Yell County Wildlife Federation, Arkansas Tech University Fisheries and Wildlife Society and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission recently worked to improve the wildlife habitat in Petit Jean River Wildlife Management Area of Yell County.
The team gathered for a day of work Feb. 22, removing undesirable trees on both open land and forests to aid in habitat management.
Craig Davis, the commission’s senior technician assigned to the management area, said the work helped tremendously.
“We had 18 volunteers come out with axes, bow saws, trimmers and chain saws to remove these undesirable trees and brush from some of our open land habitats,” Davis said.
At 15,542 acres, Petit Jean River Wildlife Management Area represents the largest remaining expanse of bottom-land hardwood forest in the Arkansas River Valley. The area also includes many acres of uplands filled with pine and hardwoods typically found in the Ouachita Mountains.
The project priority is maintaining open habitat for quail, deer, rabbits and migratory birds.
“We strive to keep the area as diverse as possible,” Davis said. “So regular use of prescribed fire and removal of undesirable tree species is important. With the fertile soils here, we have to burn very regularly to keep up. This work will help us stay on track.”
Davis said the partnership between Game and Fish, Yell County Wildlife Federation and Arkansas Tech has taken place for five years.
“They’ve helped with planting trees to create a buffer between open areas and roads, helped maintain existing gates and helped install gate posts to prevent people from driving trucks and abusing handicapped-accessible trails. They’ve cleared fire lanes to help prepare the area for prescribed fire treatments,” he said.