Hunting on Arkansas Natural Areas – by Michael D. Warriner
By Guest Contributor
Hunting on natural areas
Many people have the mistaken assumption that once a piece of land is designated as a “natural area” that it must be left alone. Along with activities such as hiking and bird-watching, specific types of hunting are allowed on natural areas. In an effort to make natural areas accessible to a broader segment of the public, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) entered into a cooperative agreement with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) in 2004 (the agreement was updated this year). In this agreement, select natural areas were incorporated into that agency’s Wildlife Management Area system.
Every effort has been made by the AGFC to provide maximum opportunity, maintain safety, protect healthy wildlife populations, and adhere to the conservation values inherent to the ANHC’s System of Natural Areas. Since several natural areas are now considered AGFC WMAs, they will also receive the same level of attention from AGFC enforcement staff as do other WMAs. Consequently, all applicable hunting regulations will be enforced on natural areas where hunting is allowed. AGFC officers will also keep tabs on the general condition of natural areas in their respective zones, serving as another set of eyes for the ANHC.
ANHC lands where specific types of hunting are allowed include:
Falcon Bottoms Natural Area, which consists of over 2,700 acres of bottomland hardwood forests along Bayou Dorcheat in southwestern Arkansas.
Big Creek Natural Area (Jim Kress WMA), in north-central Arkansas, protects over 1,500 acres of diverse upland forests along with a portion of Big Creek itself, a tributary of the Little Red River.
Warren Prairie Natural Area, at 2,128 acres, is a mix of saline barrens, post oak flatwoods, and pine woodlands in southern Arkansas.
A complete list of natural areas where hunting is allowed is given at the end of this article. Note that some natural areas exist within the bounds of larger AGFC Wildlife Management Areas.
The specific type of hunting allowed on each natural area varies, so please check the AGFC’s 2008/2009 Hunting Guidebook before visiting one of these sites. Also, some areas have limited access and it is the hunter’s responsibility to obtain permission to access adjacent private landowner’s property. Travel within natural areas is limited to foot traffic to minimize erosion and disturbance to sensitive habitats. Motorized vehicles, horses, camping, and construction of permanent deer stands are prohibited on natural areas. To learn more about Arkansas’s System of Natural Areas, visit the Natural Areas Locator Map. There you will find natural area descriptions, driving directions, and maps for all natural areas within the System.
Arkansas Oak Natural Area (Poison Springs WMA)
Benson Creek Natural Area
Big Creek Natural Area (Jim Kress WMA)
Cache River Natural Area (Rex Hancock Black Swamp WMA)
Cherokee Prairie Natural Area
Coffee Prairie Natural Area (Beryl Anthony Lower Ouachita WMA)
Cove Creek Natural Area
Cut-off Creek Ravines Natural Area (Cut-off Creek WMA)
Devil’s Knob-Devil’s Backbone Natural Area
Falcon Bottoms Natural Area
Garrett Hollow Natural Area
Goose Pond Natural Area (Ed Gordon Point Remove WMA)
H.E. Flanagan Prairie Natural Area
Holland Bottoms Natural Area Willow Oak Forest Preserve (Holland Bottoms WMA)
Iron Mountain Natural Area
Kings River Falls Natural Area (Ozark National Forest WMA)
Miller County Sandhills Natural Area
Moro Big Pine Natural Area-WMA
Nacatoch Ravines Natural Area
Pine City Natural Area
Poison Springs State Forest Sand Barren and Oak-Pine Forest Preserve (Poison Springs WMA)
Railroad Prairie Natural Area
Rock Creek Natural Area (Harold E. Alexander Spring River WMA)
Roth Prairie Natural Area
Seven Devils Swamp Natural Area (Seven Devils WMA)
Singer Forest Natural Area (St. Francis Sunken Lands WMA)
Slippery Hollow Natural Area
Smoke Hole Natural Area
Stateline Sandponds Natural Area
Sweden Creek Natural Area
Terre Noire Natural Area
Warren Prairie Natural Area
White Cliffs Natural Area
Wittsburg Natural Area
– Michael D. Warriner
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