- Associated Press - Friday, April 18, 2014

ST. CHARLES, Ark. (AP) - A national wildlife refuge in southeastern Arkansas was renamed Friday after Dale Bumpers, a former governor and U.S. senator, at a ceremony in St. Charles.

Bumpers, 88, and his wife had been expected to attend the ceremony, but were unable to join, according to Connie Dickard of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In January, Congress approved renaming the White River National Wildlife Refuge after the former governor and four-term U.S. senator.

A sign with the refuge’s new name was unveiled during the ceremony hosted by the federal wildlife agency. Among those who spoke were the service’s director, Dan Ashe, and Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor. Bumpers‘ two sons - William and Brent - as well as his nephew Archie Schaffer also attended the event.

Bumpers, a Democrat, served as Arkansas’ governor during the early 1970s before he served four terms in the U.S. Senate from 1975 to 1999.

While Bumpers was governor, he helped stop the channelization of 232 miles of the Cache River and the Bayou DeView. Later as a U.S. senator, Bumpers worked to establish the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Arkansas.

And in 1993, Bumpers devised a land exchange, to swap government-owned Idaho timberland for some wetlands in Arkansas. The trade added 41,000 acres of wetlands and bottomland hardwood forest to the White River and Cache River National Wildlife Refuges.

The White River National Wildlife Refuge is nearly 161,000 acres and was established in 1935 in east-central Arkansas to protect migratory birds. The territory is also home to the only population of native black bears in Arkansas.

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