White River Expansion Proposal: Overview of the Expansion Proposal
This proposal would expand the current 172,457 acre acquisition boundary of White River NWR to include an additional 125,349 acres surrounding and south of the White River NWR. When combined with the current White River NWR acquisition boundary, this project seeks to protect a total of 297,806 acres both east and west of the White River and south of the mouth of the Arkansas River at the Mississippi River. The expanded acquisition boundary will influence more than 9 additional river miles of White River. This project encompasses undeveloped areas in Arkansas, Desha, Phillips, and Monroe Counties, Arkansas, and Bolivar County, Mississippi. Ten state-owned wildlife management areas and four state-owned natural areas occur within or in the vicinity of the proposed expansion area.
The proposed expansion also supports the goals and objectives of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, the National Blueway System, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Lower Mississippi River Ecosystem team, the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative, the Gulf Coastal Plain and Ozark Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Arkansas and Mississippi Wildlife Action Plans, the Arkansas Conservation Delivery Network, and the overall mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System. To this end, expanding the acquisition boundary would further the refuge’s mission to conserve, restore, and protect migratory birds and their habitats, resident wildlife species, and rare, threatened, and endangered species.
The state and federal government have parallel wildlife and habitat conservation goals in this area. This proposal helps achieve these goals through a combined effort.
How Can We Taxpayers Afford this Land in a Time of Tight Budgets?
If approved, the Service will draw funding for this land acquisition from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. These are not derived from traditional tax revenues, but are collected from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps, entrance fees from certain national wildlife refuges, and import duties on arms and ammunition (Migratory Bird Conservation Fund), and from the sale of offshore oil leases (Land and Water Conservation Fund). The money is intended for land conservation. The policy of the Fish and Wildlife Service is to acquire land from willing sellers only.