Secretary Haaland Highlights President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda in Arkansas

$4.4 million investment will reconnect ecosystems and provide a water source for residents

Last edited 03/21/2024

Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2024

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland visited Fayetteville, Arkansas, today to highlight how President Biden’s Investing in America agenda and America the Beautiful initiative are restoring our nation’s lands and waters and creating healthier outdoor spaces for people and wildlife. 

Secretary Haaland visited the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center, where she met with officials from the Commission and local leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing Arkansas, including the impacts that the climate crisis is having across the state, and the ongoing, collaborative efforts to restore and conserve outdoor spaces.  

The Commission was awarded a nearly $4 million grant through the America the Beautiful Challenge for the War Eagle Creek Collaborative Restoration Initiative. Together with matching funds, a total investment of $4.4 million is helping a coalition of state and federal agencies, local governments, non-governmental organizations and landowners to remove barriers to the natural movement of aquatic species.  

At its completion, this project will help reconnect War Eagle Creek, restore watershed functions, and improve water quality for the surrounding habitats and communities. Overall, this effort will reconnect more than 400 stream miles, making it the largest stream restoration project ever undertaken in Arkansas. It will also remove or replace hazards on War Eagle Creek, making the waterway safer for those who live, work and recreate in this area. Through these efforts, the project will help ensure a cleaner water source for the 550,000 residents in northwest Arkansas, many of whom live in historically disadvantaged and underserved areas and provide community services like educational training and the production of informative data. 

Many bird species, largemouth and smallmouth bass call the War Eagle Creek home.  The waterway offers recreation opportunities for visitors, with the scenic beauty of limestone bluffs, forested hillsides and Class 1 rapids. This project will help establish the War Eagle Creek Water Trail, enhancing recreational opportunities along a 28-mile stretch of the creek. 

The America the Beautiful Challenge, which was launched in 2022 with support from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is dedicated to funding landscape-scale conservation and restoration projects that implement existing conservation plans across the nation. This public-private grant program is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), which is leveraging funding from the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Defense to raise additional philanthropic and private support, with the goal of directing at least $1 billion in grants to communities over the next five years. In 2024, the program expects to award up to $119 million in grants to communities nationwide and recently announced the release of the 2024 Request for Proposals. 

The America the Beautiful Challenge advances President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative, which set the nation’s first-ever goal to conserve and restore 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. The 10-year, locally led and nationally scaled initiative lifts up efforts to protect, conserve, connect and restore the lands, waters and wildlife upon which we all depend. In his first two years in office, President Biden invested more dollars in conservation than any other President in a two-year period, and he is on track to conserve more lands and waters than any President in history.   


Was this page helpful?

Please provide a comment