Sportsmen and Women Unite to Keep Arkansas Public Lands Publicly Accessible

News for Immediate Release
Aug. 6, 2020
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262,
mckalip@backcountryhunters.org

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers’ new Arkansas chapter leads fight
to keep public lands publicly owned and open to public recreation

PINE TREE, Ark. – Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Arkansas chapter is leading the fight to keep the University of Arkansas Pine Tree Experimental Station Wildlife Demonstration Area, or WDA, publicly accessible and open to public hunting and fishing, with, to date, more than a thousand sportsmen and women signing a petition to keep the WDA public. The university is considering selling a large portion of the property.  

The eastern Arkansas WDA was obtained in 1960 from the U.S. Forest Service for the purpose of conducting agricultural research. For decades, the 11,850-acre property has been available for public hunting and fishing access in partnership with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. It includes prime habitat for wintering waterfowl, whitetail, quail, rabbit, turkey, and a host of other game and non-game species. It’s one of the state’s more coveted deer permit draws and, when the L’Anguille River experiences its annual flooding and the area attracts migrating ducks, a first-class waterfowling destination.

BHA’s Arkansas chapter was officially launched only this summer, and chapter members have worked quickly to speak up in support of keeping the WDA publicly owned and accessible.

“Arkansans are blessed to have over 3 million acres of public land on which to recreate no matter their level of income,” said BHA Arkansas Chair James Brandenburg, of Bentonville. “If you live close enough to the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, or the Ouachita National Forest, or perhaps the White River or Cache River National Wildlife Refuges, you may indeed feel like a wealthy person every time you’re able to visit them. But for many people, the local wildlife management area is all they have, and it may only be a few thousand acres. That’s why Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is fighting to keep the Pine Tree Experimental Station WDA publicly owned and accessible to members of the public.”

Access to hunting and fishing is also a concern for State Senator Ronald Caldwell (R-Wynne). “In St. Francis County, Pine Tree WDA is the place where generations of Arkansans have learned to hunt,” Caldwell said. “That’s why I'm working diligently with other lawmakers and state agencies to find a better way to solve this problem and keep it open to hunting for generations to come.”

Across the Arkansas Delta, where agriculture and duck hunting dominate the landscape, public access to places to hunt and fish is rapidly decreasing. Many Arkansans depend on public lands and waters, including Pine Tree, for their own time afield – and to engage the next generation of sportsmen and women as well. Insufficient access is the No. 1 reason cited by hunters and anglers for foregoing time afield.

“In the case of the Pine Tree Experimental Station, the deed of the property’s sale from the Forest Service to the University of Arkansas notes that the ‘land shall be used for public purposes,’” said Brandenburg. “The Arkansas chapter of BHA is urging adherence to that deed should the university no longer want to retain ownership.”

Read and sign the BHA petition on the Pine Tree Experimental Station Wildlife Demonstration Area.

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