PARAGOULD — Thanks to the continued partnership of the National Wild Turkey Federation and Greene County Wildlife Club with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, a small, yet important piece of land inside the boundary of W.E. Brewer Scatter Creek Wildlife Management Area is now part of public hunting opportunities in northeast Arkansas.
According to Jason Carbaugh, assistant biologist supervisor for the AGFC, the Arkansas chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation was able to secure a 5-acre plot of land within the 5,007-acre WMA to donate it to the AGFC. The $14,000 needed to purchase the property came from sales of the NWTF’s Arkansas license plate, similar to the AGFC’s conservation license plates.
“Just like how the AGFC’s plates raise money for conservation scholarships and education, $25 of the $35 added price for the personalized NWTF plate goes to the NWTF for land acquisition, research and education,” Carbaugh said. “This project would not have been possible without those plates.”
The Greene County Wildlife Club also stepped in to make the purchase a reality by helping with the appraisal of the property. The property was then donated to the AGFC to open access to hunters, birdwatchers and other outdoors enthusiasts.
Carbaugh says the acquisition of private inholdings to current wildlife management areas always are viewed as priorities when funding is available and landowners are willing to sell at market value.
“Shoring up the land not only helps make larger-scale management practices, but it eliminates access issues for the landowner as well as accidental trespassing issues with the public,” Carbaugh said. “We wish we could do more of these acquisitions but the timing has to be right.”
William E. Brewer Scatter Creek WMA is composed of various-sized tracts of land scattered throughout Crowley’ Ridge. There are large amounts of private land intertwined within the WMA boundaries, creating a sporadic pattern of public land rather than one contiguous management area. It is surrounded mostly by excellent upland wildlife habitat, consisting of hardwood and pine forest interspersed with pasture land. Few sections of cropland surround the WMA, but Crowley’s Ridge itself is surrounded by fertile farm land that produces corn, soybeans and rice annually. The WMA provides excellent habitat for white-tailed deer and eastern wild turkey. Beneficial habitat for northern bobwhite, squirrels and rabbits also is present throughout the WMA. The WMA also hosts Jack Cox shooting range, an unmanned shooting area with marked ranges out to 200 yards. The WMA was first created in 1986 when the AGFC purchased approximately 1,200 acres in conjunction with the Greene County Wildlife Club, and smaller parcels have been added since that time.
“It took a lot of people and organizations to come together on this project, and we’re thankful to everyone who was able to pitch in and make it happen,” Carbaugh said. “We look forward to many opportunities in the future to improve wildlife habitat and access for the sportsmen and women of Arkansas.”