PARIS, Ark. (Arkansas Game and Fish Commission) – An Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Wildlife Management Area is contained within a National Forest and also includes a portion serving as an Arkansas State Park. It features nearly every type of popular game species and many observable birds and non-game animals, not to mention the spectacular views and the highest point in the entire state. Mount Magazine WMA offers a getaway for the hunter, fisherman, wildlife watcher, hiker, occasional driver or vacationer looking for the perfect weekend getaway.
It also includes one of the most beautiful stretches of freeway in all of The Natural State. Arkansas Highway 309, running mostly northwest to southeast, crosses the western third of Mount Magazine WMA and connects Paris on the northern end to Havana on the south. Highway 309 is known as the Mount Magazine Scenic Byway. Paris and Havana are in valleys that sandwich Mount Magazine WMA. The WMA is part of the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, overseen by the US Forest Service.
“It’s unlike any place in the National Forest,” said Kevin Lynch, Fort Smith-based AGFC regional supervisor and director of Mount Magazine WMA. “There are large flats and hard drainage areas throughout the region. Huckleberry Mountain and Rich Mountain are at the east end. WMA is a little in between everything. The Arkansas River and the Little Jean River have had an effect on the geology. It’s so cute. There are elements of the Ozarks and Ouachita National Forests.
The USFS entered into a cooperative agreement with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in 1975, similar to other agreements around Arkansas where the AGFC manages wildlife on federal lands, such as White Rock and Bearcat Hollow WMA.
“A lot if these areas had already been managed as deer sanctuaries by the federal government for many years,” Lynch said. The longtime AGFC biologist also praised the working relationship he has had with the Mount Magazine Ranger Office in Paris over the years.
“The relationship (between the USFS and the AGFC) has been invaluable,” says Mindy Lawson, who served as a Forest Service biologist in Paris for 10 years until her recent retirement. “Kevin and I talk every week, for example, about projects like our native grass restoration work.”
The WMA has extensive gated food patches in the area to improve wildlife habitat, especially for deer and turkeys.
“Last year we treated the north side, about 135 plots, and this year some of them were full of clover,” Lynch said. “We do a lot of plots. We have the area divided into north and south quadrants with openings for wildlife. Last fall, we hit 122 food plots on the south side in cooperation, Game and Fish, and the Forest Service. … There are all sorts of (invasive) species getting into these plots that we don’t need. We can’t do them all at once, but we’ll do everything we can.
Mount Magazine is a turkey hunter’s dream destination, but can get crowded. A level area offers a quieter hunt in season for those who want to put on their hiking shoes for a bird. Outside of turkey hunting dates from mid-April to early May, the walk-in area has a closed gate from April 1 to June 1. higher quality hunting,” Lynch said. “It’s foot traffic only, no bikes, a unique walking area.”
Next summer, 36 plots in the Huckleberry Mountain Pedestrian Area will be sprayed and they will be planted in the fall, Lynch said.Mount Magazine overlooks the view in the fall
When the Commission revitalized bobwhite quail restoration efforts four years ago, parts of the Mount Magazine WMA became hotspots for quail. These areas have seen the removal of cedars and mulching to create better habitat for quail; money from cedar lumber sales goes back into the ground, Lawson says, and the open canopy encourages hardwood seedlings. Native grasses were also planted. These areas also benefit deer, turkey and other species.
“We say we don’t plant the trees and grasses for the hunters, we do it for the wildlife, but they bring the hunters in,” Lawson said.
Quail, who apparently followed the early settlement on Mount Magazine as some plots were cleared, is persisting on the WMA, Lynch said. “I found birds every time except once when I was in this area. The quails are there. We hope that others will colonize these areas.
Another large area that is not actually included in the quail aggregation areas is a 1,200-acre section developed cooperatively by the AGFC and USFS for quail restoration. Lynch says all funding will come from ongoing commercial sales of pine, hardwood and cedar in the district. “The area is divided into thirds and will be burned on a three-year rotation,” Lynch said. “Prescribed burning and other treatments are on the way, so full implementation is a few years away. It will provide a good habitat for quail, turkey and more. This is a Forest Service stewardship project. We call it the Calico Project; locals know it as Calico Mountain.
Lynch says an average of four to five bears are harvested each bear season. “It is a closed canopy forest. There is no high density area, but they are there. You are unlikely to see a bear while driving like you would in White Rock.
But those driving on Highway 309 are very likely to see deer, and possibly a turkey. Also, there are eagles on Cove Lake on the north side, just outside of Paris heading south. While there may not be sightings of nests around the lake, Lynch says the area has “a high-density eagle nesting area heading towards the Arkansas River.”
The rufous-crowned sparrow is unique to Magazine, Lawson said. Although Mount Magazine lacks karst areas like in northern Arkansas, bats will visit the area, including some long-eared bats, she said. Look for them at the top of the mountain in the crevices. For visitors looking for the little things, the stingray snail (or Magazine Mountain medium-toothed snail) is endemic to the mountain and is the first invertebrate ever removed from the federal endangered species list (it was listed as threatened in 1989 but its population recovered by 2013). Also, the orange-and-black American beetle is a resident, although it is listed as threatened.
The WMA has two large lakes which are popular attractions during the warmer months. Cove Lake is the larger of the two and the closest to Paris, just off Highway 309. It hosts regular fishing derbies, including an annual Rotary Club event for 34 years, and is stocked with catfish from river, black bass and good crappie fishing. . Spring Lake on the southeast end is best known for channel cats and redear. Cove Lake offers paddle boat and kayak rentals, and motorboats can access both lakes, though USFS rules prohibit speeds over 10 mph.
Equestrian trails, hiking trails and much more await the adventurer. There are 18 campsites available on the 120,000 acres. Then there’s the 2,234-acre state park, which includes Mount Magazine Lodge. However, when you enter the state park proper, no hunting is permitted.
You are likely to be greeted by mist descending on the lodge at some point during the day, but when it is clear the views are spectacular. Blue Mountain Lake and its WMA are easily visible to the south in the valley, as well as the city of Havana. Vacancies in the lodge are often scarce during the usual holiday months, so plan well in advance.
A few meters north of the station is Signal Hill, which rises to 2,753 feet. Visitors will also notice that the temperature here is about 10 degrees cooler (on average) than in Paris or Havana.