by Max Brantley
The Game and Fish Commission got a look today at the agency staff's ideas for spending the coming gas royalty riches. The list, I imagne, is crafted to be so wonderful as to discourage any legislator from pursuing the arguable legal point (yes, I know about the constitutional amendment, but there's a good counter argument) that the money should be spread around a bit. This is just talk now.
Most interesting item to me was the purchase of 804 acres along Little Mamelle Creek, including bottomland hardwoods and fields now in turf growing. Restoration of this for recreation use would solve a problem for Central Arkansas Water, currently being held up by a speculator to buy the land at an inflated price under threat of dubious residential development in the Lake Mamelle Watershed. Other items include:
LAND ACQUISTION: 20,000 acres in the Saline Bottoms; 100,000 acres of pine forest in South Arkansas; 5,000 acres for elk habitat near the Buffalo River; buying some private tracts in and around existing wildlife management areas; pay off bonds on the Moro Big Pine WMA; the 1,500-acre Buck Island.
EDUCATION: a center at Camp Ouachita; Hooked on Fishing; school conservation programs; youth shooting programs; HOLD YOUR BREATH -- "increase wildlife viewing opportunities on WMAs and lakes. Develop wildlife trails across the state." This last is about the only mention of something solely for people who don't impale fish with hooks or slay birds and mammals with bullets.
WATER RESOURCES: Relocate campgrounds on the White River; Bayou Meto irrigation; develop a natural resources plan.
FISHING: More fish stocking; habitat improvement; maintenance trust fund.
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREAS: Improve hunting access; improve roads; improving parking and camping; improve habitat; maintenance fund.
PARTNER PROJECTS: Work other state agnecies to better inspect shale exploration and provide for reclamation. (Wait. Can't we trust industry to operate properly and reclaim land as required by law?) Provide more money to counties for road improvements.
MATCHING GRANT PROGRAM.