Shale Play Produces a Financial Boon for Boy Scouts, Game & Fish Commission

by George Waldon  on Monday, Sep. 10, 2012 12:00 am  

John Carman, Scout executive for the Quapaw Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America: Shale Play revenue has "really been a godsend for us." (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

With the completion of facilities improvements, the distribution of natural gas revenue has shifted to 51 percent endowment, 42 percent annual operating expenses and 7 percent camp construction/repair. Building a sizable endowment fund as a long-term financial foundation was viewed as an important part of capitalizing on the uncertain ebb and flow of royalties.

"We're aware that gas revenue is a temporary situation," Carman said.

G&FC Royalties

Four years ago, the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission struck a $29.5 million deal to lease 11,500 acres in its Gulf Mountain and Petit Jean River wildlife-management areas.

The most lucrative part of that deal is a $28.3 million lease on about 4,000 of the 14,000 acres in the Scott Henderson Gulf Mountain Wildlife Management Area, about 12 miles southwest of Clinton.

This Van Buren County property was part of the $4.75 billion acquisition of Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s Fayetteville Shale assets in 2011 by Australian conglomerate BHP Billiton Ltd.

"Everyone thought it would be a super, super boom, but we were real restrictive in our leases," said Loren Hitchcock, director of the Game & Fish Commission. "We only granted access to the gas companies for certain times of year, working around hunting season."

About 99 percent of the money from the Chesapeake/BHP lease has been earmarked or spent, according to Hitchcock.

"The biggest thing that hasn't been spent is the $14 million set aside to retire a bond issue," he said. "The earliest we can do that is July 2014."

The windfall generated about $5 million spent on deferred maintenance items, about $4 million to purchase property across the state, $3 million for the Minimum Flow Project on the White River, $1.5 million to help pay for the Bayou Meto Project and $1 million to help fund the Arkansas Water Plan.

The Bayou Meto Project, overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has two main points of emphasis: conserving aquifer groundwater and controlling flooding in the Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area.

Pumping stations will improve irrigation for area farmers with water from the Arkansas River and allow for better water control on public hunting land to protect timber and wildlife habitat.

"As that job progresses with the federal government, we've committed to provide $8 million over the life of the project," Hitchcock said.



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