Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Arkansasupdated: January 2013

Background
In an effort to combat the decline of quality fish and wildlife habitat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (Partners) is working with landowners to restore, enhance, and protect fish and wildlife habitat on private lands. Through alliances with organizations, and individuals, Partners main focus is to restore vegetation and hydrology to historic conditions on private lands. A voluntary program, Partners is working proactively with private landowners for the mutual benefit of declining federal trust species. The future of our nation’s fish and wildlife depends on the private landowner. Over two-thirds of our nation’s land and three-quarters of the remaining wetlands are in private ownership.

Habitats of Special Concern
The primary focus of the Partners program in Arkansas has been the restoration of bottomland hardwoods and wetlands to their historic condition. Bottomland hardwood forests provide crucial habitat for fish and wildlife populations.

Historically, about 24 million acres of bottomland hardwoods extended nearly the entire length of the Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley. Today, fewer than 5 million acres remain. This represents over 80 percent of the loss of forested wetlands along the Mississippi River with remnant tracts distributed as mostly small to moderately-sized fragments. The majority of the remaining bottomland forests (67 percent) are found along stream margins and drainage ways. Over the last 100 years, the floodplain available for natural flood storage has been reduced about 90 percent and the flood storage capacity of the Delta has been reduced from about 60 to 12 days of mean daily discharge.

Threats
Excessive logging of mature bottomland hardwood forests is perhaps the biggest threat to fish and wildlife populations in Arkansas. The decline of bottomland hardwood habitat is believed to be the main reason for the extinction of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker and the Bachman’s Warbler throughout their respective ranges. The black bear, once common, is now found in a few remaining large forested bottomland areas such as the White River and the Atchafalaya Basin. Repatriation is helping to reestablish it throughout parts of its range within the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Other wildlife species, such as waterfowl and neotropical migratory birds (e.g., prothonotary warbler) have experienced population declines as bottomland hardwood forests were converted or fragmented into smaller patches.

Long term surveys in the southeast have shown that 71 percent of neotropical migratory bird populations declined between 1978 and 1987. In Louisiana, populations declined 47 percent, 53 percent in Mississippi, and an astonishing 77 percent in Arkansas between 1980 and 1989. Wildlife species endemic to the Delta, such as the red wolf and the Florida panther, disappeared from the region.

Other threats to fish and wildlife populations in Arkansas include but are not limited to the following:

  • Urban development
  • Logging
  • Agricultural runoff and siltation
  • Excessive pumping
  • Prairie conversion
  • Long-term fire suppression
  • Competing plant species
  • Groundwater contamination
  • Reduction in water quality
  • Habitat degradation
  • Human disturbance
  • Forest fragmentation
  • Stream alteration
  • In-stream gravel mining
  • Bottomland hardwood forest conversion to pine plantations
  • Ditching
  • River levees

Conservation Strategies
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Arkansas is using the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy Plan (Plan) to help guide its restoration efforts. The Plan’s mission and goals are similar to the Partners program, with an emphasis on keeping common species common, keeping additional species off the threatened and endangered lists, saving habitats, increasing funding for nongame wildlife, building partnerships with private and public entities, and promoting voluntary conservation actions. This Plan will be an invaluable tool for the Partners program. As a tool, it has identified and ranked ecoregions, ecobasins, and terrestrial habitats throughout Arkansas. The Partners program continues its close collaboration with the state and other partners in delivering priority conservation actions on private lands. For more details about the plan, reference the internet link www.wildlifearkansas.com

Bottomland Hardwoods
Bottomland hardwood restoration activities are targeting primarily the Red River Basin, Ouachita/Saline Rivers and the Mississippi Alluvial Plain Focus Areas. Reforestation within these focus areas are concentrating on restoring bottomland hardwood forest along major river systems, such as White, Arkansas, Ouachita, Red, and the Mississippi Rivers. Concentrating along river systems, forest-breeding bird areas designated by Partners in Flight are creating large core areas for forest-breeding birds. They are a major component of the Partner’s Lower Mississippi River Ecosystem private lands committee and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Wetlands Reserve Program ranking criteria in Arkansas. Efforts are underway to establish similar forest breeding bird focus areas in other parts of Arkansas.

Since, the rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, the Partners program is focusing on restoring bottomland hardwoods habitat within The Nature Conservancy’s Big Woods area. Mature bottomland hardwoods are being protected, whenever possible, and restoration activities are occurring throughout the Big Woods area and other areas with potential Ivory-bill Woodpecker habitat.

Partnerships between the Service and other resource agencies have been established to restore this magnificent bird. Bottomland hardwood restoration costs in Arkansas ranges from $96 to $140/acre.

Wetlands
Wetland restoration potential in Arkansas is unlimited. Wetlands are restored by plugging ditches, creating small berms or levees, or installing water control structures at a cost of $300 to $900/acre. Whenever possible, landowners participating in the Partners program are encouraged to obtain water control structures from the Arkansas Partners Program (Ducks Unlimited, Inc.) at no cost to the landowner, other than installation and initial pick up. Some landowners enroll lands restored by the Wetland restoration potential in Arkansas is unlimited. Wetlands are restored by plugging ditches, creating small berms or levees, or installing water control structures at a cost of $300 to $900/acre. Whenever possible, landowners participating in the Partners program are encouraged to obtain water control structures from the Arkansas Partners Program (Ducks Unlimited, Inc.) at no cost to the landowner, other than installation and initial pick up. Some landowners enroll lands restored by the Partners program into the USDA’s Wetlands Reserve Program. Programs such as the Arkansas Partners program of Ducks Unlimited and the USDA’s Wetlands Reserve Program compliment the Partners program.

Streams and Riparian Areas
Arkansas streams and riparian (streamside) areas are valuable resources and provide habitat for numerous aquatic species. Riparian areas help stabilize streambanks, improve water quality, reduce flooding and sedimentation, and enhance wildlife habitat. The Partners program plays a significant role by working with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Arkansas Stream Team to restore and stabilize streambanks in Arkansas. Fencing is often used along streambanks to exclude livestock which contribute to bank erosion and sediment deposition at a cost of $300 per quarter mile.

Arkansas streams and riparian (streamside) areas are valuable resources and provide habitat for numerous aquatic species. Riparian areas help stabilize streambanks, improve water quality, reduce flooding and sedimentation, and enhance wildlife habitat. The Partners program plays a significant role by working with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Arkansas Stream Team to restore and stabilize streambanks in Arkansas. Fencing is often used along streambanks to exclude livestock which contribute to bank erosion and sediment deposition at a cost of $300 per quarter mile.

Outdoor Education
Occassionally, the Partners program provides technical assistance to educational facilities and conservation groups to help develop outdoor classrooms. In Arkansas, the Partners program has provided funding to assist with prairie restoration, wetland creation, habitat protection, and native grass establishment.

Accomplishments

Occassionally, the Partners program provides technical assistance to educational facilities and conservation groups to help develop outdoor classrooms. In Arkansas, the Partners program has provided funding to assist with prairie restoration, wetland creation, habitat protection, and native grass establishment.
  • Since 1988, over 220 Partners for Fish and Wildlife projects have restored, enhanced, or protected fish and wildlife habitat on private lands.
  • The Partners program has carried out restoration, enhancement, and protection activities on over 40,000 acres.
  • More than 45 water control structures have been installed to improve habitat for wetland associated species.
  • Over 450 project sites have been restored, enhanced, or protected.
  • 50 miles of riparian habitat have been restored and 1 mile fenced.
  • Over 28,000 acres of bottomland hardwood trees have been planted, totalling over 8 million trees.
  • 2 educational and 2 recreational facilities are using restored wildlife habitat as an outdoor classroom.

Future Needs

  • Restore, enhance and protect 1,000 miles of riparian habitat.
  • Restore, enhance, and protect 390,000 acres of bottomland hardwoods and wetlands, primarily within the Lower Mississippi River and Arkansas-Red Ecosystems. These wetlands can be restored effectively and are the most productive wetlands used by migratory birds.
  • More than 242,000 acres of riparian corridors could be restored in Arkansas.
  • Concentrate on restoring, protecting, and enhancing terrestrial and aquatic habitats for imperiled species.
  • Restore, enhance, and protect habitat for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

Alternate Contact Info
Deborah Ryckeley
South Arkansas Refuges
3858 Hwy. 8 East
Perkdale, Arkansas 71661
Phone: (870) 473-2869
FAX: (870) 473- 5191
Email: Deborah_Ryckeley@fws.gov


 

 


Contact Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Arkansas

Joe Krystofik
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
110 South Amity Road
Suite 300
Conway, Arkansas  72032
Phone: 501 513-4479
Fax: (501) 513-4480


 

Service Area

Statewide Program in:
  • Arkansas

Office Locaters



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