ARKANSAS CITY (AGFC) – Nine miles of nature trails, a newly paved parking area and an access road will be dedicated at the Freddie Black WMA and Deer Research Area East Unit at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 8.
The WMA is in Desha County near Arkansas City. The public dedication ceremony will be at the access ramp to the Rocky Hole Trail Head.
The nature trails at Choctaw Island were made possible through funding from the Arkansas Recreational Trails Program, through the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department. The total cost of the project is $36,000. The AHTD provided $30,000 and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission provided the remaining $6,000. More than 9 miles of primitive trails are open to foot traffic. The AGFC manages these trails on 7,600 acres of public land inside the levees of the Mississippi River.
A new paved road provides access to the trails at Choctaw Island, and a new parking area will add convenience for visitors. The $303,765 road and parking area were largely funded through a federal grant from the Delta Regional Authority.
“I’m grateful for the completion of both of these projects,” said Arkansas House of Representatives Speaker Designate Robert Moore of Arkansas City. “The trails, made possible by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, will ensure local residents and visitors can enjoy the unique wildlife and beautiful natural scenery here for many years to come, and thanks to the Delta Regional Authority, folks will have convenient and easy access to the area.”
The WMA provides birding opportunities and is an excellent site to look for migratory song birds, including bay-breasted warblers, golden-winged warblers, Philadelphia vireos, black-billed cuckoos and other birds.
The area also supports nesting habitat for species that are hard to find in the state, such as least bitterns, king rails and common moorhens. Look for species such as roseate spoonbills, wood storks and black-bellied whistling ducks in late summer.
Fall provides a great opportunity to view bald eagles, migrating waterfowl and shorebirds as they begin their annual treks to their winter habitats. It is one of the best times of the year to experience the WMA.
During this time, hunting opportunities include squirrel, as well as bowhunting and early muzzleloader hunting for white-tailed deer. The WMA is considered one of the better “big buck” areas in the state.
The WMA was dedicated in 2009 in honor of former commissioner Freddie Black of Lake Village. Black, chairman and CEO of Simmons First Bank of South Arkansas, was appointed to the Commission in 2002, replacing former commissioner Marion McCollum of Stuttgart. His term expired in June 2009.