Game & Fish director pushes wildlife bill
Jeff Crow, director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, urged the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to pass the Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy Preservation for Wildlife Act.
The bipartisan legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. John Boozman, and has the support of dozens of groups, including Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Among other things, the bill reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, a law that has helped to protect thousands of acres of migratory-bird habitat in Arkansas.
The legislation also would offer protection for farmers who allow duck hunting on their property. If approved, farmers could use normal agricultural practices or leave standing crops in flooding areas without violating anti-baiting provisions.
The measure would be welcomed by Arkansas rice growers, who possess highly coveted hunting grounds.
Crow’s Capitol Hill testimony Wednesday noted the importance of outdoor recreation to the state. About 100,000 people hunt ducks in Arkansas each year. Waterfowl hunting supported more than 4,700 jobs and generated more than $236 million in annual retail sales, he said, citing a 2011 survey.
“These significant economic contributions cannot be overlooked and provide much-needed economic stability for our state,” he added.
Boozman, who serves on the committee, said it was good to have Crow on the panel.
“Nobody’s more knowledgeable,” the Republican from Rogers said. “We’re just pleased that we’ve got somebody of this caliber.”