UPDATE: Expansion Plan Officially Tabled.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service officially tabled the expansion efforts proposed by leaders at the White River National Wildlife Refuge in a news release issued September 30, 2014
No thanks to our congressmen on this unfortunate decision…as they successfully snatched defeat from what was destined to be one of the greatest conservation victories in Arkansas history.
Unbelievably they chose NOT to support Arkansas sportsmen and instead fought the refuge’s plan at the urging of a few “fat cats” that they depend on for donations.
Refuge leaders had proposed a plan to slowly acquire neighboring lands from WILLING sellers using duck stamp money and/or Land and Water Conservation funds.
Each winter this shrinking habitat serves as host to the largest concentration of wintering Mallards in North America. This habitat is why our state is nationally revered for its incredible duck hunting. The plan would have returned millions of dollars in DUCK STAMP monies back to our state. Yet our disconnected congressmen shunned the refuge plan and Arkansas' sportsmen for political gain.
Sportsmen, wildlife enthusiasts, and Arkansas habitat will suffer as the Fish and Wildlife Service is now forced to take our duck stamp money to more receptive states.
Expansion of our Wildlife Refuge
Some landowners near the refuge have expressed interest in selling. Currently, even if the land owner 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. Arkansas sportsmen are supporting a refuge proposal that would correct that.
Once approved, it will allow the refuge to buy adjacent land from WILLING SELLERS, as it becomes available, using Land and Water Conservation Funds and hunter generated funds like duck stamp monies. (NOT GENERAL TAX FUNDS)
It could open up an additional 125,000 acres to public access and hunting right here in Arkansas!
1. It's a WILLING SELLERS program. Land owners will never be under any obligation to sell under this plan.
2. The "acquisition boundaries" are non regulatory- no impact on landowners with regard to laws and regulations.
3. Land acquisition money comes from LWC funds and hunter generated funds like Duck Stamps. NOT from GENERAL TAX REVENUE
4. Area landowners will benefit from increased land values.
5. Local communities benefit from increased revenue! Did you know that in lieu of taxes, the refuge pays counties nearly twice the rate collected from private landowners!
6. Keeps the forest American Owned.