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New U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge Named in Memory of Native Mississippian Holt Collier


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2005

Contacts:
Connie Light Dickard, 601/321-1121
Tim Wilkins, 662-839-2638

Jim Rothschild, 404/679-7291

 

Jackson, Miss: U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, Marsha Barbour, First Lady of Mississippi, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today dedicated a new national wildlife refuge near Hollandale, Mississippi, to the memory of Holt Collier. The 1,439-acre Holt Collier National Wildlife Refuge is the first ever to be named for an African-American.

In 1902, as Holt Collier, an expert marksman and a freed slave from Greenville Mississippi, guided President Theodore Roosevelt through the Mississippi Delta on his famous bear hunt, Collier could not have envisioned that both he and Roosevelt would leave conservation legacies. Collier had captured a black bear that threatened one of his hunting dogs and tied it to a tree. When Roosevelt, a skilled sportsman in his own right, refused to shoot the bear, the incident drew lots of publicity, including two editorial cartoons on the front page of the Washington Post. Morris Michtom saw those cartoons and designed the Teddy Bear. During his presidency, Roosevelt established 52 national wildlife refuges. Collier was an ex-Confederate soldier and a well-known bear hunter and sportsman in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Today, just over a century later, Sen. Cochran (R-MS) and Rep. Thompson (D-MS), who co-sponsored legislation to establish the refuge, were among those present to honor the legacies of Collier and Roosevelt at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson. The Museum, the Theodore Roosevelt Society, Wildlife Mississippi, and the Service sponsored the event. A refuge sign, honoring Collier, was unveiled.

In addition to the 1,439 acres already designated by Sen. Cochran and Rep. Thompson’s legislation, the Holt Collier National Wildlife Refuge will gain an additional 633 acres from a donation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Land is still being acquired for the refuge which is eventually expected to total about 18,000 acres. The legislation also included provisions for a Holt Collier Environmental Education and Interpretation Center to be located somewhere in the south delta region.

Situated on Holt Collier’s historic hunting grounds, the Holt Collier National Wildlife Refuge currently allows rabbit hunting and archery hunting for deer. More recreational activities are planned including wildlife observation facilities, fishing, expanded hunting opportunities, photography and environmental education.

The Holt Collier National Wildlife Refuge is managed with six other refuges, known collectively as the Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge Complex, in the Mississippi Delta. They are Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge near Hollandale, Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge proposed near Onward, Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge near Yazoo City, Hillside National Wildlife Refuge in near Thorton, Morgan Brake National Wildlife Refuge near Tchula, and Matthews Brake National Wildlife Refuge near Greenwood. Together these refuges conserve nearly 100,000 acres of wildlife habitat that serves as a migration corridor for birds coming as far north as the Artic Circle and as far south as South America.

Located along the Mississippi Flyway, the Holt Collier National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat and resources for more than 250 songbird, wading bird, waterfowl and raptor species including snowy egrets, prothonotary warblers, great crested flycatchers, indigo buntings, roseate spoonbills, white ibis, great blue and little blue herons, black-crowned night herons, snowy egrets, green herons, wood storks, mallards, and red-tailed hawks. Plans are also underway to continue reforestation of the refuge with bottomland hardwood trees, which may provide essential habitat for the threatened Louisiana black bear and several other native species.

The Holt Collier refuge is the 544 th national wildlife refuge in a nationwide network of public lands managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the protection of wildlife.

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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 fish and wildlife management offices and 81 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 assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.

 


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