FBI scrutinizing Northeast Arkansas land deal

Updated: Sep. 17, 2020 at 7:50 PM CDT
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COLT, Ark. (KAIT) - An Arkansas state senator from Wynne says the Federal Bureau of Investigation is taking a closer look at a proposed sale of prime hunting property.

In July we reported on hunters' outrage at the University of Arkansas’s plan to sell the Pine Tree Experiment Station in Colt.

On Thursday, Republican Sen. Ron Caldwell of Wynne said the FBI is looking into the proposed $16.5 million sale, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, after he met with agents in early August.

Caldwell did not specify how long that meeting lasted or explain why the FBI was interested in the matter.

He told the paper he was not the source of any information that may have attracted the bureau’s attention.

A spokesperson for the FBI in Little Rock was quoted as saying, “It’s a long-standing policy of the Department of Justice that we can neither confirm nor deny an investigation. That’s all I can say on the matter.”

In March, the UA System board of trustees approved selling the 6,300-acre property to Lobo Farms LLC, which is based in the Poinsett County town of Fisher.

According to the UA System’s Agriculture Division, the land was “wooded and wet, unsuitable for row-crop research.”

Proceeds from its sale, they said, would be used to help finance a rice research station currently under construction near Jonesboro, and for other research projects.

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford told Region 8 News in July he, along with stakeholders and citizens, were concerned about the sale.

“It seems like we’re still focused on the $17 million transaction when we could have at least $20 million and retain public hunting,” Crawford said at the time. “So, that has brought up some questions.”

Sen. Caldwell said he was not aware of the sale until late July.

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