Use of all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles and off-road vehicles are now prohibited on Cherokee and Jim Kress wildlife management areas.
The ban began on July 1.
Hunters with valid Cherokee or Jim Kress leased-land permits are allowed to use ATVs, motorcycles or bicycles on open, maintained roads during an open hunting season only while traveling to or from a camp or hunting location.
Permits for the areas are $20 and a permit must be purchased for each area. A permit is not required to use state or county roads in the two areas. Youths under 16 are not required to have permits, which are valid for one year from the date of purchase. Maps of leased properties are provided by the AGFC when permits are purchased.
Ricky Chastain, AGFC assistant chief of wildlife management, briefed commissioners in February on negotiations with Green Bay Packaging Inc. about land the AGFC leases, including Cherokee and Jim Kress WMAs in north-central and west-central Arkansas.
Green Bay requested that the AGFC address four issues, beginning with a ban on ATVs. The company also asked that dogs for deer hunting and dog training be banned on the leased land. Green Bay also asked for improved control of trash dumping and littering, and the prohibition of off-road vehicles in closed areas.
"We want to continue our cooperative relationship with Green Bay so that we can provide public hunting opportunities in those parts of the state," Chastain told the Commission.
AGFC Director Scott Henderson reinforced the point that if these issues were not addressed, the company would not lease the land to the AGFC.
"They are graveyard serious that we help manage this area and abide by their requirements," Henderson said. "We need the cooperation of the public to help us address these issues. We hope the hunting public will understand we have to meet these concerns."
Commissioner Sheffield Nelson said the agency might have to increase penalties in the area. "This is a last-gasp sort of thing or we may lose this public area," Nelson said.