By Wayne Shewmake, President, Arkansas
Arkansas Wildlife Federation (AFW), along with National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Rocky
Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), Arkansas Tech Fisheries & Wildlife Society, U.S. Forest
Service Ozark—St. Francis National Forest, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC),
National Wildlife Federation, and the National Forest Foundation (NFF), recently held a work
weekend at the Bearcat Hollow Project in the Ozark National Forest, Big Piney Ranger
This project is part of the stewardship agreement between all of these and other environmental organizations to enhance the habitat on National Forest area called Bearcat Hollow. This project is supported through an NFF grant to NWTF and AWF to improve the Bearcat Hollow habitat for fish and wildlife. This stewardship agreement includes Phase I, which is approximately 6,000 acres, with about 422 acres of openings planted for wildlife. Work on the project this year will almost complete Phase I of the project, which has cost about $1 million including all partner funds.
AWF, NWTF and RMEF hosted a work day on September 24 (National Public Lands Day) on the Bearcat
Hollow Project. We sent out emails and posted flyers to let everyone know about the work day. I
talked to the Arkansas Tech Fisheries and Wildlife Society about this project and asked for their
help. They responded with 17 volunteer club members for the work day, several camped out with us
and made a great weekend out of it. We could not have accomplished our work goal without their
We installed two gates on habitat openings to allow vegetation to grow for wildlife, we removed about a half mile of old fence wire and posts to prevent wildlife from getting entangled, we brush-hogged 58 acres (five fields) before we sowed seed by hand and ATVs. We did a deer spotlight count along with the USFS. We served breakfast, lunch and supplies to all who volunteered and for those who camped out with us. We were able to accomplish most of our goals and meet our objective to benefit wildlife. We had 50 volunteers who showed up to support the work being done on the Bearcat Hollow Project.For the ones who camped out, I know they really enjoyed themselves. They learned how to cook good food in an open fire pit, how to make a good dessert called a banana boat, as well as cobbler, on the open fire pit. They learned how to boil water in a paper cup, and we all shared stories of the past. We did get to hear an elk bugle about midnight on Saturday while sitting by the campfire.
I want to thank Forest Service employees Jim Dixon, Dwayne Rambo and Stuart Brazzel, AGFC’s Ray Wiggs, NFF’s Adam Liljeblad, NWF’s Geralyn Hoey, NWTF’s Dennis Daniels, and RMEF’s Sam Sneed for their leadership and support. I would like to say a special thank you to AWF board members Lola Perritt and Sharon Hacker for their help cooking for this group and Ralph Odegard for his help and support.
Phase II will begin next year, so make your plans now to come and help make a difference for wildlife.Watch a short video with photo highlights of the weekend here.