Land added to Frog Bayou area

Ex­pands hunt­ing, bird­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in Craw­ford County

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - COMICS | SUDOKU | CROSSWORD | PUZZLE - RANDY ZELLERS

The Arkansas Game and Fish Com­mis­sion has com­pleted the pur­chase of land sur­round­ing the Frog Bayou Wildlife Man­age­ment Area in Craw­ford County.

The deal al­most triples the size of the wa­ter­fowl-hunt­ing and wildlife-view­ing des­ti­na­tion. Game and Fish had pur­sued the pur­chase of 1,390 acres ad­ja­cent to Frog Bayou for many years.

The prop­erty does not drain well, mak­ing it too dif­fi­cult and un­pre­dictable to farm con­sis­tently. Its nat­u­ral hy­drol­ogy, how­ever, makes it ideal for the restora­tion of high-qual­ity wildlife habi­tat, par­tic­u­larly moist-soil habi­tats for wa­ter­fowl and other mi­grat­ing birds.

“Frog Bayou is one of the few pub­lic duck hunt­ing ar­eas in the west-cen­tral to north­west part of the state, so it has been ex­tremely pop­u­lar since its es­tab­lish­ment,” said Luke Nay­lor, Game and Fish wa­ter­fowl pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor. “Ex­pand­ing it has been a high pri­or­ity, but many com­pli­ca­tions with mul­ti­ple own­er­ships sur­round­ing the prop­erty had made it dif­fi­cult to pur­sue un­til re­cently.”

Game and Fish worked with The Trust for Pub­lic Land to make the pur­chase pos­si­ble. The trust se­cured a pur­chase agree­ment with the landowner and con­veyed it to Game and Fish as grant fund­ing be­came avail­able. This en­abled Game and Fish to go through the proper chan­nels to se­cure Fed­eral Aid in Wildlife Restora­tion funds.

The to­tal price was $4.54 mil­lion, 75 percent of which was brought in through Fed­eral Aid in Wildlife Restora­tion funds.

“Those funds are brought in through ex­cise taxes on sport­ing goods and firearms pur­chases,” said Matt War­riner, Game and Fish as­sis­tant chief of wildlife man­age­ment. “This is ex­actly how the Fed­eral Aid in Wildlife Restora­tion Act was de­signed to be used 80 years ago. The peo­ple who use the re­source help pay to pro­tect it and es­tab­lish new pub­lic lands to pur­sue their pas­sion through their equip­ment pur­chases. As a re­sult, the wildlife ben­e­fits from in­creased habi­tat, and ev­ery­one who wishes to use the prop­erty ben­e­fits from in­creased ac­cess.”

Nay­lor said the area not only of­fers ex­cel­lent wa­ter­fowl-hunt­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties, but for years many lo­cal bird-watch­ing en­thu­si­asts have been mak­ing use of Frog Bayou.

“A lot of peo­ple are driv­ing from Fayet­teville to the area,” Nay­lor said. “The man­agers con­sis­tently see many stu­dents who wa­ter­fowl hunt there in the morn­ing and are still able to make it to af­ter­noon classes. Bird­ing groups also make day-trips out there to look for wet­land birds and Neotrop­i­cal mi­grant birds in spring and fall.”

Stacey Shankle, se­nior project man­ager for The Trust for Pub­lic Land, said the Frog Bayou ex­pan­sion is ex­actly the sort of project that his or­ga­ni­za­tion looks for to help im­prove pub­lic ac­cess to the outdoors.

“It re­ally takes part­ner­ships to make these sorts of pos­i­tive im­pacts for the pub­lic at this scale,” Shankle said.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/File Photo

David Oak­ley spot­ted a dragon­fly last fall at Frog Bayou Wildlife Man­age­ment Area. The state Game and Fish Com­mis­sion re­cently bought 1,390 acres ad­ja­cent to the area.

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