Why It Matters: Building on the Midwest’s recent themes surrounding voluntary conservation opportunities for private landowners, Arkansas’ recent investment of $3.5 million in the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s 2023 Conservation Incentive Program highlights the steps that states are taking to promote the conservation of our nation’s public trust resources on private property. In states like Arkansas where more than 90% of lands are held in private ownership, these investments are critical to the successful conservation of the resources that we, as sportsmen and sportswomen, hold dear.
- On October 17t, the Arkansas Legislative Council approved an appropriation request to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) for $3.5 million to support AGFC’s 2024 Conservation Incentive Program.
- The Conservation Incentive Program is a voluntary program that provides incentives to private landowners in exchange for conservation actions on their property. The program is also designed to serve as a pilot program to evaluate the need for a Conservation Tax Credit or similar incentive for private lands conservation.
- In addition to testimony from AGFC Director Austin Booth, Arkansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Representative Jeff Wardlaw and Senator Missy Irvin spoke in support of the appropriation.
Continuing the Midwest’s theme of promoting voluntary and incentive-based opportunities to support conservation priorities on private lands, the Natural State’s Legislative Council recently approved an appropriation of $3.5 million to support AGFC’s 2024 Conservation Incentive Program. During their October 17 meeting, the Council voted unanimously in support of the motion following testimony by AGFC Director Austin Booth. In addition to Director Booth’s testimony, Arkansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Senator Missy Irvin and Representative Jeff Wardlaw, Secretary of the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council, spoke in support of the investment.
AGFC’s Conservation Inventive Program, described by the agency as a pilot program to evaluate the need for a Conservation Tax Credit or similar incentive for private lands conservation, represents a novel approach to the challenge of promoting voluntary conservation on private lands subject to other interests. These investments echo those made at the federal level, largely through the Farm Bill’s Conservation Title. In Arkansas, opportunities funded through this appropriation range from promoting recreational angling access on private waters, to invasive species management (including feral hogs), to the active management and restoration of wetlands and forests.
In a state like Arkansas, where more than 90% of land is held in private ownership, these investments are critical to meaningful efforts to support the conservation of our nation’s public trust fish and wildlife resources. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) applauds the Arkansas Legislative Council for their approval of this request and thanks Director Booth and Co-Chairs Senator Irvin and Representative Wardlaw for their leadership.