From Backcountry Hunters & Anglers:
PINE TREE, Ark. – Prime fish and game habitat in eastern Arkansas will remain publicly owned and publicly accessible following today’s cancellation of a planned land sale that was strongly opposed by Backcountry Hunters & Anglers’ Arkansas chapter.
BHA’s Arkansas chapter led opposition by hunters, anglers and others to the proposed sale by the University of Arkansas of a large portion of the Pine Tree Experimental Station Wildlife Demonstration Area, or WDA. Following outspoken criticism by thousands of sportsmen and women, Arkansas legislators and the state’s senior U.S. senator joined the chorus advocating for keeping Pine Tree under public ownership.
BHA Arkansas Chapter Chair James Brandenburg thanked the diverse voices who opposed the sale of Pine Tree and emphasized the power of an individual to effect positive outcomes for hunting, fishing and conservation.
“From the beginning, our chapter has believed that this proposed sale violated both the letter and the spirit of the law,” Brandenburg said. “We have been blessed to have the support of thousands of public land owners, dedicated efforts by state legislators like Sen. Ron Caldwell and Reps. Steve Hollowell and Reginald Murdock, and the commitment of national policymakers Rep. Rick Crawford and Sen. John Boozman.
“This sale was stopped because one person raised his voice when he learned that public land was going to be sold to the highest bidder,” continued Brandenburg, who lives in Bentonville. “Our success in stopping this sale is due to the unique coalition of public and private sector partners we were able to build, but we wouldn’t have even begun without that first person saying, ‘This isn’t right.’ Today, everyday outdoorsmen and women can celebrate continued access to public land in Arkansas.”
BHA President and CEO Land Tawney applauded the efforts by the Arkansas chapter to keep public lands in public hands.
“Boots on the ground action at its finest!” said Tawney. “I couldn’t be more proud of the work done by our Arkansas chapter, in particular Chapter Chair James Brandenburg, to keep Pine Tree in public hands. Margaret Mead’s quote could not be more fitting: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’
“This is truly a signature win for Arkansas, the Southeast region, and BHA as a whole,” Tawney stated. “I look forward to seeing our Arkansas members build upon the momentum of this successful effort.”
Across the Arkansas Delta, where agriculture and duck hunting dominate the landscape, public access to places to hunt and fish is decreasing. Many Arkansans depend on public lands and waters, including Pine Tree WDA, for time afield. For decades, the 11,850-acre Pine Tree has been available for public hunting and fishing access in partnership with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Pine Tree includes prime habitat for wintering waterfowl, whitetail, quail, rabbit, turkey, and a host of other game and non-game species. It is 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 top destination for waterfowlers.
“Our chapter looks forward to the next phase in the Pine Tree property’s history,” concluded Brandenburg, “a phase where we all work together to manage the habitat and the access to it in a way that demonstrates the true intentions envisioned by the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act – and the opportunity to ensure the long term conservation of and public access to great places to hunt and fish.”
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the voice
for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.