In a short meeting of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission recently, commissioners renamed a newly purchased section of Searcy County land after former commissioner Sonny Varnell of St. Paul.
The Richland Valley property is part of the Gene Rush Wildlife Management Area.
The property is southwest of the town of St. Joe near the National Park Service's Woolum Access to the Buffalo National River.
The land is west of Richland Creek and encompasses a portion of the Ozark Highlands Trail.
It will be known as the Sonny Varnell Richland Valley Elk Conservation Area. Varnell was appointed to the commission by former Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2003. His term expired July 1, 2008.
The Commission also approved the donation of two bull elk permits for the 2009 September elk season to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
The permits are auctioned and the money returned to the AGFC to be used in elk habitat improvements, public education and research.
More than $450,000 has been raised since 1998 from the auction of the two permits, with 85 percent of that amount returned to the AGFC. One permit is auctioned during the annual Arkansas RMEF banquet, and the second is auctioned at the group's national banquet.