The donation coincides with the Wal-Mart FLW Tour's 2006 Wal-Mart Open powered by Tyson, which was held April 5-8 on Beaver Lake in Rogers, Ark. At the event, the FishAmerica Foundation and Castrol administered a conservation program through which wristbands - signifying support for the preservation and restoration of America's great fisheries - were sold for a minimum of $1 each, and proceeds were donated to local conservation efforts.
"We're wanting to do an upscale natural-habitat project," said Ron Moore, district fisheries biologist with the Northwest Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
A total donation of $7,053 - including $553 from wristband proceeds, a $1,500 donation from FLW Outdoors on behalf of the National Guard and each day's leading pro angler, and $5,000 provided by FLW Outdoors through the FishAmerica Foundation - will go toward the cost of transporting and deploying materials used for fish habitat in the lake. Moore said FLW Outdoors' donation may be matched through federal Sportfish Restoration funds, which would double the scope of the project.
The focus of the project will be restoration of fish habitat through deployment of such natural cover as trees, stumps and brush. Specifically, the donation will provide the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission with funds for transportation of these materials plus the operation of specialized barges for introducing the cover to appropriate areas of Beaver Lake.
"It logistically makes it a whole lot easier to get stuff out there," Moore said of the barge, which is equipped with a winch for loading, a dumping deck for deployment and extra floats for carrying capacity.
After several years of introducing fish attractors built from PVC pipe through donated funds, Moore said the commission wanted to start introducing more natural habitat, partly because the artificial habitats become targets of theft during low-water periods. He said the commission aims to hire contractors to handle the job later this summer into early fall, "upping the scale of the project with materials that the fish are a little more attuned to anyway."
The next opportunity to support the FLW Outdoors and FishAmerica Foundation conservation program is at the FLW Tour's fifth event of the season, to be held May 10-13 on Kentucky Lake in Benton, Ky. All donations received at the tournament presented by Pedigree will benefit a local fishery.
FLW Outdoors is an organization devoted to giving something back to the communities that host its tournaments. As it has in the past, FLW Outdoors will continue to donate a minimum of $5,000 at each of its seven FLW Tour events in 2006 as well as at a variety of its other tournaments.
FLW Outdoors has also committed to giving $14,000 on behalf of the National Guard and leading FLW Tour pros to the lakes and rivers hosting tour stops in 2006. A $500 donation will be made in the name of the pro leading any given day of a tournament, for a total of $1,500 aiding the host fishery at each tournament. Then a $5,000 donation will be made at the 2006 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship in the name of the pro who led the most days throughout the season. In 2000, FLW Outdoors announced its partnership with the FishAmerica Foundation, the conservation arm of the American Sportfishing Association. Since then, FLW Outdoors has directly donated more than $285,000 and helped to generate more than $1.7 million for local conservation projects.
"It's our job to ensure that we leave a fishery in better condition than when we arrive," said Charlie Evans, president and CEO of FLW Outdoors. "We do this by maintaining an extremely high live-release rate and by contributing funds for conservation efforts in the host cities where our tournaments are held. Our long-term relationship with the FishAmerica Foundation demonstrates our commitment to continually improving America's finest waters."
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, Stratos Owners' Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series. These circuits offer combined purses exceeding $36.9 million through 241 events in 2006. FLW Outdoors also recently announced the addition of a striped bass circuit, which will debut this summer.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.