Red River National Wildlife Refuge Boundary Modification Act

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 12, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Obernolte), my friend, and Chairman Grijalva for helping us on this.

I rise in support of this bill, H.R. 6427, the Red River National Wildlife Refuge Boundary Modification Act. I urge my colleagues to support it, as well.

As has been explained here, it is a straightforward bill that addresses a very simple problem. For years, the Red River Wildlife Refuge in northwest Louisiana, my home turf, has been a boon for hunters and outdoorsmen and other recreationists. Just last year, it hosted over 209,000 visits. That is greater than the population of Shreveport, Louisiana, which is the largest city in my district.

Thousands of these visitors went to the refuge for the express purpose of hunting and fishing. The refuge truly has contributed to Louisiana's status as a sportsman's paradise. This is a sentiment that we in Louisiana hold so dear, we print it on every license plate.

The refuge's stated goal is to provide for the restoration and conservation of fish and wildlife habitat, including migratory birds, as has been explained here, that all come within the Red River Valley ecosystem. However, the refuge's current structure is insufficient to meet the goals set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, especially for migratory waterfowl.

As we stand here today, the refuge can only support about one-third of the birds it is intended to support. So my bill would help address this deficiency by modifying the refuge boundary to include a 3,300- acre tract of privately owned land for the purpose of eventually incorporating the tract into the refuge. This boundary modification would not alter the authorized acreage of the refuge, and it would still keep the refuge well within its current authorized use and size.

The Fish and Wildlife Service anticipates this tract would dramatically increase the number of migratory waterfowl the refuge is able to support. The bill will also benefit the local economy through partnerships with agricultural producers, greater access by the public to hunters and other recreationists, and greater waterfowl distribution throughout the region, as populations radiate from the refuge.

We spent a tremendous amount of time speaking with all the stakeholders on this issue and collecting their feedback. State and local support for this legislation includes all of the State senators and representatives who represent the area, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the Louisiana Forestry Association, several members of the local Caddo Parish Commission and nearby landowners.

This bill is pro-conservation, pro-hunting, pro-agriculture, and pro- outdoor recreation, so we believe it truly is a win-win-win.

I thank the chairman, the ranking member, the gentleman from California, and all the Natural Resources Committee for working with me on this bill. I urge my colleagues to support it.