Salem, AR -(Ammoland.com)- Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife officer Sgt. Scott Watkins recently received the prestigious Waterways Management Award presented by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.
Watkins received the award at the 55th annual NASBLA conference held in Bar Harbor, Maine. Watkins was one of many nominees from across the country including other fish and wildlife agencies, law enforcement agencies with harbor or marine patrols and the U.S. Coast Guard.
The waterways management award recognizes exemplary commitment by an individual or a team effort by federal, state or local government, or an organization involved with waterways management. Efforts include facilitating navigation, public safety or access in ways that reduced conflicts, enhanced the recreational boating experience for waterway and shoreline users, or minimized the risks to natural resources. Methods can include education, technical assistance, regulation enforcement or other policies or programs.
Watkins was recognized for his efforts to reduce violations and minimize risks to the natural resources on the Spring River in north central Arkansas. Excerpts from the nomination include:
The most common perception regarding boating enforcement in Arkansas is associated with large Corps of Engineers lakes and violations such as boating under the influence, floatation devices, wake zones and registration. Spring River patrons don’t operate motor boats, but rather canoes, kayaks and rafts. Common violations associated with this type of boating are alcohol, drugs, glass containers and littering.
The Spring River is known locally as a trout stream, but nationally as a “party” destination. In 2009 Tru-TV filmed an episode of Party Heat entitled “Rowdy River” on the Spring River featuring Arkansas wildlife officers and their efforts to control the problems associated with alcohol, drugs and disorderly behavior. Cosmopolitan Magazine also listed the Spring River as a top 10 party destination.
During the past five years, Watkins and AGFC wildlife officers across the state have reduced the number of criminal arrests by 34 percent and AGFC arrests by 38 percent by implementing a variety of enforcement strategies and techniques. Watkins is charged with the planning, implementation and supervision of law enforcement assignments along the upper Spring River.
Watkins said the recognition reflects well on the officers that volunteer to work the river and their commitment to make the Spring River a place that can be enjoyed by all outdoor enthusiasts.
About The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC)
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission plays an important role in keeping The Natural State true to its name. During the last 100 years, the agency has overseen the protection, conservation and preservation of various species of fish and wildlife in Arkansas. This is done through habitat management, fish stocking, hunting and fishing regulations, and a host of other programs.