For Immediate Release
September 30, 1999

Contact: Tom MacKenzie
404/679-7291

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE AWARDS THREE ARKANSAS EMPLOYEES

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service award winners on the banks of the White River in Arkansas. Left to Right, Dennis Widner, Manager of Cache River Refuge; Larry Mallard, Manager of White River Refuge; and Allan Mueller, Conway Ecological Services Field Office Supervisor. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recently recognized three of its wildlife professionals in Arkansas with Star awards for outstanding conservation achievements in the White River basin. Larry Mallard, Refuge Manager of the White River National Wildlife Refuge, Allan Mueller, Supervisor of the Conway Ecological Services office, and Dennis Widner, Refuge Manager of the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, each received a Star award for their outstanding conservation efforts.

All three Service employees were also recently recognized as Wildlife Conservationists of the Year by the Arkansas Wildlife Federation.

Arkansas currently faces several key water and natural resource decisions that will impact the future of fish and wildlife.

"These three Fish and Wildlife Service professionals are exceptional employees who really know the fish and wildlife resources of Arkansas," said Sam D. Hamilton, Regional Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service in Atlanta, Georgia. "Their professional dedication and sound biological judgement have provided the public with an outstanding service. They have done an excellent job of conserving the habitat so important to the hunting and fishing public," said Hamilton.

The Cache and White River basins provide two of the nation's premier wetland sites for migratory and wintering waterfowl. This area of Arkansas is continually ranked as the most outstanding hunting spot for mallards in the United States. Waterfowl hunting in Arkansas contributes $2 million to the local economy for each day of the hunting season. The extensive bottomland hardwood forests and other wetlands in this area also provide valuable habitat for song birds, a wide variety of water birds, and black bears.

Surveys by migratory bird experts forecast increasing numbers of mallards and gadwalls this fall. Individual duck hunting success will, as usual, depend on local water and weather conditions. Mallard ducks have shown an increase of 15 percent above last year's numbers to bring their estimated population to over 11 million. It is the first time the mallard population has exceeded the 10 million mark in more than 40 years. The Service's annual breeding duck survey showed the highest number of adult breeding ducks since the survey began in 1955. The dedicated work of people, such as these three award recipients, to conserve and protect wildlife habitats in the White River and Cache River basins, have benefitted all species of migratory birds. Many hundreds of thousands of wood ducks utilize the bottomland forests year-round for nesting and raising young. The Fish and Wildlife Services' refuges are available for viewing and hunting opportunities, and they provide a mix of forested wetlands, natural sloughs, and managed impounded areas for shorebirds, wading birds, forest land birds, and waterfowl. The wetland functions of these basins are important for numerous plant and animal species.

  • Land values adjacent to the White River and Cache River National Wildlife Refuges have more than doubled since 1994.
  • Waterfowl hunters contribute about $2 million per day to the local economy during the 60-day waterfowl hunting season.
  • Non-resident hunters spend an estimated $31 to $52 per day, and resident hunters spend an estimated $8 to $12 per day, depending on the type of hunting.
  • In 1988, commercial fishing contributed about $3.3-million to the local economy.
  • Between 1994-1997, commercial mussel harvests from the White River had an annual value ranging from $7,000 to $385,000 for their shells.
  • Non-resident freshwater fishermen spend an average of $45 per day, and resident freshwater fishermen spend an average of $11 per day.
  • In the lower Cache River and lower White River region, many non-resident hunters are guided. Guide fees range from $150-$300 per day.
  • The White River and Cache River National Wildlife Refuges received a combined total of 280,000 annual visitors. These visitors to the refuges participate in activities that include hunting, fishing, birding, and other outdoor recreational activities.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies.

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Release #: R99-080


1999 News Releases
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