Friday, January 19, 2001

Feds eye 23,000 W. Ky. acres as good spot for wildlife refuge

By Nancy Zuckerbrod
The Associated Press

        WASHINGTON — The federal government wants to turn 23,000 acres in western Kentucky into a wildlife refuge.

        The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday it was seeking public comment on its plan, which is aimed at protecting the habitat of waterfowl, non-game land birds and other wildlife.

        The flood-prone land along the Ohio River is known as Henderson County's Scuffletown Bottoms area.

        Residents are supportive of the project, said Anthony Hulen, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky. “It's a way to preserve land that the river more or less controls,” Mr. Hulen said.

        Henderson County Judge-executive Sandy Lee Watkins said some farmers were initially leery of the plan but backed it after receiving assurances they could still grow some of their crops.

        Mr. Watkins said all the land acquisition would be done on a voluntary basis. The government plans to buy property or obtain leases or easements that prohibit activities that are incompatible with a wildlife refuge.

        Money derived from sales of duck stamps typically helps the government buy wildlife habitat. People who want to hunt waterfowl have to buy the stamps, which are available at refuges, post offices and sporting goods stores.

        Mr. Watkins said the refuge would bring tourism dollars to Henderson County. “It brings in a lot of hunters. ... And it's been amazing how many people are coming into our area now for bird watching,” Mr. Watkins said.


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