PONCA (AGFC) – First came the vacation. Then, the staycation. Now comes a newly coined concept, the conservacation. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Ponca Elk Education Center and the nearby Boxley Valley elk herd have been named one of the top 25 spots in the country for viewing elk and their habitat.
The conservacation is a vacation focused on conservation, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is recommending the area as one of its top educational destinations where families can experience and enjoy learning about elk, other wildlife and their habitat.
About 450 elk reside near the education center along the Buffalo National River. Exhibits at the nature center outline elk history, biology and restoration efforts. There are various activities for all ages, a hiking trail, gift shop and picnic facilities.
"With summer upon us and many families thinking about a getaway, we're pleased to suggest the Ponca Elk Education Center," said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. "This is a place worth visiting any time of year, but it really comes to life when elk are rutting. That's when visitors are most likely to see these animals up close and possibly observe a spectacle of nature they'll never forget—hearing an elk bugle for the first time has inspired many a new conservationist."
Of course, hearing a turkey gobble, watching a whitetail doe and fawn, and countless other experiences can have the same effect. That's why RMEF has long provided funding for educational sites and projects across the U.S., in and out of elk country, says Allen.
Elk are present near the Buffalo River along Arkansas highways 43 and 21 in Boxley Valley. The best times for viewing success are at dawn and dusk when the elk frequent the grassy fields along the highways, but be alert, it is common for elk to cross highways. And don't forget your binoculars and camera.
For more information on the education center, call 870-861-2432 or go to http://www.agfc.com/education-class/agfc-edu-nature-centers/education-centers/ponca-elk.aspx.
For potential elk hunters, the public land elk permit applications are being accepted online through June 1. To apply, go to http://www.agfc.com/hunting/elk/season-dates-elk.aspx. No paper applications will be accepted.