Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Participates in Doug Travis Wildlife Management Area Dedication Ceremony
Former Westvaco Wildlife Management Area renamed to honor long-time employee
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher visited Berkley today to celebrate the dedication and public service of avid water fowler and long-time conservation educator Doug Travis, a 59-year employee of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR), by renaming the Westvaco Wildlife Management Area in his honor.
Travis has devoted 59 years to the KDFWR and although health problems have slowed him in recent months, the former Camp Currie director is still on the job, teaching youth outdoor skills and helping them understand more about the Commonwealth’s wildlife.
“Doug Travis has devoted his life to conserving and safeguarding Kentucky’s irreplaceable treasures, and has taught hundreds of thousands of young Kentuckians about the importance of preserving Kentucky’s wild places and using our resources wisely,” said Governor Fletcher. “It is an honor to help rename this wildlife management area in his honor.”
The Doug Travis Wildlife Management Area (WMA), formerly owned by the Westvaco Corporation, provides 4,118 acres of critical bottomland hardwood habitat in the Mississippi River floodplain of western Kentucky’s Hickman and Carlisle counties.
The rich bottomland soils and cypress sloughs provide ideal habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife species. Natural flooding occurs in the winter and spring, and mechanical water-control systems have been constructed at several sites. While the area provides much-needed feeding and resting areas for fall migrants, it is heavily used in spring when birds return to their breeding grounds.
The area that became the WMA was among five sites under consideration at one time by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as possible locations for Kentucky’s first national wildlife refuge. When FWS eventually settled on the Clarks River site, the Westvaco Corporation, using their own corporate funds, acquired and developed the proposed area privately to benefit migrating waterfowl and other wildlife species.
Acquisition and development of the important wildlife area subsequently began with the signing of a cooperative agreement in June, 1991. It was the first such public-private partnership in Kentucky and as a result of that agreement, the KDFWR and the Westvaco Corporation became joint contributors to the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.
Westvaco and KDFWR managed the area jointly and staff for both organizations occupied an on-site WMA office. Semi-annual meetings provided opportunities for the planning and implementation of short- and long-term wildlife management strategies, as well as forums for progress updates.
Westvaco was sold in 2002 and became MeadWestvaco. NewPage Corporation bought MeadWestvaco in 2005 and elected to liquidate holdings that could be considered surplus acreage. In order to retain the high-quality habitat area as part of its waterfowl management scheme, KDFWR exercised its purchase option as detailed in the original agreement.
Under KDFWR ownership and management, the Doug Travis WMA will supply and protect critical bottomland hardwood wildlife habitat in perpetuity, while allowing opportunities for public use and enjoyment.