Conservationists Seek to Block White River Pumping Station

MARCH 26, 2004 - Posted at 7:40 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The National Wildlife Federation has asked a federal judge to block construction of a $319 million irrigation pumping station on the lower White River.

The conservationists say the project at DeValls Bluff and miles of related irrigation lines to Grand Prarie rice farms could irreparably harm the river's ecosystem, which provides the backdrop for one of the world's most famous waterfowl habitats.

The state federation is joined by the National Wildlife Federation and 16 other individuals or organizations in other lawsuits filed last month.  Yesterday's court filing seeks a preliminary injunction to block specific construction contracts.

The actual construction of the pumping station went unfunded for months, but Senator Blanche Lincoln recently freed up more than $3 million to get the work started.  Terry Horton of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation has said that starting construction would all but ensure that the rest of the project gets funded.

The national federation released a report last week that named the Grand Prarie project as the most dangerous and wasteful of all those controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)