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Celebrating Bumpers, a ‘lion of conservation efforts’

opinion by Maylon Rice

Editor’s note: Maylon Rice is a former newspaper reporter, columnist and editor at several newspapers over the past 40 years. He ran, unsuccessfully for the Arkansas House of Representatives in 2012. A native of Warren, Rice lives in Fayetteville.

Opinions, commentary and other essays posted in this space are wholly the view of the author(s). They may not represent the opinion of the owners of The City Wire.

Not to be lost in the long and detailed latest federal spending bill passed by Congress is a well-deserved kudos and long-awaited recognition to former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers of Charleston.

Today, Bumpers and his lovely wife Betty, live in retirement in Little Rock. As with all former U.S. Senators and popular governors of yesteryear, the Bumpers’ belong to all of Arkansas. And Arkansans everywhere are grateful for all they have done.

In bestowing yet another honor upon Messrs. Bumpers (and we always include Betty, as she is right at his side on most matters), was the naming of the massive and environmentally important federal White River National Wildlife Refuge as the Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge.

This action, tossed in the larger federal spending bill by U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., renames the refuge for Bumpers, who was the governor at the time the land was secured by the federal government to be established as a pristine wildlife refuge in the Delta. There is also in the Interior Department’s section of the spending bill a $550,000 appropriation for this pristine Arkansas landmass.

Both of Arkansas’ U.S. Senators – Pryor, and John Boozman, R-Ark. – voted for the spending bill and hence the naming of the White River National Wildlife Refuge for Bumpers.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, two of the state’s four congressmen voted against the measure, by voting “no” to the entire bill. That’s just the way it works in the federal system. It comes as no surprise that it was Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, and Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, who voted against the large omnibus spending bill.

Cotton, protecting his Tea Party flank, is in a head-to-head challenge with Pryor. He postured again for his demanding right-wing constituents and out-of-state backers. It was likely no skin off Bumpers’ nose. (He grew tired of beating the likes of John Harris Jones in 1974, Bill Clark in 1980, Asa Hutchinson in 1984, and Mike Huckabee in 1992. Bumpers retired from the U.S. Senate in 1998.)

Oddly enough, most of the federal monies in the Interior spending bill will go toward Crawford and Cotton’s districts.

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But I digress by speaking of those who didn’t follow through with the needs in this bill and naming the refuge after the “lion of conservation efforts of valuable wildlife habitat in Arkansas.” That’s our esteemed statesman, Dale Bumpers.

Congratulations sir. We wish many, many times every day that you were back in Washington D.C.

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