Jonesboro to Host Hearing that Could Determine Woodpecker's Fate

JANUARY 24, 2006 - Posted at 8:05 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A judge has re-set arguments in a lawsuit by environmentalists who want to block the Grand Prarie Irrigation project in eastern Arkansas.  The suit claims that drawing water from the White River for the project would harm the habitat of the rare ivory-billed woodpecker.

Instead of presiding over a hearing on the matter yesterday, U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Eisele recused from the case.  The lawsuit is now before U.S. District Judge William R. Wilson.  Wilson has set the hearing before February 6 in Jonesboro.

Work on the $320 million project to siphon water from the White River for use on farms that have been depleting the underground water supply will continue for now.

The National Wildlife Federation and the Arkansas Wildlife Federation filed the lawsuit in September.  They argue the project would violate the Endangered Species Act.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)