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Joined: 30 Jun 2006
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Location: Yell County
Post #1  Post subject: AGF to drop long partnership with diverse group of sportsmen
PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 12:21 pm 
A tornado destroyed some long standing structures on Camp Robinson this spring and now G&F is proposing not only to not rebuild them but to also withdraw their long time partnership with the large and diverse groups of hunters and sportsmen who have used that area and those facilities for over 50 years. G&F Administration is now all of a sudden saying those groups activities on the Camp Robinson area doesn't meet G&F's Constitutional mandate. Huh?

Excerpt from G&F's May 2014 Commission meeting:

Camp Robinson User Groups — Johnny Taylor
Johnny Taylor came forward to represent the Arkansas Amateur Field Trial Association, which is the pointing dog field trial group that uses Camp Robinson. Taylor thanked the Commission for allowing an opportunity to present and visit about the recent destruction that was caused by the tornado at the Camp Robinson Special Use Area on April 27. Taylor then introduced other user groups who are heavily involved with Camp Robinson also. Jim Myers, representative of the archery and bow hunters interest who has utilized the facility for 50 years. Kenneth Bunbick, represents the coon hunting interest, Larry McMurry and Steve Schroder who represent the retriever interest and Dave Hampton who represents the beagle interest.

Taylor noted that sportsmen in Arkansas have suffered an incredible loss. The tornado cut a wide swath through the timber with a direct aim at the major headquarters facility of Camp Robinson. Taylor pointed out that every loss was significant, but their greatest loss was the iconic club-house that was built in 1955. The club-house has served as a gathering place for entire user groups on the Camp Robinson area. That club-house was a part of the history and heritage of every person who has ever utilized that area.

Taylor then pointed out the importance of what that iconic building meant to so many. On behalf of the user groups, Taylor noted there are probably more questions than answers in regard to exactly what the rebuilding plans will be.
Taylor urged and made a plea to the Commission to take a serious and hard look at restoring Camp Robinson to its original structure. Taylor said that facility was a jewel and is regarded in the sport of field trial pointing dogs to be the number one facility in the sporting dog world. Taylor said it means so much, to so many and stands in a class of its own.

Taylor said it would be an injustice and a shame if it was not restored to its original form. Taylor then stressed that is their mission to appeal to each Commissioner that as decisions are made, consider restoring the structure to its original form with emphasis on that iconic club-house. That club-house captures an ambiance, a feeling that has never been captured. Taylor said it enhances and adds to the quality of every event that has ever been held at the facility.


Below is an article by outdoors writer Bryan Hendricks published in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette a couple of days ago containing G&F's response to the groups request mentioned above : ... posed-201/

Groups that use the Camp Robinson Special Use Area near Conway fear that the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is abandoning them as the agency considers revising its public use policy for the area.

The commission wants to get out of the field trial business at the 4,029-acre outdoor activity site, said Ricky Chastain, agency deputy director.

The commission approves of field trials at Camp Robinson, but it is inappropriate for the agency to support them with money, resources and manpower, Chastain said.

The agency loses money maintaining the area for field trials, and field trial habitat is the opposite of wildlife habitat, he said.

"If you look at our mission statement, it's about wildlife conservation," Chastain said. "Nobody can go out there and look at those courses that are maintained for recreational activities ... and misinterpret that as wildlife habitat."

The commission is considering revisions to its use policy and wildlife management plan as a consequence of the tornado that destroyed large parts of Mayflower and Vilonia on April 27.

The tornado destroyed a clubhouse that was a popular meeting spot for groups that hold events on the Camp Robinson site. The storm also destroyed a horse barn, dog kennels, other structures and a large amount of timber.

The proposed policy revision recommends not rebuilding the clubhouse, the horse barn or the dog kennels. It also recommends not rebuilding the area manager's residence and demolishing two damaged storage buildings.

The plan further recommends ending the wildlife agency's intense participation in servicing bird dog field trials, and that has some groups concerned. A field trial is a competition for sporting dogs, including bird dogs, raccoon dogs and rabbit dogs.

Johnny Taylor of Little Rock, who represents the Arkansas Amateur Field Trial Association, said the Camp Robinson Special Use Area is America's premier field trial facility and attracts participants from across the country.

The clubhouse, which Taylor and others say was built by private individuals and was donated to the commission in the 1950s, was the central meeting place for field trial participants and other users.

Rebuilding the clubhouse is one of Taylor's main concerns because it symbolized the sporting culture that gravitated to Camp Robinson, he said.

The only place to gather now is a dilapidated pavilion with an unsound roof that has exposed rebar and chunks of concrete missing from the pillars.

The slab foundation of the clubhouse has been removed.

Users, including Taylor, believe the commission will build an office in its place. The revised use plan calls for building a new work center and office.

Groups that regularly use the Camp Robinson area include the Arkansas Bowhunters Association, field trial enthusiasts and horseback riders.

Taylor said the proposed policy revisions feed a perception that the commission wants to abandon its traditional constituents by disassociating itself from field trials.

Chastain disagreed.

"Field trials and bird hunting are two different animals," Chastain said. "They have different objectives and different purposes."

The plan presented to the commission at its June 19 meeting in Texarkana recommends discontinuing the practice of buying pen-raised bobwhite quail to release for field trials and the practice of assigning commission personnel to release, feed, water and care for released quail. The plan also calls for no longer providing a special wagon to carry bird dogs during field trials and no longer assigning commission personnel to operate the dog wagon during field trials.

The proposal also calls for changing the management plan for the area to provide "good quality wildlife habitat rather than providing groomed field trial courses."

Camp Robinson supported wild quail a long time ago, Chastain said, but the continuous pressure of being pointed and flushed during field trials drove them out. The only quail on those areas now are domestically raised birds that were set free for field trials.

The commission spends about $22,000 a year on quail and bird food for the birds that are released for those events, Chastain said.

Taylor said the expense is justified because wild quail no longer exist in great numbers in Arkansas. The commission should stock quail so that pointing-dog enthusiasts may enjoy them, he said, comparing it to stocking fish in lakes for anglers to catch.

Field trial rules prohibit shooting quail during an event, Taylor said. Participants are not allowed to have live ammunition on a course.

"It's catch-and-release 'hunting,'" Taylor said.

"We're talking $134,000 [total] out of an $88 million budget. It's nothing," Taylor said. "They stock fish in lakes, rivers and ponds all over this state for people to catch. They have this one place to release quail. This is it. Here, and at Blue Mountain, but Blue Mountain is an entirely different situation."

Some elements of the revised Camp Robinson management plan might also be implemented at Blue Mountain Special Use Area near Booneville, Chastain said.

Chastain said that attempting to re-establish quail with liberated birds is universally discredited among professional wildlife managers.

Commission staff members contribute about 100 working days to field trials and related activities, Chastain said. That includes mowing fields of thick grass and planting food plots.

The agency intends to discontinue field trial course maintenance in favor of restoring native habitat, which Chastain said is more hospitable to quail, rabbits, deer and other wildlife. That includes more aggressive use of prescribed burns and timber harvests, he said.

Under its current management regimen, Chastain said, every dollar the commission spends at Camp Robinson for manpower, pen-raised quail, seed, fertilizer and tractor fuel comes from state money.

The federal government does not reimburse the agency because of restricted uses at Camp Robinson, like field trials and organized horse riding events, and also because the federal government does not reimburse costs for stocking pen-raised quail, Chastain said.

The commission gets federal funds for other wildlife management areas.

The agency also doesn't get revenue from participants in sanctioned field trials because they are not required to have Arkansas hunting licenses, Chastain said.

The commission's revised plan calls for instituting a fee schedule for activities at Camp Robinson. Chastain said that might include requiring campers to pay fees to park recreational vehicles on the trailer pads, which have water and electrical hookups.

Users might also be required to pay activity fees for organized events, and equestrians might be required to pay a fee to use the newer horse barn that was not damaged in the tornado.

Taylor said he thought user fees would be appropriate and that most users would be willing to pay reasonable amounts.


What are your thoughts on this deal? I don't mind giving you mine. I'm appalled and don't like it one bit that G&F is willing to support birdwatchers and wildlife viewers and furnish the money to build hiking trails, some in our own pristine WMAs, but are no longer willing to support the hunting related activities of this diverse group of hunters on Camp Robinson. And like the man said above, G&F stocks fish for people to catch so why can't they continue stocking quail for dog trials on Camp Robinson? Somebody tell me what the difference is in relation to G&F's Constitutional Mission?

Assistant Director Ricky Chastain says supporting those groups in such a manner is not part of G&F's mission. Apparently Chastain and the rest of G&F Administration doesn't fully understand their Constitutional mission, or considering how they've operated since they fell into millions of dollars of sales tax money, could it possibly be that they're just like Obama and change their Constitutional mission at will to suit their own personal agendas of the moment?

Like for instance, where does it say that building birdwatching hiking trails on our hunter paid for WMAs and building hiking trails all across the state is part of their mission, while supporting true wildlife conservationists like ALL of Arkansas' hunting community is not part of their mission? Where does it say their DMap program is within their Costitutional bounds? If G&F Administration somehow considers G&F birdwatching trails on our hunter paid for WMAs and G&F paid for hiking trails all across the state as being part of their mission then why shouldn't supporting these field trials and archery activities at a continued high level on Camp Robinson not at lthe very least be considered Educational and covered under their Constitutional mandate?

Hey I'll give Chastain his more than shaky wildlife conservation argument, but only if he'll declare that G&F's continued high level support of these groups activities on Camp Robinson can and will still be covered under G&F's Educational mandate.

G&F Administration has this one as wrong for Arkansas' hunting community as wrong can be. They support a company with our money called SurveyMonkey that gives part of our money to the largest anti-hunting organization in the country plus now they're wanting to pull their support for a large diversified segment of our wildlife conserving hunting community? This is simply about MONEY having nothing to do with their Constitutional mandate. Plus its yet another example of their Obamaian ways when it comes to their Constitutionally mandated mission and their obvious and ongoing gravitation away from Arkansas' hunting community in favor of their newly found non-hunting bed partners like hikers and birdwatchers and backyard butterfly enthusiasts, to name just a few.

But hey, I'm in no way against hiking and hikers or birdwatching and birdwatchers, and I love watching butterflies too. I just believe our non-hunting State Parks is where G&F should be spending their non hunting money while our hunter paid for WMAs should be reserved for hunting. And in that same simple common sense vane, I believe all hunting related activities on Camp Robinson should continue to receive the high level of G&F support they've received for the last 50+ years.

So, what say you about this move by G&F Administration to withdraw support of these diverse sportsmen groups on Camp Robinson after supporting them under their Constitutional mandate for the last 50+ years? A Constitutional mandate, by the way, that although now changed and expanded by G&F Administration at will whenever neccesary to suit their own personal agendas, hasn't been legally changed since it's implementation back on July 1, 1945....

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Post #2  Post subject: Re: AGF to drop long partnership with diverse group of sportsmen
PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 12:58 pm 
Hey you might be onto something. Just what are they doing with the money anyway?
What about the other monies gas lease, and timber sales?

Seems they want all the conservation groups to fund habitat improvement on public land while they fork out resorces to private land holders. Some of the National Forest regions are doing a great job on management. You want to see a wildlife agency spending money on habitat just drive North to MO. No wonder their public turkey, and duck hunting areas put Arkansas to shame.

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Post #3  Post subject: Re: AGF to drop long partnership with diverse group of sportsmen
PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 1:42 pm 
You're right about our public land Yhunt. Since the sales tax amendment passed they throw money and support at private land while only throwing crumbs at private land . That info is contained for all to see within their own budget. In fact, some of the old time G&F biologists have told me directly that they chose to retire instead of buying into G&F Administrators private land management agenda at the expense of public land. They also said it got to the point where field biologists didn't have any more voice in how G&F Administrators manage game and spend the people's money than we do... :smack:

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Post #4  Post subject: Re: AGF to drop long partnership with diverse group of sportsmen
PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 5:18 pm 
The AGFC is out of control and out of focus when it comes to he hunting community ,, bad part i dont see anyway to change their warped direction

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Post #5  Post subject: Re: AGF to drop long partnership with diverse group of sportsmen
PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 8:49 am 
My first question is for the destroyed buildings/facilities were they insured? If not will they file for federal assistance money that is available? If so that money should go back to where it came from!! If it was not insured or no federal assistance is awarded and they (AGFC) choose to give the bird again to Arkansas Sportsman this is just another sign how out of touch the AGFC is with the majority public of Arkansas and gives me one more reason to not to support them! I will support any movement to strip them of their power!!!! :thumb:

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