Arkansas Wildlife Action Plan

By the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Expert Arkansas biologists gathered over the course of a year to assemble a list of 369 species prioritized by greatest conservation need. Participants also identified threats associated with each of these species’ habitats, and identified conservation actions necessary to prevent the species from declining. This information was organized in a format that can be easily updated as the state improves its knowledge of little-known species and determines what is needed to protect the overall health of habitats that house and feed many of these species. Special care was taken to communicate to the public during this process and to listen to and incorporate constituents’ views.

Primary Challenges to Conserving Wildlife in Arkansas

The Arkansas action plan identifies 18 categories of threats facing wildlife. These are hydrological alteration, nutrient loading, habitat destruction, sedimentation, biological alteration, chemical alteration, alteration of natural fire regimes, altered composition/structure, excessive herbivory, extraordinary competition for resources, extraordinary predation/parasitism/disease, groundwater depletion, habitat destruction or conversion, habitat disturbance, habitat fragmentation, resource depletion, riparian habitat destruction, and toxins/contaminants.

For example, habitat loss results from changes in the land and waters that adversely affect the homes and food of species of conservation concern. Each species has special needs, and alterations in the habitat may reduce their ability to survive or thrive. Learning what the special needs are, communicating these to land managers, taking conservation actions and monitoring the species response are necessary to keep species and habitats healthy. An example of this would be conversion of prairie or woodlands to non-native fescue pasture, which reduces the survivability of some species, such as ornate box turtles and bobwhite quail. 

Habitat alteration, such as road construction, can also introduce sediments into flowing waters to the detriment of fish, mussels, dragonflies and other aquatic species that require clear, clean water.

Working Together for Arkansas’ Wildlife

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission engaged the public through a series of news releases, brochures, e-mail contact lists and a continually evolving website. The Commission involved the community of natural resources professionals by inviting their participation in the creation of a comprehensive survey of species and habitats in the state. AGFC also conducted an attitude and opinion survey to understand public and stakeholder attitudes prior to a campaign to involve and inform members of targeted interest groups.

Other steps included a letter that was sent to leaders of 107 key intermediary organizations that represent or provide information to individuals and landowners with an interest in species and habitat conservation, and an informational mailing that was sent to 2,600+ individuals, primarily landowners and members of hunting clubs who participate in the Acres for Wildlife program. This mailing included an informational brochure, an invitation to register online for one of five stakeholder meetings, and links to the website. Nearly 250 individuals attended five stakeholder meetings in Hope, Jonesboro, Fayetteville, Lake Village and Little Rock in June 2005. Each meeting was designed to elicit public involvement and comment using story-telling exercises, a presentation and small group discussions and response.

 

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies represents all of North America’s fish and wildlife agencies, promotes sound management and conservation, and speaks with a unified voice on important fish and wildlife issues.

 

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