“The Ozark National Forest High Priority Restoration Project xis a critical tool for us to maintain our way of life here in the Ozark Mountains. It is putting people to work providing recreational equipment, outdoor sporting opportunities, mom and pop stores, and forest resources.” Martin Blaney
Martin Blaney’s first memories of northern Arkansas were as a child fishing with his grandpa and visiting with his family in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in the Arkansas River Valley.
“It’s a place where in some respects, it has not changed that much with time,” he says.
Today Martin lives in between the Ozarks and the Ouachita mountains, and for the past 27 years has been working to keep his memories alive as a wildlife conservationist. His role today with Arkansas Game and Fish accomplishes habitat restoration and management, providing wildlife benefits across the landscape for the people of Arkansas.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” says Martin. “The forests have provided a place for me, my family, and my career for years.”
Martin is a strong supporter of the Ozark National Forest and has been engaged as a conservation partner in the effort to restore the forest and its wildlife.
“The Ozark National Forest High Priority Restoration Project is a critical tool for us to maintain our way of life here in the Ozark Mountains. It is putting people to work providing recreational equipment, outdoor sporting opportunities, mom and pop stores, and forest resources.”
“It is my hope that one day my own grandchildren will be able to share this place with their own families,” offers Martin. “I am thankful the Ozark National Forest HPRP is helping make this hope come true.”
The Ozark Highlands Ecosystem Collaborative project is one of the High Priority Restoration projects funded outside of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program. The dense forests and open woodlands of the Ozark Highlands are important for a variety of wildlife species, including elk, turkey, Bachman sparrow, Ozark Chinquapin, and the federally endangered Indiana and Ozark Big-eared Bats.
Through thinning and controlled burn treatments, the project is expanding elk habitat and hunter opportunity, while also making this unique American forest more resilient to wildfire, drought, insects, pollutants, and climate change to maintain the area’s value for people, water, and wildlife across the 217,892-acre High Priority Restoration (HPRP) project.