Make A Difference
Arkansas has a lot to be proud of when it comes to its outdoors, from clean lakes and streams to healthy forests and well-maintained mountain trails. Ask anyone who’s visited other parts of the country and they’ll tell you, Arkansas is truly a cut above.
None of this happens spontaneously, of course. It takes effort, planning and expertise like what we have at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. In this issue of Arkansas Wild, we sit down with AGFC leadership to talk about the challenge of fulfilling such an awesome responsibility. And by challenge, I mean funding.
As we detail in the article, one source of AGFC funding – hunting and fishing licenses – has been in decline for several years. This is a double whammy because the number of licenses sold impacts the formula determining AGFC’s share of some federal funds. Needless to say, if this trendline is not reversed, some hard decisions are ultimately going to have to be made.
Here’s the thing: The Arkansas outdoors belongs to all of us, which means it’s up to all of us – not just active hunters and anglers – to invest our fair share in conservation and upkeep. No one wants to see the day our wonderful nature centers are forced to charge admission, when you have to buy a sticker to explore a WMA, ride a trail or camp at a campground. We don’t want hunter education programs to disappear, fishing derbies and wildlife management cut back, or facilities like fish hatcheries crumbling from lack of improvements.
So, I am calling on every Arkansan who loves our wild spaces to do at least one of the following:
1. Purchase an annual Combination Sportsman’s License on AGFC.com. It just takes a minute and only sets you back about $35. Don’t hunt or fish? Well, who the hell cares? Call it a Tree Hugger Permit, a Hummingbird Watching License, a Critter Club Membership, JUST BUY ONE. The money supports a great cause, and you get a sweet card to show everyone how much you love Arkansas’s outdoors.
2. Support the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation (www.agff.org) via membership, donation, buying a duck stamp print or attending one of the many events the Foundation holds throughout the year. My pals Deke Whitbeck and Ruth-Kathryn Rains in the Foundation office are good folks who’d love to hear from you.
3. Join the Arkansas Outdoor Society, a new group for you young’uns ages 21 to 45 who like to kayak, hunt, mountain bike, fish, hike all over creation or just chill under the stars. You’ll meet new people, discover how to get involved in conservation and not have to worry about old farts like yours truly lousing up your fun. So, get off my lawn and check out agff.org/arkansas-outdoor-society to learn more.
Folks, the time is now for all Arkansans who love our woods, water and trails to stand up and be counted. Together, we can preserve the soul of our state – its wild spaces – for our children and their children to come.