State of play and post filled fish; Tappan, a habitat restoration enthusiast, appointed to the panel


Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday appointed Philip Tappan of Little Rock to a seven-year term on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Tappan, 60, the youngest of five brothers, was born and raised in Helena. He graduated from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in 1983 with a degree in finance and banking.

Tappan has spent much of his career in the food distribution industry, owning a controlling stake in Quality Foods Group and being Chairman from 2003 to 2005. Since 2004 he has been Chairman of Tappan Land & Water, which owns natural resource properties in several counties in Arkansas.

In addition, Tappan has served on the Boards of Directors of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the Arkansas Community Foundation, and the Arkansas Food Bank Network.

Hutchinson said Tappan’s leadership experience and background in public service make him an effective addition to the board. Tappan’s passion for hunting and fishing will also resonate with the state’s outdoor community, added Hutchinson.

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“Philip has a real passion for the outdoors and for hunting and fishing,” said Hutchinson. “It’s a one-person measure. Then it’s their understanding of the need for conservation and the responsibility we have for our incredible natural heritage.

“Philip’s business experience is particularly timely for our situation with the Game and Fish Commission. There are business decisions to be made, as well as recruiting new hunters and anglers in Arkansas, and passing them on to the next one. generation.”

Tappan said that as a fourth-generation Arkansan raised in the Mississippi Delta, hunting and fishing are rooted in his personal fabric. The outdoor lifestyle, he said, is fundamental to the culture and economy of the state.

“I have been fortunate throughout the seasons of my life that Arkansas’ natural resources remain the cornerstone of my existence,” Tappan said.

“Today I’m probably more of a duck hunter and a turkey hunter, but I still enjoy all the other activities.”

Tappan said he experienced something of an epiphany in 2006 when he and his partners considered listing a property in the Wetland Reserve Program, a federal program that pays landowners to maintain natural wetlands.

“We’ve heard that George Dunklin is doing innovative things,” he said.

Dunklin, from Stuttgart, served on the Game and Fish Commission from 2005 to 2012. He is also the former Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ducks Unlimited and owner of Five Oaks Duck Lodge.

“I contacted George and a few days later we were walking around with him learning about soil handling, undergrowth mulching, water control, and planting extra food,” Tappan said.

“I was bitten by habitat restoration. It started a whole new phase of life, which continues today, learning how to improve habitat for the benefit of wildlife. “

Tappan said the experiment demonstrated the connection between wildlife and habitat, proving that wildlife requires more than undeveloped land to thrive.

“I spent time farming and working outdoors when I was younger, but it was farming of a different kind,” Tappan said.

“I started to see the importance of replacing the inputs that we took away as humans, like recreating the texture of the terrain to accelerate the benefits to wildlife.”

Tappan said he grew up hunting squirrels and bobwhite quail in the fields and hills around Helena.

He said he was aware of the immediate issues facing quail and wild turkeys in Arkansas, but said those hurdles may actually be symptomatic of broader issues.

“From a global perspective, we need to understand what’s going on with all avian species, including the decline of songbirds,” Tappan said.

“These problems could be parallel to the decline of turkeys. We need to do more research, but I don’t think we can wait to find an approximate cause to make significant fixes.”

On Tuesday, Tappan attended a visit to the Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area, much of which is inundated. Game and Fish Commission staff, including waterfowl biologist Luke Naylor, organized the visit to show committee members, lawmakers and wetland advocates the destruction that prolonged flooding has inflicted on hardwoods in the shallows in the popular duck hunting area near Stuttgart.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Tappan said. “When you think about how hot it was and always having this kind of flooding of our forests. I listened to every word Luke said when he spoke to us, but what’s happening in Bayou Meto is happening too in many private lands.

“As we educate the public on the dilemma facing our public lands, I hope we will continue to prescribe solutions for private landowners as well. I really think what’s going on is a bigger perspective than the Bayou Meto and the hurricane. [Lake WMA]. “

Tappan said joining the commission along with a new director, Austin Booth, is a key transition period during which the commission can accelerate what he described as a current level of achievement.

He said budget constraints, extreme weather conditions, changing waterfowl migration patterns, chronic wasting disease in deer and elk and declining turkey populations will continue to challenge the Game and Fish Commission.

On the flip side, Tappan said, it’s crucial to tackle challenges today rather than trying to tackle them yesterday.

“You don’t have to be sick to get better,” Tappan said.

“I think this applies to the transition of Game and Fish with a new director and a new commissioner. I’m not criticizing anything we’ve done in the past, but I’m looking to improve myself even more.”

Tappan said he believes the commission should continue to prioritize hunting and fishing not only as management tools, but as societal foundations.

“I think hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits are life’s most experiential learning exercises, and I think the woods are the most healing places on earth,” Tappan said.

“It’s nothing like raising children, of course, but the amount you can learn in such a short time by sharing hunting and fishing experiences with another person in the outdoors is exponential compared to this. that you learn about them and about the trade.

“There have been many, many hunts where I can’t remember if I had a big hunt or an average hunt, but I do remember who I hunted with.”

“I have been fortunate throughout the seasons of my life that Arkansas’ natural resources remain the cornerstone of my existence,” Philip Tappan said Thursday after being announced as the new Arkansas Game commissioner. and Fish. More photos at (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Staci Vandagriff)


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