Good story from AP's Andrew DeMillo on the hangover Arkansas Game and Fish has from all of that Chesapeake lease money they received last summer. DeMillo writes:
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's windfall from a multi-million-dollar deal to lease wildlife areas for natural gas drilling is creating more headaches than dividends for the agency.
A pending lawsuit and proposals to either strip the commission of its autonomy or reduce its revenues by about $13 million a year have followed its $30 million deal to lease thousands of acres to a natural gas firm.
Friction between the commission -- which manages the state's wildlife habitat and regulates hunting and fishing -- and lawmakers isn't new, but the influx of cash has created another reason for grumbling.
"They have an image problem," said Sen. Terry Smith, D-Hot Springs.
Smith has proposed two major changes to the commission in response to the panel's decision in July to lease two wildlife management areas to Chesapeake Energy Corp. for drilling and exploration. The leases allow the Oklahoma City-based company to have access to more than 7,500 acres in the Petit Jean River WMA in Yell County and nearly 4,000 acres in the Gulf Mountain WMA in Van Buren County.