U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today met with Steve Miller, manager of the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge, regarding the proposed expansion of the wildlife refuge. Senator Shelby reiterated his concerns that the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has failed to properly solicit input from landowners and stakeholders, and has neglected to consider the effects the expansion may have on impacted parties and the local economy.
“I unequivocally oppose this attempt at a giant federal land grab by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS),” said Shelby. “If FWS continues to push this egregious and unjustified expansion, I will do all in my power to ensure its failure. We are already making great efforts to protect the Cahaba River watershed, as we should be, but this proposal is simply a bridge too far lacking any legitimate justification whatsoever. Pure and simple, this is an overreach by the federal government that I will fight.”
The FWS is proposing a massive expansion of the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge. The service currently is authorized to buy land in a 7,600-acre area in Bibb County and owns 3,600 acres. The proposal would expand the acquisition area by 106,415 acres. On an additional 173,380 acres, the service would be able to buy development rights to create conservation easements along the Cahaba River.
According to the Alabama Forest Owners’ Association, this expansive land acquisition will cost $22.8 million in payroll contributions annually, $778,958 in state tax contributions each year, and 702 jobs. Additionally, the federal government would be required to pay the affected counties in perpetuity for the acquired properties.