Arkansas' White River Refuge named Among Nation's Most Threatened

AUGUST 10, 2005 - Posted at 8:14 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The White River National Wildlife Refuge has been named as one of the nation's most threatened refuges.  The designation comes in a report by a private group that cites the Grand Prarie Irrigation Project as a major hazard for the refuge's future.

The National Wildlife Refuge Association says drawing billions of gallons of water from the White River to irrigate nearby rice fields would prove irreparably harmful to wildlife.  Also at issue is the recent rediscovery of the rare ivory-billed woodpecker.

Scientists note that recordings of the bird's distinct double-rap made near the White River prove the woodpecker lives nearby.  The bird's existence in the area was announced in April.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)