Ducks Unlimited, in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), recently acquired a 790-acre tract of farmland adjacent to the Arkansas River in western Arkansas. DU will transfer the title of this land to the state of Arkansas for the purpose of creating a new wildlife management area that will be accessible to duck hunters.

The AGFC will manage Frog Bayou Wildlife Management Area (WMA), which is located 15 miles east of Fort Smith, specifically for waterfowl migration and wintering habitats and for public waterfowl hunting. Craig Hilburn, DU director of conservation programs for the state, said Frog Bayou is one of a limited number of wetlands in the Arkansas River Valley.

The Arkansas River Valley is an important migratory corridor for waterfowl," Hilburn said. "Thousands of ducks and geese pass through each year, and many use the valley as a wintering ground as well. Because the valley is relatively narrow, there is limited wetland habitat available for waterfowl."

Ducks Unlimited, NRCS, AGFC, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and private landowners have made significant improvements to Arkansas River Valley habitat in recent years, including projects at McKennon Bottoms Waterfowl Area, Bob Young-Carbon City Waterfowl Rest Area, Potter's Pothole-Hartman Bottoms Waterfowl Area, Johnson County Waterfowl Rest Area, and Dyer Lake.

Wetland restoration practices are under way this summer to prepare Frog Bayou for the upcoming waterfowl season, and reforestation of the bayou to native bottomland hardwoods is slated for mid-winter.

Frog Bayou is the second recent wildlife management area DU has been instrumental in purchasing and restoring for Arkansas duck hunters. In 2000, the Steve N. Wilson-Raft Creek WMA was purchased and developed for waterfowl hunting. Raft Creek is a 4,000-acre WMA near Georgetown in White County. For a one page printable overview on the project, click here.