Lawsuit Puts East Texas Wildlife Refuge On Hold - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/12/06-Cherokee County

Lawsuit Puts East Texas Wildlife Refuge On Hold

A lawsuit against the federal government puts the creation of a national wildlife refuge in East Texas on hold. The Texas Water Development Board and the city of Dallas are suing the U.S. Fish and Widlife Service and U.S. Department of the Interior for establishing the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge in Cherokee and Anderson counties. It's the same land Dallas wants to build the Fastrill Reservoir to meet future water needs.  Others want Dallas to find its water somewhere else. 

"Seventy percent of the hard wood bottom lands have gone away in Texas due to development," said Michael Banks, Co-Chair of Friends of the Neches River. That's why people like Banks worked hard to turn this piece of East Texas land into a wildlife refuge.

"That sustains the wildlife in that area because you got turkey, deers, birds, ducks and all that that depend on the crop the hardwoods produce," said Banks. The city of Dallas says it believes the federal government established the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge without considering the environmental and economic impact on North Texas.   It says this land is the most cost effective place to build a reservoir to meet future water needs.

"For the moment we certainly have a good supply of water, but we do have an obligation to plan for the future, and all the experts say the Dallas-Fort Worth region, the service area will almost double in the next 50 years," said Chris Bowers, Chief of Litigation for City of Dallas. Long enough, Banks says for Dallas to find water somewhere else.

"It's not a good deal for East Texas," said Banks. "We're giving up our natural resources for them to have an asset, our asset and that doesn't seem right." The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it met the requirements to establish a wildlife refuge in East Texas.

Molly Reuter, reporting.


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