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City to receive $16.2 million for flooding and wetlands preservation

Grant part of President Biden’s 2021 Infrastructure program


Grant part of President Biden’s 2021 Infrastructure program


The city of West Memphis is set to receive $16.2 million in federal grant funding aimed at restoring floodplains along the Mississippi River. The goal of this project is to prevent repeated flooding of multiple transportation routes, including a vital public bridge that connects West Memphis to Memphis, Tennessee.

The United States Department of Transportation recently announced this funding as part of a larger initiative to make surface transportation systems more resilient to extreme weather events such as flooding and heat waves. This influx of funds comes as a relief to many communities that have been grappling with the impacts of climate change and unpredictable weather patterns.

West Memphis stands out as the only Arkansas community to receive a grant through the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) program. This grant will specifically target flooding that affects major transportation routes in the area, including Interstate 40, Interstate 55, two freight rail lines, and the Big River Crossing bridge.

The $16.2 million grant will be used to restore hundreds of acres along the west bank of the Mississippi River. These restoration efforts will include nature-based solutions such as restoring wetlands and establishing new hardwood forests. The additional vegetation will help slow water movement across the floodplain and reduce the risk of erosion.

One key element in protecting these transportation routes is the Ducks Unlimited Park, a 1,500-acre park in West Memphis accessible via the Big River Crossing bridge. Ducks Unlimited, a waterfowl and wetlands conservation organization headquartered in Memphis, has partnered with the Big River Park Conservancy on this recreational site.

While some Arkansas congressional delegates did not support the Biden 2021 infrastructure bill that created the PROTECT program, Ducks Unlimited extended thanks to various lawmakers, businesses, and public entities for their support during the grant application process. The organization highlighted the contributions of Arkansas Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton, as well as Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee,

See GRANT, page A3 GRANT

From page A1

in securing this funding.

West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon expressed his enthusiasm for the grant, emphasizing the importance of collaboration among various stakeholders for the benefit of the community and the environment. He praised the partnership between Ducks Unlimited, Big River Park Conservancy, and other key stakeholders for their efforts in securing this funding.

Ducks Unlimited CEO Adam Putnam also hailed the funding as a significant step towards wetland and wildlife habitat restoration. The organization sees this as a win not just for conservation efforts but for the people and communities in the region as well.

Looking ahead, Ducks Unlimited remains hopeful that the conservation efforts funded by this grant will pave the way for new opportunities for outdoor recreation at the park. Plans include the development of new trails, an outdoor classroom, and an off-leash retriever training dog park, further enhancing the community’s access to green spaces and recreational activities.

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