12 May

White River National Wildlife Refuge Seeking to Expand

                                                                                                                      by Jim Taylor

Habitat loss of our forests remains the biggest threat to hunting opportunities and wildlife populations in Arkansas.  Here is your opportunity to voice your support for expansion of White River National Wildlife Refuge.

Establishment of our White River Refuge   by President  Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 5, 1935 continues to serve as a shining example what it means to preserve these unique areas. Today the refuge is enjoyed by wildlife enthusiasts of all types.

As noted this is not a federal land grab. It is simply allowing the refuge to purchase land from willing sellers near the refuge.  Now, with funds from duck stamps sales and excise taxes from the sale of guns and bows, the refuge would like to buy additional lands near its borders.

The Refuge has put forth the following Press Release:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites you to share your input about a proposal to increase the size of the acquisition boundary for surrounding White River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Land purchases for the refuge can only be made within its approved acquisition boundary. If approved, the acquisition boundary for White River NWR would increase by 125,349 acres and the new acquisition boundary would encompass 297,806 acres in Desha, Monroe, and Phillips Counties, Arkansas, and Bolivar County, Mississippi. Once this new "acquisition boundary" is approved the refuge could buy land from willing sellers.

Proposed Project Schedule

August 2012 - May 2013: Preliminary information-gathering meetings with government agencies and public officials and key partners within the proposed expansion area. COMPLETED
May 2013 – June 2013: Public scoping period, including three public meetings. -COMPLETED
July 2013: Develop Draft Land Protection Plan and Environmental Assessment along with associated NEPA documentation for Public review and comment.- IN PROCESS
August/SEPTEMBER 2013: Public comment period, including possible public meeting.(As of Aug 5th dates have not yet been established)  
September - October 2013: Develop final Land Protection Plan and Environmental Assessment along with associated NEPA documentation.
Winter 2013-14: Decision by the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

If approved, the Service will draw funding for this land acquisition primarily from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. These are not derived from traditional tax revenues, but are collected from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps, entrance fees from certain national wildlife refuges, and import duties on arms and ammunition (Migratory Bird Conservation Fund), and from the sale of offshore oil leases (Land and Water Conservation Fund). The money is intended for land conservation.