A walk on the wild side | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A walk on the wild side

Posted By on Tue, Mar 3, 2009 at 2:45 PM

Regular readers will know -- and likely groan -- at our continuing interest in encouraging the Game and Fish Commission to spend a lot more effort on wildlife appreciation beyond hunters and anglers. Wildlife tourism -- bird watching, hiking, photography, etc. -- has been exploited handsomely in many other states. G&FC argues that it is doing much in this direction already.

Comes now legislation that avows it would encourage wildlife tourism in Arkansas. They'd like to see Game and Fish use some of its gas lease money to do it.

This bill, with some 61 House sponsors, calls for development of "wildife recreation facilities" with gas royalties. This bill potentially steps on two big sets of toes -- Game and Fish and its constitutional prerogatives and 2) the Parks and Tourism Department. The Department of Rural Services would like to try this pilot project.

Is it really about wildlife tourism? Or is it about forcing Game and Fish to divert some money to small towns to build shooting ranges, fishing ponds and boat launches, sort of a junior Game and Fish for rural areas to divvy up? You tell me.

This companion bill is more along the lines of what I've been thinking about. Development of wildlife trials -- which would improve access to hunting and fishing to be sure -- developed in cooperation with Parks and Tourism.

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