Arkansas’ fabled flooded timber needs help
By T. Edward Nickens/Ducks Unlimited
Photo by Vincent Parsons/flickr
Arkansas’s storied green-timber duck hunting heritage is at a crossroads. To put it plainly, the human-manipulated flooded forests that have sustained a half century of waterfowling’s finest flooded-timber duck hunting are dying. Through a combination of natural and man-made factors, the woods are being flooded earlier, and are holding more water for longer periods of time, than ever before. The result is vast swaths of trees with anemic crowns and leafless branches. Trees that have rotted, weakened root systems and blow over in storms. The slow, inexorable creep of water-tolerant species that offer little food for ducks. And low regeneration—in many cases, little to no regeneration—of young trees.
For the legendary flooded-timber hunting of Arkansas, the future is as full of challenges as the past has been of gilded green-headed glory. For decades, greentree reservoirs—or GTRs—have provided waterfowlers with everything they could possibly dream of in a duck hunt: easy access, stunning scenery, close shots, and ducks on top of ducks. Now it might be time for duck hunters and other wetland conservationists to return the favor and work for a future in which these majestic flooded forests can thrive and inspire awe in waterfowlers 50 and 100 years from today.