The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Monday carried an AP report about a new Fish and Wildlife Service survey that showed a decline in fishing and hunting nationwide. The article included a comment that Arkansas hunters and fishermen were “bucking the national trend” because the state still ranks high in participation rates.

Not really. You can rank high but still have declining participation, a troubling indicator for fishing and hunting license fees during a period when Arkansas population was increasing. The report, available from the Census Bureau, shows that in 1996, 494,000 Arkansans aged 16 and older fished. Ten years later, the survey put the number at 461,000, a decline of 6.7 percent. In hunting, the number dropped from 329,000 in 1996 to 308,000 in 2006, a 6.4 percent drop. (The decline in the numbers of people from all states fishing and hunting in Arkansas dropped even more sharply.) Wildlife watching in Arkansas continued to increase, from 658,000 participants in 1996 to 859,000 in 2006, a 30.5 percent rise.

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Bush federalism

The Bush idea of federalism: make the states do the feds’ work and don’t pay them for it. Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), announced plans to end funding for local school districts that collect information about Medicaid and help eligible families with paperwork. This will save the feds $3.6 billion over the next five years.

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According to Tony Boaz, the director of Medicaid in the schools, which operates from the Southeast Education Service Co-op, 88 percent of Arkansas school districts participate and the decision will cost them about $8 million annually. Students should still get help, but school districts will have to cover the cost of paying people who provide it.

Still waiting ….

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…. for word on a Bush administration speaker for the Sept. 25 ceremony marking the 1957 desegregation of Central High School. Interior Secretary Kirk Kempthorne will be in town the day before for the opening of the new visitor center for the National Park Service’s Central High Historic Site. He may do double duty and stay over to represent the administration.

Scratch one

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We mentioned Pulaski County Treasurer Debra Buckner last week as a potential candidate for county judge should Buddy Villines follow through on his inclination not to seek re-election. She announced later that she’d be running for re-election as treasurer.

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