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Wetlands activist Scott House makes multi-million dollar gift donation to ASU


JONESBORO – Scott House, an active stakeholder in restoring and expanding wetland habitats in Arkansas, the Mississippi Flyway and in South America, has donated a permanent wetland easement for research and education to Arkansas State University, which was announced at a press conference Tuesday, May 3, in Cooper Alumni Center on the ASU campus.

The gift of 1,168 acres of his Bearitage Farm land in Poinsett and Cross County is valued at $2.56 million and will be used by the university in studying fish, waterfowl and wildlife habitats.

“In the spirit of a true philanthropist and naturalist, Scott House is setting aside a significant natural habitat that will be conserved, protected, and used as a living and learning laboratory for many generations of students, faculty members, and other scholars,” said interim Chancellor Dr. Dan Howard. “This is an extraordinary legacy and one that means a great deal to ASU and to our state. We simply cannot thank Scott sufficiently, other than to pledge that ASU will ensure that this precious resource is treated in a way that will that will ensure its perpetual use to benefit society.”

House was recently named as the 2011 National Wetlands Award recipient for Landowner Stewardship. House and other recipients will receive the awards, Wednesday, May 4 at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.

The National Wetlands Awards are presented annually to honor individuals who have demonstrated commitment to the conservation and restoration of the nation’s wetlands. The awards are administered by the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) and supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Federal Highway Administration, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, USDA Forest Service and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

House was nominated for the award by former interim ASU System President Robert L. Potts and current ASU-Jonesboro Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Cristian Murdock.

“This is a milestone in Arkansas State University’s second century,” said Murdock. “Scott is a modern pioneer in wildlife conservation. More than 13 years ago, he took almost 1,200 acres of this marginal farmland in eastern Arkansas out of production and turned it into what it once was, a haven for fish, waterfowl and wildlife. It is now known as BearitageF arm.” 

House is extremely pleased with placing Bearitage Farm in a conservation easement with ASU and building a research center and dormitory classroom.

“Putting my farm into this easement with Arkansas State University is something I’m very proud of,” House said. “Having future game wardens, wildlife refuge managers, biologists and students using Bearitage to do research is a wonderful feeling. They have a very large, diverse set of property from Tupelo Lake and the L’Anguille River, including hardwood bottomland, moist soil units and natural grassland prairie to research. But, best of all, this will stay with the university forever.”

In addition, House engaged neighbors to donate hundreds of adjacent acres to flood for migratory bird habitats. Organizations including the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have also provided support as House restructured the land by planting more than 60,000 trees, adding re-lift pumps to manage water depths, and building a levee system across 265 acres for wintering waterfowl.

House isn’t simply restoring Arkansas wetlands; he is now working in South America and is currently constructing the first wetlands for waterfowl in Argentina. He has built the levees and canals to flood a 125-acre moist soil unit that will be used as a duck hunting lodge during the months of May through July.

Conservation and preservation are two words close to House’s heart. He sees the need to provide wildlife refuges as well as protecting areas from flooding.

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