The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has approved a budget increase of $5.73 million to cover the costs of several pressing projects.
The largest on the list is the renovation of Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery, which produces trout, for $3.27 million. An additional, $3.5 million was approved in June. With the most recent approval, the total renovation cost will be $6.7 million.
Other projects are Henry Gray Hurricane Lake Wildlife Management Area’s south greentree reservoir, at a cost of $2.8 million, partially funded by grants and AGFC matches; Lake Overcup dam repair, $500,000; Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center roof repair, $150,000; Tri-County Lake fishing pier, $150,000; and Payneway Dam repair at St. Francis Sunken Lands WMA, $60,000.
Funds for the projects will be moved from the Stability and Enhancement Fund to the AGFC’s 2022 fiscal year operating budget of $94,985,062. All funding was approved at the commission’s meeting in late July.
AGFC Director Austin Booth was authorized to continue an agreement to manage 11,850 acres at the University of Arkansas Pine Tree Experimental Station Wildlife Demonstration Area. The agreement lasts through the end of the year, though the AGFC and the UA Division of Agriculture are working to create a long-term partnership to manage the area, which is popular among local sportsmen and women.
Booth said the projects approved represent the importance of infrastructure and wildlife management to Arkansans and the AGFC.
“These projects will benefit thousands of Arkansas outdoorsmen from all across the state from all different walks of life — from trout anglers, to public land hunters and folks that simply love fishing from the bank,” Booth said. “I am grateful for commissioners' approval and am excited to see these projects bring more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors."
The commission also approved a fishing regulation for Lake Poinsett near Jonesboro that requires all game fish species caught from the lake to be released immediately, with the exception of catfish (daily limit of five), effective until Jan. 1. On and after Jan. 1, all game fish species except bream and catfish must be released immediately, and daily limits will be 25 for bream and 10 for catfish.