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Duck Stamps Fund New Wildlife Refuge In West Kentucky

Photo by Lee Andrews, USFWS

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear approved a new funding stream Tuesday to help establish a wildlife refuge in Western Kentucky.

A portion of the funds collected from Federal Duck Stamps, as in duck-themed postage stamps, will now go toward establishing the 24,000 acre wildlife refuge at the confluence of the Ohio and Green rivers.

“We are thankful for Leader McConnell’s support of the Green River National Wildlife Refuge,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Together, we are showing our commitment to long-term conservation and expanding access to our natural wonders in Western Kentucky.”

Goals of the newly established refuge include protecting wetlands and bottomland forest habitat, supporting waterfowl and migratory birds, and providing recreational opportunities for hunters, birders and anglers among others, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

So far the Green River National Wildlife Refuge comprises about 10 acres thanks to a donation from the Southern Conservation Corp. Funding from the stamps could help federal officials purchase more conservation lands.

But... the refuge happens to sit downstream from a coal ash landfill owned by Big Rivers Electric Corporation that, as of November, is leaking hazardous levels of pollution into the waterway. It remains unclear how much of the river is impacted by that pollution.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the creation of the Green River National Wildlife refuge last November, but it’s been in the works since 2018. The creation of the refuge marks the 568th in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

“I’m grateful Gov. Beshear answered the call to protect Western Kentucky’s outdoor heritage at the Green River National Wildlife Refuge,” McConnell said. “For years, I worked with local, state and federal partners to establish this refuge, and I’m proud of the enormous support we received from the Henderson community.”

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.

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