Information from: www.thefishingwire.com
LITTLE ROCK - It is one of those little-known items in state government that have major impact - Marine Fuel Tax.
This is the state, not federal, tax paid on gasoline and diesel fuel used in boats. Thanks to a long ago bit of legislation, the money is channeled to build and maintain roads and access areas on Arkansas lakes and rivers.
The Marine Fuel Tax is collected, held by the Arkansas State Department of Highway and Transportation, then disbursed for specific projects of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The tax was a project developed by the late Henry Gray, long-time director of the AHTD and a former biologist with the Game and Fish Commission.
A recent example of how the tax works to achieve multiple benefits is at the town of Felsenthal in south Arkansas and only a short distance from the Louisiana border.
Felsenthal Mayor Linda Newbury asked the Game and Fish Commission for help in improving K Avenue, her town's main street. She said, "Our Street Fund is woefully under-funded....This street is about one mile long. I am hoping you (AGFC) would direct some of your Marine Fuel Tax monies to resurface this road."
She explained that the street leads to three boat launching ramps on the Ouachita River and to a fishing pier. The street also leads to three access areas on the AGFC's Beryl Anthony Lower Ouachita Wildlife Management Area which is heavily used by waterfowlers and other hunters as well as fishermen.
At their July meeting, the AGFC's commissioners authorized $99,000 from Marine Fuel Tax funds for the Felsenthal project. Other money for the work will come from the town and from Union County. The road work at Felsenthal is expected to begin immediately.
Over several decades, Marine Fuel Tax money has been used in all 75 Arkansas counties for building and improving travel to water-related recreational activities. Building boat launching ramps and parking areas along with roads leading to them are most of the Marine Fuel Tax projects.
Henry Gray's work in creating the Martine Fuel Tax led to his name being placed on a wildlife management area in White County and to his induction into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame.