Arkansas Outdoors

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Fans of the outdoors in central Arkansas are likely familiar with the distinctive peak of Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Now, just slightly west of the park, a 373-acre tract of land is part of the state System of Natural Areas.

The Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area was originally owned by Lee and Beverly Bodenhamer, who reached out to Nature Conservancy of Arkansas Director Scott Simon in an effort to preserve the land. The Nature Conservancy handed the land over to the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, which is part of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

There’s a new superintendent at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Josh Jeffers was named to the post on Monday, which administers more than 2,300 acres of wetlands, prairies, forests, and of course – Pinnacle Mountain. Jeffers says he intends to focus his energies on attracting youth from diverse backgrounds in Little Rock schools.

Stan Jones Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Following two years of interviews for the job, Governor Asa Hutchinson appointed Stan Jones to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Tuesday. Jones, a fifth-generation farmer and hunting lodge owner from Walnut Ridge, applauded previous efforts by the commission to promote the outdoors in Arkansas.

“I know we’ve got some difficult situations and issues that we’re going to have to face, but I’ve got a very positive look and attitude on everything, the Game & Fish [Commission] has done a good job, and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Jones said.

The National Park Service is turning to goats to help rid Hot Springs National Park of invasive plants that are growing in areas where herbicides can't be used.

Beginning Tuesday, Hot Springs National Park will employ a herd of goats to manage invasive plant services for five weeks. Shelley Todd is the park's natural resource program manager. She says the goats will eat the plants in a three-acre field that was planted with pine trees about 10 years ago. 

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission officers say they're investigating a video being circulated on Facebook that purportedly shows a deer being beaten with a textbook.

Officers said Friday they believe the video was made in Arkansas by three Georgia residents and one Arkansas resident. Agents say they've questioned one of the individuals and plan to get statements from the other three within the next two days.

The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism is getting its first new executive director in 25 years. Kane Webb was named to the post by Governor Asa Hutchinson on Thursday to succeed Richard Davies.

Webb is a former journalist and native Arkansan. He also comes straight from the governor’s office. Webb credits his background in communication and journalism as preparing him to promote the state’s destinations. The previous parks and tourism head also studied journalism before entering the department.

State Rep. Jim Sorvillo (R-Little Rock)
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Commercial dog breeding would be subject to inspections and require a license under a bill to be taken up Friday morning in the state House Agriculture committee.

Republican Representative Jim Sorvillo sponsored the bill and said the measure will help bring Arkansas’s protections up to par with neighboring states.

“What we don’t want is an animal that stays in a cage confined from six months to eight or ten years and that’s all they do,” said Sorvillo.

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The Big Dam Bridge Foundation has exceeded its money-raising goal for the proposed construction of restrooms on the Little Rock side of the nation’s longest pedestrian and bicycling bridge. Mark Rogers, foundation chairman, says the 67,000 dollars raised thus far came both from individual donations and from the Big Dam Bridge 100, an annual bicycle race. He says many individuals have been willing to donate because the port-a-potties currently in place have developed a reputation for uncleanliness.

The Arkansas Department of Health has issued issuing a fish consumption advisory for bass taken from Lake Ouachita. The advisory comes after fish collected by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and tested by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality were found to contain levels of mercury that could be a health risk to humans.

The advisory warns that women of childbearing age; pregnant women; breastfeeding women and children younger than 7 should not eat largemouth or white bass that are 13 inches or longer or striped bass that are 25 inches or longer.

Andrew Parker
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Mike Beebe has named a former liaison to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to serve a seven year term on the panel.

At the announcement Wednesday at the Witt Stephens Central Arkansas Nature Center, Beebe said Andrew Parker has an ideal background for becoming a commissioner.

"A love for the outdoors, an understanding that hunting and fishing in Arkansas is a major past time, a major educational experience, a major family experience, a major economic engine and a corollary with the tourism that is so important for our state," Beebe said.