Corps of Engineers: 'We Destroyed Them'

August 23, 2005--Posted at 11:05 PM CST, updated at 7:51 a.m. on 8/24/05 

MARKED TREE--  Monday night K8 News told you the U.S. Army's Corps of Engineers was responsible for the burning of permanent duck blinds in the St. Francis wetlands, and Tuesday,  Corps officials admitted it.

Kenny Phillips, whose blind was destroyed said, "I don't see how they can preserve something when they have done what they have done here. Look at the trees behind it," that is what Kenny Phillips told K8 News Nightbeat Monday, referring to what was left of his duck blind.

His blind, along with 28 others were purportedly burned by the Corps of Engineers in the St. Francis Wildlife Mitigation Wetlands.

In a statement released by Chrystal Spokane with the U.S. Corps of Engineers, she said,

"Duck hunting is a long standing tradition and a tradition within families, but the Corps of Engineers put hunters on notice that their blinds were subject to removal in 2004. Permanent structures are considered an encroachment or trespass on U.S. Government-owned property and are subject to removal."

The term removal is a stretch. I asked Spokane if this area is supposed to be a wildlife preserve, why then do you burn the trees, along with the blinds, and leave the remnants, posing a safety hazard to those who will return to hunt?

Her response: "The Corps wants to preserve the habitat. The tin and metal will decompose after time."

As reported Monday night, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission does allow for permanent pre-existing structures on state property. Why is this important? The land that Kenny Phillips blind sits on is currently being turned over back to the Game and Fish Commission after being run by the Corps for 30 years.

K8's Brad Bean spoke with Kenny Phillips and informed him of the news.

"I want to know why after 30 years of owning the land, the corps is just now destroying my personal property and the habitat. Especially now that the land will soon be owned by the State of Arkansas," Phillips said.

K8 News will continue to follow this story.