Hot Springs State Forest among new public hunting opportunities

By RANDY ZELLERS | Arkansas Game & Fish Commission

MOUNTAIN HOME — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission formally adopted regulations Thursday that will add 4,706 acres of public hunting opportunity in The Natural State beginning with the 2023-24 hunting seasons. The announcement was one of many high points in a special series of meetings and events in north Arkansas during the last three days.

Thanks to the continued partnership between the AGFC and Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, two new WMAs on natural areas were formed: Goat’s Beard Bluff Natural Area and Sugarloaf Mountains-Midland Peak Natural Area.

Goat’s Beard Bluff Natural Area encompasses 540 acres in Saline County along the Alum Fork of the Saline River. It is at the transition zone between the Ouachita Mountains and the Gulf Coastal Plain and is inhabited by both upland Ouachita Highland species and lowland Gulf Coastal Plain species.

Sugarloaf Mountains-Midland Peak Natural Area totals 1,191 acres in Sebastian County. The Sugarloaf Mountains are an isolated pair of high, conjoined ridges straddling the border between Arkansas and Oklahoma south of Fort Smith. They represent an isolated portion of the Scattered High Ridges and Mountains ecoregion of the Arkansas River Valley, and the area historically supported large areas of prairie, savanna and open woodland habitat.

Another partnership, this time with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry, added another hunting opportunity to the AGFC’s WMA system. The Hot Springs State Forest comprises 2,975 acres on the outskirts of Hot Springs National Park, and the new agreement with the AGFC will make that land accessible to hunters pursuing deer and other upland game in central Arkansas.

Sanders proclaims Free Fishing Weekend in Arkansas

Thanks to a proclamation by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, anyone may fish in Arkansas without a fishing license or trout stamp from noon Friday, June 9, through midnight Sunday night, June 11.

AGFC Director Austin Booth read the proclamation at today’s meeting of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, thanking Gov. Sanders for her continued support of hunters and anglers and their contribution to conservation as well as Arkansas’s economy. 

The proclamation was only the first highlight for anglers from Booth. In his address to the Commission, he spoke about the successful renovation of the Jim Hinkle Spring River State Hatchery, which was celebrated at a special event Wednesday. The renovation will allow this nearly 50-year-old hatchery to again produce upward of 1 million catchable-size trout for Arkansas anglers annually. 

“It would be tempting to look at the Spring River Hatchery just as a project we completed. It was an opportunity for us, not just as an agency, but as a community to face a decision about a legacy project head-on and make things better,” Booth said. “We can learn a ton from this community and this project as we take on many other challenges facing this Commission. I am confident that we can and will rise to the occasion.”

Categories: Outdoors

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