31 October

ABA Members to Show Support for White River Refuge's Proposed Expansion

by Jim Taylor

Jim Myers, Arkansas Bowhunters Association's newly elected president, has announced his organization's endorsement of White River National Wildlife Refuge’s, proposed expanded "land acquisition areas." He has made a "call to action" for all his ABA members to write letters of support for the proposal.

In endorsing the plan Mr Myers noted that this proposal simply allows the refuge to buy from timber companies or landowners that are WILLING sellers. The proposal does not force anyone to sell if they choose not to.

Only about 10% of Arkansas forested wetlands remain. This proposal helps conserve what is left of some of our states most ecologically valuable bottomland forest in the lower Mississippi River Delta.

If approved it could open up an additional 125,000 acres to public access while conserving it for future generations. A large portion of this would possibly be purchased from a large private commercial timber company who has expressed interest in selling. Currently, even if the timber company wanted to donate its land to the refuge, the refuge would be prohibited from accepting it, simply because it falls outside the approved acquisition areas. This proposal would fix that.

Mr Myers noted that as with so many ABA conservation initiatives this effort will benefit ALL Arkansas sportsman not just bowhunters.

Members are asked to send support email/letters to the following:

1. US Fish Wildlife:
Tina  Chouinard,
Natural Resource Planner,
US Fish and Wildlife Service.   
email is:  tina_chouinard@fws.gov   

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

2. Congress:

Congressional Contacts:  Phone                FAX                   Email Link

09 October

Public outrage over the government shutdown of our refuges.

Arkansas is home to ten national wildlife refuges that are critical in protecting a wide variety of wildlife habitat, providing sportsman needed access to hunting and fishing opportunities as well as providing much needed economic benefits to the communities that surround them. This continuing government shutdown has impacted us greatly and serves to remind us of how vitally important these conservation lands are to the hunters of our great state.

The fact that Washington bureaucrats can direct our wildlife refuges to close visitor centers, national, regional, and local offices where manpower is required is one thing, but to close gates to refuge roads that simply provide access to undeveloped forest lands comes across as spiteful.

I have found inconsistent policies regarding public access to forests after reviewing the various government agency contingency plans for this current shutdown. For instance forest lands of the National Parks Service and Wildlife Refuges have been “closed to public access” yet contingency plans of the National Forest Service and BLM make no such statements and are not denying access to undeveloped forest areas during this shutdown. The BLM simply refers to “Visitor Management” on page 2 of their plan by stating they will close visitor centers and “post signs that no patrols, maintenance...” or other support will be provided to visitors.

I have a simple common sense solution. Adopt language in our refuge contingency plans that allow undeveloped forested areas of our refuges(like the National forest and BLM) to remain open in the event of future government shutdowns. You just know that this is going to be an annual event in Washington. That way future government shutdowns of refuge offices, visitor centers and other facilities can take place without affecting the forest lands that must remain open for the enjoyment of Arkansas hunters and other outdoor enthusiast.

Done..solved!  Now the Washington bureaucrats can go back to entertaining us with their incessant squabbling.

Jim Taylor