A land exchange to provide additional acres for public access on Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area was approved recently by commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. In its regular monthly meeting in December, the Commission approved the exchange with Triple H Farms, Inc.

The land exchange involves 160 acres owned by the AGFC and 155.5 acres owned by Triple H Farms. The AGFC land is appraised at $560,000 while the Triple H Farms property is valued at $625,000.

One of the 80 acre tracts owned by AGFC is completely surrounded by private property with no public access. The entire acreage to be obtained by AGFC from Triple H Farms, Inc. adjoins Bayou Meto WMA and will be accessible by the public. The swap does not include any additional compensation.

The Commission also approved a budget increase of $10,000 to begin construction of the first part of the Little Missouri Walking Trail project in Pike County. The project was approved in 2010. The current available funding is $88,000, with $40,000 of that amount coming from the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department. Project bids were received with the low bid of $97,550. The budget increase will make up the additional money needed to begin construction.

The Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area is located approximately 48 miles southeast of Little Rock, 22 miles northeast of Pine Bluff, and 15 miles southwest of Stuttgart, according to Keith Stephens, chief of communications for the AGFC.

The area can be accessed by two major highway systems, U.S Highways 79 and 165.

The area is approximately 33,700 acres in size lying in a north-south elongation. It is primarily surrounded by agricultural cropland and represents one of the most significant sized bottom land hardwood tracts still remaining in the state.

The Bayou Meto Water Management Plan, established in 2008, establishes procedures for all water level management activities on the Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area. It documents the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s operation of water control structures, provide a system of accountability, and result in a more effective means of managing water levels.

"The primary purpose of the water management plan is to provide practical guidelines for professionally managing water on 15,715 acres of green tree reservoir and 1,154 acres of shallow water waterfowl rest area habitat within the Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area, while minimizing any negative impacts to private lands immediately adjacent to the area," Stephens said.