AGFC contracts for repairs to Spring River dam

LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – Commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission last week authorized Crist Engineers, Inc. of Little Rock to begin design of repairs to Dam 3 at the Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery. A flood in late April 2011 damaged the dam's gates, forcing the AGFC to make temporary repairs to the site.

Crist Engineers of Little Rock had already conducted a comprehensive study of the dam. They will now implement the findings and develop construction drawings for the renovation and restoration of the dam. The fee for Crist's consulting engineering services will be $159,420.

Damage to the gates, and the resulting lack of water pressure, caused the hatchery's trout production to decline. The hatchery produces 50 percent of the state's rainbow trout with most of the trout going to the Bull Shoals tailwaters in north Arkansas. In fiscal year 2012, the hatchery produced over 924,000 trout weighing in excess of 486,000 pounds.

In other business, the Commission:

*Heard a presentation from AGFC turkey program coordinator Jason Honey on the 2013 turkey brood survey. Honey said that the state's good weather and proper season structures have resulted in the best poult to hen ratio since spring 2002. Honey did warn that poor weather during the nesting and brood-rearing period during 2011 resulted in one of the lowest poult to hen ratios in history. The result may be a drop in harvest due to the lack of two-year-old birds.

*Approved commercial fishing regulations that will go into effect Jan. 1, 2013.

*Authorized AGFC Director Mike Knoedl, on behalf of the Commission, to enter into an agreement to purchase two 40-acre inholdings within the Harold E. Alexander Spring River WMA for $120,000. The purchase is contingent upon the AGFC successfully obtaining a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant to cover 75 percent of the acquisition costs.