Burns, Elk, Logging in Federal Forest Irk Some

DEER, AR - The U.S. Forest Service uses logging and controlled burns to reshape areas in the Ozark National Forest from what rangers describe as overgrown regions into more meadowlike lands.

But some opponents to the burning of tens of thousands of acres a year say that runoffs from the burns will damage soil and streams.  They also warn that elk reintroduced to Arkansas forests have become a nuisance to farmers, ranchers and other animals.

Logging with burning covered about 70,000 acres this federal fiscal year in the Ozark Forest.  Similar methods are used in the Ouachita National Forest.

Searcy County Judge John Hinchey believes people living near the Ozark Forest are left out of forest management calculations.

In September, the Searcy County Quorum Court declared that any elk causing private property damage is a public nuisance that could be shot.  The animals are protected by the state Game and Fish Commission, which issues a limited number of tags for annual fall hunts.

Hinchey says no one's fired a shot under the ordinance yet because the first one who kills an elk will likely face legal repercussions.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)