Woodlands for wildlife

Working woodlands for wildlife: Begin with a plan JASPER (AGFC) – If you have a desire to make your land more attractive to wildlife, you'll be among a large segment of the Arkansas population.

Like the old baseball movie, if you build it, they will come. Better habitat for wildlife can be done on a large scale and also on a small scale, participants in a recent landowners workshop at Jasper heard. The workshop was a project of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas Forestry Commission.

The starting point is a plan for your land.

As a landowner, you may have an idea on what type of wildlife you want to attract, and professionals can be of significant benefit here. As diverse as Arkansas is, not all land is suitable for all kinds of wild animals and birds.

"We can help you make a plan," said Ruth Ann Gentry, a private lands biologist with the Game and Fish Commission. This service is free, and Gentry has counterparts in all areas of the state. A phone call to an AGFC regional office can be a starting point.

The private lands biologist will come out, look over your land, listen to your desires and put together a plan. Various options may be available for your choosing.

The biologist will also tell you straight out that there is no magic pill, not a secret seed to plant that will take care of all wildlife habitat needs. The straight talk will also include the hard fact than wildlife habitat improvement does not happen overnight. It doesn't happen in a year even. It is a long-range program with successive stages.

There is a strong chance the biologist will talk about using fire. "Burn my woods"? The suggestion may draw apprehension, but controlled burning is a prime tool used with much success by public and private land managers.

This burning is much more complex than raking up some brush and setting a match to it. Speakers at the workshop advised landowners to consider hiring a professional fire crew at least the first time for burning an area.

Another aspect is advising to plant a variety of vegetation that ripens at different times of the year. With the use of warm season and cool season plants, shrubs and grasses, the attraction to wildlife can be continuous.

To reach a regional AGFC private lands biologist, phone toll-free Beaver Lake 866-253-2508; Jonesboro, 877-972-5438; Brinkley, 877-734-4581; Fort Smith, 877-478-1043; Monticello, 877-367-3559; Mayflower, 877-470-3650; Calico Rock, 877-297-4331; Camden, 877-836-4512; and Hope, 877-777-5580.