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The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission honored one of its former commissioners by adding Kirk Dupps’ name to Northwest Arkansas’s Beaver Lake Wildlife Management Area adjoining Devil’s Eyebrow Natural Area. The unanimous vote to recognize Dupps with this honor was held in a special meeting Oct. 5. The official announcement was held at Tuesday’s special Night of Conservation event held in Garfield with Dupps and family present.
Beaver Lake sprawls 73 miles from Fayetteville, north to its dam near Eureka Springs. It is two miles wide at its widest and has approximately 450 miles of shoreline. The 8,007-acre Beaver Lake WMA encompasses the lake and includes all of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land surrounding the lake.
Dupps, of Eureka Springs, was appointed by Gov. Bill Clinton and served a seven-year term on the commission beginning in 1992. Dupps helped plan the successful promotion and passage of the Amendment 75 Conservation Fund approved by Arkansas voters in November 1996 and put into effect 1997. The trout fishery on the White River below Beaver Dam is a lasting legacy for him. He spearheaded major habitat improvements and more stocking of fish as well as the establishment of catch-and-release fishing areas on the White River.
Before his term as commissioner ended, Dupps was appointed a member of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through an appointment by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. He became head of NFWF’s critical species section, a role that led to his involvement with the overall and long range plan for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker recovery and its low-land habitat where he served as a member of the Executive Committee. Dupps was a member of the NFWF for years and served as vice chairman.
Dupps was the Founder of the Acres for America program and was able to persuade Walmart to donate $35 million to put one acre of land in conservation for every acre they had ever developed or would develop in the future. These dollars have funded hundreds of projects nationwide including a number in Northwest Arkansas such as Smith Creek Nature Preserve in Boxley Valley, 3,017- acre Devil’s Eyebrow Natural Area and many parcels on the Kings River including the most recent Rockhouse Creek acquisition linking the McIlroy Madison County WMA and other Kings River properties that now connect approximately 23,000 acres in conservation.
In 2005 Dupps was presented the Conservation Hero Award by The Nature Conservancy in recognition of his outstanding support of conservation in The Natural State. In 2020, Dupps was honored with a lifetime conservation achievement award presented by David Bernhardt, Secretary of the Interior and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. He has long been an active supporter of numerous conservation organizations and is a Life Sponsor and member of the Feather Society of Ducks Unlimited.
Chairman of the Commission Bobby Martin conveyed that he “does not know of anyone more deserving of this honor. Kirk Dupps’ impact to conservation is profound and the initiatives he helped continue to build a legacy around opening up public land recreational opportunities and conserving wild things and wild places.” Director Austin Booth affirmed that commited Arkansans like Dupps are vital to The Natural State staying true to its name.