Farmer, busi­ness­man fills Game and Fish seat

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - BRYAN HENDRICKS

Af­ter Gov. Asa Hutchin­son ap­pointed him to the Arkansas Game and Fish Com­mis­sion on Tues­day at the Witt Stephens Cen­tral Arkansas Na­ture Cen­ter in Lit­tle Rock, Stan Jones of Wal­nut Ridge bran­dished a deeply stained nub of a No. 2 lead pen­cil with a sym­met­ri­cal, nee­dle-shaped point.

“I’ve used this pen­cil since the day I en­tered the first grade,” Jones said. “I sharpen it with a knife, and I keep it with me ev­ery day so that I never for­get where I came from.”

Jones, 66, fills the va­cancy on the Game and Fish Com­mis­sion cre­ated by the de­par­ture of for­mer Game and Fish Com­mis­sioner Fred Brown of Corn­ing, whose term ex­pired June 30. A wid­ower, Jones has two sur­viv­ing chil­dren, Britt Jones, 37, and Lind­sey Hen­drich, 34. He was in­ducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

Jones is Hutchin­son’s third ap­point­ment to the Game and Fish Com­mis­sion, a con­sti­tu­tion­ally cre­ated body that man­ages the state’s fish and wildlife re­sources.

Though his pri­mary oc­cu­pa­tion is rice farm­ing, Jones is a ma­jor­ity owner in Avery Out­doors and Banded, both ma­jor brands for wa­ter­fowl hunt­ing gear and ap­parel. He also owns Stan Jones Mal­lard Lodge in Ali­cia. He owns about 7,000 acres in north­east Arkansas, of which he said about 1,000 acres is man­aged as wildlife habi­tat.

With an an­nual bud­get of about $ 85.5 mil­lion and 587 full-time em­ploy­ees, the Game and Fish Com­mis­sion man­ages 600,000 acres of lakes; 100,000 miles of rivers and streams; nearly 3 mil­lion acres of habi­tat; seven fish hatch­eries and net pens; 20 lo­cal and re­gional of­fices; four ed­u­ca­tion cen­ters; and four na­ture cen­ters.

In fis­cal 2016-17, the Game and Fish Com­mis­sion sold 619,330 res­i­dent hunt­ing and fish­ing li­censes and 199,342 non­res­i­dent hunt­ing and fish­ing li­censes. In 2011, the most re­cent year for which data i are avail­able, state res­i­dents and non­res­i­dents spent $1.8 bil­lion on wildlife-associated recre­ation in Arkansas.

Cit­ing Jones’s com­mit­ment to pre­serv­ing wildlife habi­tat, Hutchin­son said that Jones will be a ver­sa­tile ad­di­tion to the Game and Fish Com­mis­sion be­cause he un­der­stands the im­por­tance of hunt­ing and fish­ing to Arkansas’ cul­ture and econ­omy.

“To me, ap­point­ing a Game and Fish com­mis­sioner is one of the most im­por­tant ap­point­ments a gover­nor can make,” Hutchin­son said. “When I look for a Game and Fish com­mis­sioner, I look for some­one who val­ues deep in their heart our out­door hunt­ing and fish­ing cul­ture in Arkansas. They re­spect that cul­ture, they want to pre­serve that cul­ture and pass it along to the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion.”

Hutchin­son said he spent two years in­ter­view­ing Jones for the po­si­tion as his hunt­ing part­ner.

“I spent a lot of time with Stan in the duck woods,” Hutchin­son said. “I’ve seen how he knows habi­tat and how he works to pro­tect it, and that is the essence of a Game and Fish com­mis­sioner.”

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