Woodpecker Viewing Station Goes Up in Smoke

JUNE 10, 2005 - Posted at 4:14 p.m. CDT

BRINKLEY, AR - A wildlife-viewing area on the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission's Dagmar Wildlife Management Area has been burned to the ground as the apparent result of an arsonists' work.  The viewing area was an abandoned railroad trestle that was under renovation to accomodate birdwatchers in the wake of the recently discovered rare ivory-billed woodpecker in the Cache River bottomlands of eastern Arkansas.

The fire occured last week, but Game & Fish officials did not formally release any information about the fire until this afternoon.

Wildlife officers were called to the area on the afternoon of June 3, when a contractor who was working on the bridge arrived at the scene to discover the fire.  The 380-foot bridge was fully engulfed in flames when game wardens arrived.  A criminal arson investigation is underway by the Arkansas State Police.

Meanwhile, the Game & Fish Commission is discussing ways to rebuild the viewing station, and a $1,000 reward is also being offered for anyone with information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.  Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Game & Fish office in Brinkley at 870-734-4581 or 877-734-4581.