The National Wild Turkey Federation’s Arkansas State Chapter, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Quail Forever are working in synch to conserve and enhance nearly 6,000 acres of publicly accessible wildlife habitat.
Through funding raised from the NWTF Arkansas State Chapter, funds generated through AGFC’s Turkey and Northern Bobwhite Quail Conservation Stamps and partner matching, over $1.6 million of wildlife habitat improvements are set to occur on 15 project sites throughout the Natural State.
The Arkansas State Chapter contributed $67,350 from its Hunting Heritage and Habitat Super Fund, resulting in $207,000 leveraged funding to distribute amongst projects across the state.
“We saw this as a great opportunity to invest funding in wild turkey habitat at a significant level,” said Chris Hinkle, NWTF Arkansas state chapter president. “We are proud to work alongside like-minded conservationists that are equally determined to see the wild turkey flourish in the state.”
Moreover, AFGC’s Turkey and Northern Bobwhite Quail Conservation Stamps, too, raised substantial funding for the habitat enhancement projects, raising $101,108 and $38,767 respectively.
“The NWTF is proud to be a partner and contributor in the upcoming habitat projects,” said Jeremy Everitts, NWTF district biologist in Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. “It is also great to see conservation-minded hunters step up to the plate and purchase the optional conservation stamps. These habitat improvements are the result of hunters, non-profits and agencies working in unison.”
Everitts began working alongside AGFC’s wild turkey program coordinator, Jeremy Wood; AGFC’s quail program coordinator, Marcus Asher; and Ryan Diener, Quail Forever’s Arkansas state coordinator back in 2020 to develop and implement this program.
The committee of biologists and conservationists ranked the projects on priority and placed an emphasis on wildlife and hunting lands, such as turkey walk-in areas and quail focal areas.
“While much of the work we do is aimed specifically to benefit wild turkeys, it often benefits a myriad of game and non-game species and contributes to the overall health of the ecosystem,” Everitts said.
Upcoming projects range from creating wildlife openings and forest thinning to invasive species treatment. These management techniques increase wild turkey brood rearing, foraging and nesting habitat, while providing numerous benefits to other species.
These projects aimed at NWTF’s mission to conserve the wild turkey will also amplify its ability to deliver the other half of its mission, the preservation of our hunting heritage.
“Preserving our hunting heritage is an integral part of our mission,” Hinkle said. “We have a lot of great programs in the state aimed at getting folks in the woods. These habitat improvements will greatly improve accessibility and opportunities.”
One such project is NWTF Arkansas’ award-winning Wounded Warrior Hunt, where the NWTF collaborates with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Freedom Defenders Outdoors, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and others to host a weekend of fellowship, healing and the outdoors for the Annual Veterans Hunt at Choctaw Island WMA in southeast Arkansas.
Be it the Wounded Warrior deer hunts, the numerous other outreach events and hunts or all the great habitat enhancement work occurring throughout Arkansas, it is safe to say the NWTF mission is alive and well in the Natural State.
To learn how you can make a difference in NWTF’s conservation and hunting heritage mission in Arkansas, contact Jeremy Everitts at Jeveritts@nwtf.net
To purchase a quail or turkey conservation stamp, visit www.agfc.com and click the buy license|check game button.