Wildlife Department Secures Illinois River Front Property

Saturday, September 16th 2006, 7:16 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has purchased a 320-acre tract of riverfront property along the lower Illinois River that will secure the site for future generations of Oklahoma sportsmen.

The acquisition is the agency's first using Hunting and Fishing Legacy Permit money, donated funds from the Oklahoma Wildlife Federation and Sport Fish Restoration funds.

``This is a unique property which encompasses almost a mile of the Illinois River trout stream and it is very exciting that we were able to secure it for future generations of anglers,'' said Kim Erickson, chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Located in Sequoyah County between Lake Tenkiller and the town of Gore, the 320-acre area will continue to provide access to trout anglers and will also offer hunting opportunities beginning in 2007.

In the coming months fisheries and wildlife biologists will begin work on stream habitat and wildlife habitat improvements, access improvements for anglers and hunters and new public fishing and hunting regulations for the area.

Most of the property's cost was paid by sportsmen through the Sport Fish Restoration program. Fishing tackle, as well as boat trolling motors, are subject to special federal excise taxes which help fund conservation efforts around the country. Federal fuel taxes attributed to motorboats are also directed toward conservation.

Last year, the Oklahoma Wildlife Federation gave the Wildlife Department $200,000 for purchasing land for fish and wildlife conservation and over $125,000 was used for this purchase.

Finally, the agency tapped purchase money from the Hunting and Fishing Legacy Permit, a program passed by the Legislature in 2004.

``Fishing is a way of life to so many Oklahomans and since so many anglers have been so supportive of the Hunting and Fishing Legacy Permit it is only fitting that we were able to make this purchase on their behalf,'' said Greg Duffy, director of the Department of Wildlife Conservation.

``I'm confident that over time this will become a real crown jewel of our public fishing and hunting areas,'' Duffy said.