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RESPONSE FROM DU, No RESPONSE YET FROM AGFC

I appreciate you contacting Ducks Unlimited with your concerns regarding Bayou Meto WMA and Halowell Reservoir. You are correct that DU and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, together with the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, worked to develop and implement a plan to transform Halowell Reservoir into a state-of-the-art moist soil wetland complex. The purpose for this restoration was to provide a reliable source of high-quality moist soil vegetation (food) for waterfowl to utilize during winter months. Extensive research by many of the country’s greatest waterfowl scientists has shown that native waterfowl foods found in moist soil impoundments are some of the most limited foods available to ducks during fall and winter migration, while at the same time are some of the most important foods necessary to allow ducks to maintain body condition during the winter and to prepare for spring migration and subsequent breeding efforts. These moist soil areas provide critical nourishment that cannot be met by agricultural crops alone. Additionally, agricultural crops are already in abundant supply throughout the Bayou Meto basin (and throughout the Mississippi Alluvial Valley), thus planting a few more acres of rice or soybeans wouldn’t significantly add to the food availability, and especially wouldn’t address the shortage of moist soil habitat.

You are correct that Missouri does plant some areas to corn. This management method is designed to provide carbohydrate-rich foods that ducks need during the rigors of migration – especially on cold winter days. Once ducks reach Arkansas, they find the same carbohydrate needs in our flooded bottomland forests – a habitat type largely missing in Missouri. Many people are not aware that the Missouri Department of Conservation is one of the most aggressive agencies managing for moist soil habitat anywhere in the country. Most of their public waterfowl areas have been restored years ago to provide similar habitats to what is found at Halowell and other WMA’s in Arkansas.

As for the numbers of ducks using Halowell, I can only offer that I’ve personally witnessed thousands of ducks using the area over the past few years. I’ve witnessed fluctuations in numbers based on weather as you might expect. In fact, I’ve taken several media groups to Halowell in recent years to view the restoration – and the ducks. I contacted the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission regarding any data they might have on duck numbers. The data they collect is designed to meet scientific rigors, and thus are based on transect flights across Bayou Meto and other areas, and not just a count of Halowell. Their data do reflect seasonal fluctuations in numbers based on water and weather conditions, as you’d expect – similar to what you see at Halowell. Area biologists did state that the high water levels and unseasonably mild weather has resulted in fewer ducks using the area recently, but that several thousand ducks were currently using the moist soil units (perhaps due to water levels dropping in the White River, forcing ducks to move to other habitats?). One thing I’ve personally witnessed is seeing maybe a few hundred ducks flying over the area – but then having the opportunity to actually drive around Halowell to inspect our work and the habitat conditions – and flush literally thousands of ducks that I’d never have seen from the observation tower. I’m not inferring that this occurs all the time, but just that often moist soil areas are used much heavier than realized because you can’t see through the vegetation.

I’ll have to defer your questions on specific management of Halowell and Bayou Meto to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (e.g. flying millet along the bayou’s in the WMA, or timing of millet planting in Halowell). As the landowner and manager, AGFC has the responsibility and authority for management of habitats on public-owned properties. As their partner, DU works closely to help restore habitats to provide the most effective and efficient management capabilities.

Both Ducks Unlimited and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission are committed to providing high quality waterfowl habitat for our ducks – and our duck hunters. As a DU member and volunteer, I hope you understand and appreciate that management efforts must focus on meeting all the biological needs of waterfowl during winter and spring migration. We certainly want to enjoy them while they are here – and that is one goal of our habitat restoration efforts, but we must also ensure that they have the necessary resources to prepare for the rigors of spring migration and nesting. Research has clearly shown that the quality of habitat on the wintering grounds influences breeding success the following spring. Our efforts at Halowell Reservoir – and other areas throughout Arkansas – are designed to meet these needs.

I apologize for the lengthy response, but felt you deserved as full an explanation as I can offer. If you have other questions, please feel free to contact me. I’ll do my best to provide the most accurate information I have – or direct you to where you might find it.
Thanks for all you do for the ducks!!

Craig Hilburn
Manager Conservation Programs
Ducks Unlimited








Message:

Ducks Unlimited was involved in the restoration of Halowell Rest Area at Bayou Meto Arkansas several years back. Since that time, the ducks just dont use it like they used to. In recent memory there were always mallards tornadoeing into Halowell, but since the wet soil units were put in the Ducks have vanished. Seriously, now there are only about 250 ducks using it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a high water year or low water year, because we’ve had both the last 2 years and Hallowell has held very few ducks.

Does Ducks unlimted monitor the effectiveness of their projects; the amount of Ducks using it, the amount of food actually produced, or cover produced? The number one indicator I would think would be the actual ducks using it. This project appears to be a failure in my eyes and many others. The moist soil units do not attract nor hold mallards. What can be done about this? I have talked to other state members and they have suggested that DU plant Corn like they do in Missouri.
Why does Ducks unlimited not plant any agriculture varities in Halowell? Can it be done next year and the years following? Millet was used on about 100 of the 640 acres, but it was flooded before it headed out. Can something be done to better plan when the millet will be planted? Can corn and beans be planted? Can buckbrush be manipuated into growing there as it once did?


Is there a program available where millet could be flown into the WMA, and broadcast up and down the sloughs and ditches. Bayou Meto is not what it used to be due to the new moist soil units. For Bayou Meto to be the shooting grounds it was 5 years ago, something needs to be done. I am currently in contact with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, but can Ducks Unlimted also get the ball rolling to do something to these moist soil units because they are not working. Please Ducks Unlimited, come take a look at what Halowell has become since the inception of the Moist Soil Units. It is a mere shell of what it used to be 4 years ago before these units were put in.
I realize it cost millions of dollars to install, but it has inherently made the hunting terrible in bayou meto. So really it was all in earnest. Hopefully this may cause someone to swallow their pride and hopefully implement a new plan that actually attracts and holds ducks and not just looks good on paper.



It Doesnt appear Mr Hilburn saw it in the Glory years, or During Duck Season. So Halowell now is the Spring food supply, no longer a Duck Magnet Ever Again
 

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Moist soil units are a f...... Joke! I hate them and I personally refuse to support du in any shape form or fashion for the parts they have had implementing these into Arkansas. I can name several moist soil units that have ruined the areas that once held many many ducks. Slaty crossing, black lands. One at Cain creek. These things will hold birds at roost but that is it!!! I had a biologist tell me when they first started these that they are great! He said they keep water on them year round and there would be so much food for the ducks! Invertebrates, lots of vegetation. But guess what, they only flood these things a couple weeks before duck season so you end up with a flooded grass field with absolutely no food for ducks.
 

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moist soil units work.....but you still have to plant food in them
Show me once place where ducks sit on natural or "moist soil" over planted or agri operations. They are few and far between..... DU seriously overstates ducks preference for "natural" food/cover.


I'll continue to maintain that AGFC would have done much better to precision level or zero grade the area and grow crops.
 

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I hunted the upper part of Govt Cypress this past Saturday and di not see a single Mallrad "working" the woods. we heard no stop shhoting in the fields around there. The ducks are simply not using the timber and are staying in the fielads, and I don;t think is because of moist soil units....
 

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RESPONSE FROM DU, No RESPONSE YET FROM AGFC


Is there a program available where millet could be flown into the WMA, and broadcast up and down the sloughs and ditches.

It Doesnt appear Mr Hilburn saw it in the Glory years, or During Duck Season. So Halowell now is the Spring food supply, no longer a Duck Magnet Ever Again

I keep hearing this, but what would flying Millet onto BM do? Millet is already an invasive weed across much of the delta...... flying it onto BM to wash down a ditch isn't going to do anything.


Halowell isn't why the ducks come to BM.....but it wouldn't hurt if it was properly managed.
 

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Show me once place where ducks sit on natural or "moist soil" over planted or agri operations. They are few and far between..... DU seriously overstates ducks preference for "natural" food/cover.


I'll continue to maintain that AGFC would have done much better to precision level or zero grade the area and grow crops.
broadwater.....north of 7 mile....multiple places along cache have crp/soil units that hold ducks....like i said....they work but the ones that works have FOOD planted in them such as beans....read the whole post
 

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i work for a farmer in winchester and he has some bottom lands inside a old break and weve killed more ducks on it when i was a kid but i dnt get to hunt it anymore but what im saying is that every summer we go in there and disk the holes up that they hunt and then after that is when we stop the pipes up and if we havto we will pump some water into it and it is usually in the late september to early october!! and every year theres ducks in there!! oh and its all natural vegitation that is in there!!!
 

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broadwater.....north of 7 mile....multiple places along cache have crp/soil units that hold ducks....like i said....they work but the ones that works have FOOD planted in them such as beans....read the whole post
The whole point is the beans....... ducks like that easy food.


DU seems to think that ducks like those little seeds from weeds and grass over beans, corn and rice. We've all seen fallow fields holding water that got moderate duck use at best vs. bean/rice fields nearby with heavy duck use..... even with modern crops/combines that waste little.
 

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The whole point is the beans....... ducks like that easy food.


DU seems to think that ducks like those little seeds from weeds and grass over beans, corn and rice. We've all seen fallow fields holding water that got moderate duck use at best vs. bean/rice fields nearby with heavy duck use..... even with modern crops/combines that waste little.
I agree....what the moist soil unit off its a natural habitat which is fine....just plant something inside the natural habitat....like a food plot system inside of the units
 

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I keep hearing this, but what would flying Millet onto BM do? .
Well it adds a readilly available consumable abundance of easily discovered palatable food for ducks.

I can tell ya it does crazy things to the woods.... For example adds thousands of ducks to anotherwise desolate locale. Especially when its added in there so thick that its visible on top of logs (dont try this at home). Thats when its about get unrealistic nasty like you cant even imagine many as star in the fryin sky on a 5 degree blue bird night on the sippi levee.
 

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Well it adds a readilly available consumable abundance of easily discovered palatable food for ducks.

I can tell ya it does crazy things to the woods.... For example adds thousands of ducks to anotherwise desolate locale. Especially when its added in there so thick that its visible on top of logs (dont try this at home). Thats when its about get unrealistic nasty like you cant even imagine many as star in the fryin sky on a 5 degree blue bird night on the sippi levee.
So you want the government to break its own baiting laws in BM?

It would be cheaper and easier just to plant the Millet on the rest areas and grow it..... they are never going to fly stuff onto hunting areas....
 

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So you want the government to break its own baiting laws in BM?

It would be cheaper and easier just to plant the Millet on the rest areas and grow it..... they are never going to fly stuff onto hunting areas....
if they do plant in the rest areas then y would the ducks have any reason to leave the food and the luxury of the rest area!! i dont c how that would help!! and i no that theres alot of ducks that dont ever leave the rest area but adding food to it would give them more reason to stay!!
 

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if they do plant in the rest areas then y would the ducks have any reason to leave the food and the luxury of the rest area!! i dont c how that would help!! and i no that theres alot of ducks that dont ever leave the rest area but adding food to it would give them more reason to stay!!
It is normal for a duck to move some during the day....... only the really smart ones sit in one spot all day...... and they've got to dodge hawks.
 
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