Farmer, businessman fills Game and Fish seat
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.”