The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Region recently recognized Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison for his “commitment and dedication to fish and wildlife conservation.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service flew Ellison to Atlanta in December to accept the 2013-2014 Regional Director’s Conservation Award.
He was recognized along with Mark Whitmore, AAC’s chief legal counsel; Ricky Chastain, assistant deputy director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; and Chris Davidson, team leader of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Arkansas Ecological Services Field Office’s Endangered Species Program.
They were recognized for their efforts with the Arkansas Unpaved Roads Program, established in 2013 to formulate cost-effective and proactive solutions to manage eroding roads that otherwise would wash harmful sediment in streams, rivers and lakes. The program is a partnership among the AAC, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, the Arkansas Forestry Service, the Arkansas Forestry Association, Farm Bureau of Arkansas, the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, the County Judges Association of Arkansas, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the University of Arkansas.
“The unpaved working group certainly appreciates the members of the Arkansas General Assembly that shared our vision that recognized the opportunity to stop potential litigation and the closure of additional roads and trails in the state. This important legislation establishing the Arkansas Unpaved Road Program will support local tourism economies vital to many rural counties,” Ellison said.
Act 898 of 2015 created the Arkansas Unpaved Roads Program Fund and created an avenue for counties undertaking unpaved roads projects to receive grants from the state. Sponsors of the legislation were state Senators Missy Irvin, Bill Sample and Jon Woods, and state Representatives Douglas House, David Branscum, Clarke Tucker, David Hillman, Dan Douglas, Justin Boyd and Warwick Sabin.
Ellison, a native of Mena, represents the County Judges’ Association of Arkansas on AAC’s board of directors. He has held Polk County’s highest administrative seat since 2011.