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Game and Fish facilities ‘down and out for the count’

By Tammy Keith

This article was published May 11, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

the-arkansas-game-and-fish-commission-camp-robinson-special-use-area-at-331-clinton-road-in-conway-was-heavily-damaged-by-the-april-27-tornado-four-buildings-were-destroyed-as-well-as-more-than-300-acres-of-timber

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Camp Robinson Special-Use Area, at 331 Clinton Road in Conway, was heavily damaged by the April 27 tornado. Four buildings were destroyed, as well as more than 300 acres of timber.

CONWAY — An Arkansas Game and Fish Commission field office in Conway was hit by the April 27 tornado that ripped through Faulkner County, destroying buildings and timber at the site.

Matt Mourot, assistant regional supervisor for the Wildlife Management Division, said eight of 15 buildings at 331 Clinton Road were damaged or destroyed.

“The tornado was a direct hit,” he said. “One building was taken to the slab; it was a shop and tractor shed. We actually completely lost four buildings: We lost a horse barn completely; we lost a shower house, or restroom facility, on the campground; and we lost our clubhouse.”

Also damaged were a residence and storage buildings.

“We lost over 300 acres of timber,” said Mourot, who works out of the Russellville office. “That area is 4,000 acres. The Camp Robinson Special Use Area — that’s where the damage is.”

He said 100-plus acres of timber were destroyed on the public-use facility in the April 2011 tornado.

“It’s a significant loss,” he said of the 300 acres.

“However, Mother Nature will rebound, and it will fix itself.

Mourot said Game and Fish officials met with adjusters, but a dollar amount for the damage won’t be available for “a couple of weeks.”

Because it was a Sunday night when the tornado hit, no one was in the buildings.

However, one residence on the property was damaged, but the man who lived there had gone to a tornado shelter when the tornado came, Mourot said.

“It may be a total loss,” he said of the home. “[The resident] is kind of like a tenant of ours; he lives on the area and takes care of it.”

The Camp Robinson Special Use Area is known for its bird-dog field trials. “That’s what has a long history,” he said.

In addition to hunting, other activities on the state-owned property include archery tournaments, fishing, because “people also access Lake Conway from the area,” and “it’s known for wildlife viewing,” Mourot said. “You could still hunt out there, but as far as our facilities, they’re down and out for the count.

“Employees are still carrying on with our typical wildlife-management activities — mowing, disking and planting food plots, as well as cleanup. We’ve had some volunteers, and we will rely on contractors moving forward for cleanup.”

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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