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L to R: USFWS Director Dan Ashe, Bill Bumpers, Heidi Bumpers, Brent Bumpers, and Senator Pryor at the Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge renaming event, April 18, 2014. Credit: John Stark, USFWS.

White River National Wildlife Refuge renamed in honor of Dale Bumpers

A black and white portrait of the sitting senator.
Senator Dale Bumpers. Public domain license.

St. Charles, Arkansas – At a ceremony this afternoon, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will officially rename the White River National Wildlife Refuge to the Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refugee in a ceremony honoring the former Arkansas Governor and four-term U.S. Senator.

Congress voted to rename the refuge after Bumpers in January of this year.

“The Service is proud to recognize the many contributions Senator Bumpers has made to give many future generations the same opportunity to enjoy Arkansas’ natural beauty as we have had,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said before the ceremony. “He is a giant among conservationists and a visionary who followed an unconventional path to set aside some of Arkansas’ last wild places. It is fitting that he will be forever linked with the White River.”

Expected to attend the ceremony with Bumpers is his wife Betty, their children Brent, Bill and Brooke, and several grandchildren. Director Ashe will present Bumpers with a scaled-down replica of the new refuge sign bearing his name.

As the 38th Governor of Arkansas, Bumpers helped stop the dredging and channelization of 232 miles of the Cache River and its tributary, Bayou DeView, saving some of the last remaining bottomland hardwood forests in the Mississippi River Valley. As a U.S. Senator, Bumpers was instrumental in the establishment of the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in 1986. In 1993, he facilitated an innovative land exchange that swapped government-owned Idaho timberland to add 41,000 acres of wetlands and bottomland hardwood forest to the White River and Cache River National Wildlife Refuges. Ultimately, the two refuges were connected by a corridor of some 80 river miles.

The White River National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in east-central Arkansas to protect migratory birds. Today, the 160,756-acre Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most important areas for wintering waterfowl in North America. It is also home to the only population of native black bear in the State of Arkansas and is designated as a Wetland of International Importance. The Refuge annually attracts about 455,000 visits from hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others.

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Charles “Bo” Sloan, USFWS Refuge Manager, 870-282-8200

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