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Bayou DeView in Spring Bloom. Photo by Eric S. Johnson, USFWS.

Cache River National Wildlife Refuge adds lands for wildlife conservation

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service is improving wildlife habitat conservation capacity at Cache River National Wildlife Refuge by acquiring lands from willing landowners. This will benefit wintering waterfowl, migratory birds and other native fish and wildlife, and also increase opportunities for public access.

This year the Service was awarded $1.391 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund and $1 million from North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). These funds enabled the Service to purchase 978 acres of habitat in Prairie and Monroe Counties, Arkansas to be incorporated into the refuge. Due to the requirement for NAWCA funds to be “matched” by non-federal monies, the NAWCA project ultimately resulted in a total of 2,177 acres of critical wetlands and floodplain habitat being protected, restored, or enhanced in the Lower White and Cache River Basins. 

In addition to purchasing lands offered by willing sellers, this year the Service was successful in completing an exchange of lands near Biscoe, Arkansas, in which Cache River National Wildlife Refuge exchanged an isolated 322-acre tract of refuge land in Monroe County for 569 acres of private lands in Prairie and Monroe Counties. The surplus 247 acres and associated real estate value of the private lands compared to the refuge lands were donated by the private landowner, as well as the costs of the appraisals, surveys, and other transaction costs.

The exchange will bring significant and immediate public benefits because it increases the number of acres conserved for fish and wildlife, increases public ownership on the White River, increases public recreational opportunities, improves public access to interior parts of the refuge over land and from the White River, and connects the two largest (and previously separate) tracts of refuge lands. Moreover, the exchange and donation of these lands allows the Service to use its limited acquisition funding to purchase other tracts of land for the refuge.

These additions to Cache River National Wildlife Refuge were made possible by the cooperation of several partners including Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Darby’s Warrior Support, and private landowners. The Service is grateful for the funding received for land purchases, and the willingness of private landowners to become part of an enduring conservation legacy by donating, selling, or exchanging their lands. 

The new refuge lands, which are in the vicinity of Biscoe and Cotton Plant, Arkansas will be conserved, restored, and managed to protect wetland ecosystems, providing habitat for waterfowl, migratory birds, and other native fish and wildlife species. They will also be available to the public for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, environmental education, and interpretation. The addition of lands to Cache River National Wildlife Refuge and other refuges also has a favorable impact on the nation’s economy

Cache River National Wildlife Refuge is in the process of accepting a donation of a conservation easement on a 273-acre private property in Jackson County that borders the refuge property. The private landowners will continue to own and exclusively use the property, but certain restrictions will be placed on their activities and land management practices. This easement will be administered by the Service and will ensure that habitat values for waterfowl, wading birds, songbirds, and other native wildlife are conserved and enhanced on the protected property. It will also multiply those benefits on adjacent refuge lands.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.  For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.  Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfwssoutheast, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwssoutheast, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwssoutheast.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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