide season dates;

Clarify the language of the Camp Robinson WMA turkey season to eliminate confusion, and

Extend the antlerless season on Ozark National Forest WMA throughout the entire modern gun deer season.

Authorized Director Fitts to endorse the Final Supplemental Watershed Plan for the Muddy Fork of Illinois River Watershed plan, which recommends the removal of the dam forming Kinion Lake and restoring it to a natural condition;

Approved a new agency sponsorship and advertising policy to enable more opportunities to partner with organizations;

Denied a third-party petition to make changes to the Arkansas captive wildlife code with the intention of AGFC staff to address the petitioner’s concerns through alternative amendments to the code at a later date, and

Approved the disposal of obsolete inventory with an original value of $1,682,919 and a current net book value of $220,035.