By Ronnie Weston| June 21, 2012 at 3:36 PM CDT - Updated June 27 at 8:35 AM
CONWAY (AGFC) - To help offset deep cuts in public conservation funding, Resources First Foundation, a non-profit organization, has unveiled a new free resource for private landowners. It is called the Arkansas Conservation Center.
This latest addition to the on-line RFF "toolbox" gives private landowners and service providers working in Arkansas a unique, interactive information marketplace. With just three clicks, landowners can now access a database of conservation districts, land trusts, biologists, equipment suppliers and tax consultants. Service providers can advertise their services and map their service area, free of charge.
This web portal provides a simplified gateway to a vast listing of federal and state programs available to landowners and land managers in Arkansas. Listings and articles describe the mechanics of FSA, NRCS and Forest Stewardship programs, conservation easements or tax credits, and the pros and cons of various options. Site visitors can find information and direct links to more than 200 foresters and other professionals serving Arkansas. They'll find new ideas to help boost their income, as well as innovative tools for a broad range of ranch, farm and forest best management practices.
This new Arkansas Center becomes part of a resource portfolio that includes state centers for California, Maine and Mississippi and the Houston Conservation Center, along with RFF's flagship Private Landowner Network and the Conservation Tax Center.
RFF President Amos Eno explains that "Our new Arkansas Conservation Center is our most comprehensive to date, thanks in large part to outstanding assistance from two key Arkansas state agencies – the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Forestry Commission." Funding for the Arkansas Conservation Center was provided by The Walton Family Foundation.
Conservation communications consultant Gregg Elliott, a contributor to the Arkansas center, says "RFF's information platform gives landowners the tools they need to be better stewards of the land, more profitable business people, and more savvy consumers of technical expertise. For example, our Wildlife and Habitat Management section offers science-based guides on how to improve habitat for northern bobwhite quail, wood ducks and other waterfowl, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and amphibians and reptiles." Elliott adds that the center's Natural Heritage Tourism section offers landowners a wealth of income-generating ideas, while at the same time offering "eco-tourists" worldwide information about all they can see and do outdoors in Arkansas - also known as The Natural State.
This new resource will give farmers, cattlemen, and woodland owners the latest news updates that can benefit them directly. A timely example is the information detailed on the Arkansas Programs page, which provides an update on the revised Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, or CREP, and links to a local analysis explaining how increased CREP payments compare favorably with existing land use receipts in order to improve water quality in the Illinois River.