Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Moves to Improve Boating Access
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission recently allocated $513,513 so that fishers and boating enthusiasts can better utilize the White River and Lake Conway. The decision was one of several made during the most recent commission meeting, held on August 16 and 17 in Little Rock.
Funding for the project comes from the Marine Fuel Tax fund. The AGFC and ArDOT collaborated together to create the fund in 1970.
Arkansas’ mariners pay the identical tax drivers pay when fueling their cars. Since 1970, The Marine Fuel Tax fund has ensured that a percentage of those tax funds have been set aside specifically for improving Arkansas’ boating and fishing activities.
Ben Batten, the AGFC’s deputy director, wanted to assure meeting attendees and the public that the allocation funds do not come from new taxes.
Batten, named the deputy director in June following 13 years at the department, told the audience that instead of imposing new taxes, the commission is taking funds from taxes boat owners pay already when they buy gas for their watercraft. It is, he said, a way to make sure that the taxes they pay better serve them.
The AGFC designated the money for the following improvements:
Along the White River, boaters will notice a new boat ramp at the River Ridge Access point, along with a new parking area which costs about $250,000. At the White River’s Chesmond Ferry Access point in Izard County, the commission earmarked $68,000 to repair the road and parking area.
The AGFC set aside $195,513 to repair the parking and boat launch area at the Lawrence Landing Access point for Lake Conway in Faulkner County.
Chesmond Ferry’s repairs will be completed later this year, while boaters using the access points at River Ridge and Lawrence Landing should have already noticed the improvements.
The increased allocation and improvements were possible because the new AGFC commissioner worked with ArDOT to recalculate what percentage of Arkansas’ fuel purchases were going to boaters.
Batten added that the new allocation would let the commission offer additional and improved niceties for the boating and fishing communities.
Before this reallocation, ArDOT was using estimates of Arkansas’ boaters and fuel usage from 1967. In the 55 years since then, Arkansas has seen a boom in the number of boaters. The updated allocation increased from about $1.7 million to almost $4 million.