LITTLE ROCK —The state Game and Fish Commission on Thursday approved a pair of dredging projects on backwaters of the Arkansas River.

Both involve extensive removing of silt. One of the projects is at Maumelle and the other is near Pendleton in southern Arkansas. Both projects will need permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before they can proceed. The permits are for disposition of the spoil, the dredged material.

The commission authorized a commitment of $120,000 for the work in addition to a grant from the Southeast Aquatic Resource Partnership, a group affiliated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The project at Maumelle is on Rector Brake, a backwater of the river that was once its main channel. Runoff from a creek draining much of Maumelle has brought sediment into Rector Brake, creating boating problems and also adversely affecting fish spawning. The city of Maumelle has taken steps to reduce the silt in the creek.

An estimated 65,000 cubic yards of silt would be removed by a small dredge on loan to the Game and Fish Commission by the Fish and Wildlife Service and deposited in a nearby area of the Arkansas River if the Corps of Engineers approval is given. Gravel would be brought in to create spawning areas.

Near Pendleton, an area known as Coal Pile is a near legendary bass fishing spot. It also has silt problems that interfere with boat traffic and with fish spawning. The agency took ownership of Coal Pile recently.

The dredging would restore a connection to the Arkansas River for recreational fishing. Silt has resulted in a barrier at the entrance just upstream from the Pendleton Bridge on U.S. 165.

In addition to largemouth bass, Coal Pile is also a popular crappie and catfish spot.

In other business Thursday, the commission approved donating three elk hunting permits, one each to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation and the Arkansas Wildlife Federation for fundraising. A portion of the funds will go to Game and Fish for its elk program work.