03 June

White River Refuge Seeks Opportunities to Expand

                                                                                                                          by Jim Taylor

“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed .... We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.”

― Wallace StegnerThe Sound of Mountain Water

Land owners who have property bordering or near White River National Wildlife Refuge may soon have the opportunity to sell their property to the refuge if they so chose.
Currently, no matter how badly a property owner would like sell his land to the refuge, if his property falls outside of the refuges approved acquisition zone he is just out of luck. At a recent public meeting in Dewitt talk of missed opportunities was common. With reports of large tracts of land bordering the refuge being sold for a bargain price of $800 acre that the refuge missed out on because the property in question fell outside of its "approved acquisition zone". It's easy to see why action needs to be taken. Currently the refuge is forced to sit on the side lines while these bargain basement real estate deals are transacted. These missed bargain buying opportunities are a loss for the refuge and the habitat it seeks to conserve. For the taxpayers and users of the refuge it's a missed opportunity to obtain land at bargain prices. It is a loss for the landowner/neighbor who certainly would have benefited from having one more interested buyer brought to market.
Refuge Manager, Keith Weaver explains "Acquisition boundaries"
 to attendees  at one of three public  input meetings in May.   

Keith Weaver, refuge manager,  is championing the effort to correct this handicap.  But like most things in the government this effort is not easy. The Fish and Wildlife service has  an arduous approval process just to establish/approve the geographic area that  a particular refuge may purchase property.  Many things have to be  taken into consideration in laying out the suggested acquisition boundaries.  Refuge biologist and refuge leadership have to consider the environmental significance,  economic burdens to refuge management and recreational opportunities.     

If approved, what does it mean to landowners who are inside the acquisition zone?   The biggest benefit is that they will  have a serious buyer(Federal Government) injected in the market.   The acquisition area does not change the hunting regulations or your rights as a property owner what so ever.  The refuge will not "claim" your land or force anyone to sell.    You can keep your land forever if you so choose or you may sell it to your brother in law.   The new acquisition zone is an abstract line that gives the refuge permission to make a purchase offer to a landowner if it so chooses.    

For outdoors-men, wildlife enthusiast and hunters this is a win-win program that needs your support.  The refuge is seeking input/comments during this phase of the approval process.  Please take a moment to let the refuge know of your enthusiastic support of the new acquisition zones and to be updated about new development in this project.   .  

I have put together a quick example email for you to  show your support-  Feel free to copy and paste and send your email off today.  We need all the support we can get. 

Please include "White River NWR Acquisition Boundary" in the subject line

send email to:  tina_chouinard@fws.gov 

Tina Chouinard
Natural Resource Planner
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Ref:  White River NWR Acquisition Boundary

Dear Mrs. Chouinard, 

I would like to see our refuge be able to acquire environmentally important woodlands when they become available.  Please consider this email as my voice of support for the proposed acquisition Boundaries on White River NWR.   

Please include me in any future communications, updates, meetings, and decisions regarding this environmentally important project.  

Thank you, 

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