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.


  1. I think this would be great, the more the better. I don't want the fed's to take any ones land, but if they are willing to sell I'm all for it. I can think of a lot worse way to spend our money. . .

  2. I belong to a hunting club that lies within the land the feds intend to buy. We lease the land and have for 50 years. We have 130 members and most members have permanent camps. The timber company that owns it have game biologists and very strict game management practices in place. No feeding, antler restrictions, a doe deer quota, etc etc.. Most of the members spend a lot of time and money each year to hunt. I just don't see how the federal government is going to improve the management strategy or increase revenue by purchasing this tract. I've hunted White River NWR for several years and you just don't see the deer numbers there that you see on our lease. Its bowhunt thru the regular season and only modern gun hunted and muzzleloaded for three days each after being drawn for a permit. Spend this money somewhere else. This is just another example of the government meddling in something it has no business messing with. Taking something from paying citizens and giving it to non paying citizens. Taking something that makes a positive impact on our local economy and screwing it up. 125,000 acres of WRNWR is enough!!!!

    1. Hi David.. Thanks for the feedback. I too have a hunting club not far from the refuge border. I totally agree with you and would never stand for our federal government ever forcibly acquiring private land. I am a business owner, property owner, thus a strong supporter of property rights.

      I have closely followed, read and researched the refuge proposal that has been put forth. I can confidently tell you that the refuge has no intention and in fact legally cannot force anyone to sell land to them under this proposal. That is not the purpose of the "proposed acquisition boundary" the refuge put forth.

      Bottom line is that some landowners have approached the refuge seeking to sell land to the refuge. What the refuge has proposed is that IF, in the future, a nearby landowner chooses to sell land to the refuge ...it would have the ability to make a fair market value offer. The landowner DOES NOT have to accept the offer or agree to sell to the refuge if he does not want to. Now or ever! The landowner can just as well sell it to you or I if they so choose and if we can agree on a price. It’s as simple as that. The refuge CANNOT compel anyone to sell land to them under this program.

      By necessity the refuge proposal put forth has a very long time horizon. Within the proposal they talk in terms of 20 and 50 years time horizons. Why? Because they can only acquire land by waiting for WILLING sellers to come forward. That, my friend, takes time..a long time.

      This land will eventually sell ...whether it be to the refuge, another private timber corporation, the Nature Conservancy, or to Ted Turner as his own private hunting preserve. I would just as soon have my duck stamp dollars put to work conserving habitat in Arkansas if I can help it.

      But not to worry ...my guess is that nothing will happen anytime soon considering the current economic circus we have in congress. Additionally I think we can assume that even with the approval of the “expanded acquisition boundary” it will be decades before any significant land acquisitions are ever realized.