Former Ammunitions Plant Becomes Wildlife Refuge - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/5/04 - Karnack

Former Ammunitions Plant Becomes Wildlife Refuge

It's been nearly 9 years in the making. Back in 1996 musician and environmental activist Don Henley dreamed of turning land near Caddo Lake into a natural wildlife haven. Wednesday it became a reality.

It began with a tour by Don Henley's group, the Caddo Lake Institute, back in 1996. They were viewing the former Longhorn Ammunition's plant in Karnack. It was owned by the Army but Wednesday the land was officially handed over to become a wildlife refuge.

"It feels wonderful. I think it's a great thing for this area and for the whole United States. We don't have enough of these refuge sites," says Don Henley.

The more than 7,000 acres of lush, wooded lowlands make up the largest intact habitat in this part of the country. The land will eventually also be used for entertainment and education.

"We hope to use this front area where we're not going to disturb the refuge function for teaching and training people about wetlands," says Dwight Shellman with the Caddo Lake Institute.

"If people want to come hunt, fish, bird watch. There'd be a lot of opportunity here," says Paul Cornes with the Fish and Wildlife service.

"It's wonderful that a place that used to make bombs an explosives has now been turned into a peaceful refuge for wildlife and for human recreation and enjoyment," says Henley.

There's more land to come. About 2,000 additional acres are expected to be transferred to the refuge in the next few years.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service is now overseeing the Caddo Wildlife Refuge. Officials say it will eventually also add new jobs and economic opportunities to the area through tourism.

Amy Tatum, Reporting. atatum@kltv.com

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