Western Kentucky wildlife refuges receive nearly $18 million to buy land for waterfowl habitat

By: - April 28, 2023 5:40 am

Summertime in the bottomland hardwood forest of Green River National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo by Lee Andrews/USFWS)

Two wildlife refuges in Western Kentucky will receive almost $18 million from a federal commission to buy thousands of acres to protect waterfowl habitat in the state. 

A release Thursday from the U.S. Department of the Interior stated the Migatory Bird Conservation Commission awarded almost $11.4 million to the Green River National Wildlife Refuge in Henderson County to purchase 1,335 acres for new habitat. The Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge in McCracken, Marshall and Graves counties is receiving almost $6.6 million to buy 2,482 acres. 

The two wildlife refuges are the only national refuges in Kentucky. The Green River National Wildlife Refuge was started with a 10-acre land donation in 2019. The refuge now consists of about 700 acres; the new funding will double its size, protecting  migratory birds, bottomland hardwood trees and other wildlife. 

Junior duck stamp

Chase Fulcher, the president of the volunteer group Friends of Green River National Wildlife Refuge, told the Lantern that the funding would be “transformational” in growing the conservation area for future generations. 

“That money’s coming back here for all individuals to be able to use and enjoy the land, not just hunters or sportsmen,” Fulcher said. 

Fulcher said the hope is to eventually expand the refuge to tens of thousands of acres.

The millions of dollars for Kentucky’s refuges and three other refuges in New Hampshire, Louisiana and Washington come primarily from the sale of “Duck Stamps” or specialized postage stamps featuring artwork of waterfowl, along with taxes collected on imported arms and ammunition.

Fulcher said the group anticipates the land to be purchased and added to the refuge sometime this summer. 

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Liam Niemeyer
Liam Niemeyer

Liam covers government and policy in Kentucky and its impacts throughout the Commonwealth for the Kentucky Lantern. He most recently spent four years reporting award-winning stories for WKMS Public Radio in Murray.