Just outside of Mound City, Missouri, lies a wildlife refuge named Squaw Creek. The pristine land, known for being a haven for snow geese, was made a federal refuge and given its moniker by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935. The name “Squaw Creek” evokes many memories and a proud history in Holt County.
At the end of his administration, President Obama and his cohorts decided – as one of their final moves – to arbitrarily rename federal wildlife refuges they determined to have offensive names. To extend his politically correct agenda all the way down to places like rural North Missouri, President Obama directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rename Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge.
The Fish and Wildlife Service immediately engaged to change the name. Usually, if an agency wants to do something like that, they seek input from local communities. After all, changing the name of a local landmark shouldn’t be done hastily at the whim of bureaucrats; it should be done carefully – with consideration from folks who live in the area.
However, Fish and Wildlife did neither of those things. They held only one “public” hearing – a “public” hearing that was invitation only. There was no official record kept of the feedback officials received at the meeting and no media outlets were invited to cover the meeting. Shortly after the agency announced its intent to re-name the refuge, they did just that, declaring the refuge be named Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge – just as President Obama left office.
It wasn’t a transparent process. It wasn’t fair or legitimate either. If bureaucrats want to change decades of history, especially after area residents had already overwhelmingly rejected such changes before, there needs to be an open, fair, transparent – and legitimate process.
Since the change, I’ve been calling for the process to be reopened and done the right way. Last month, Congress passed a bill that did just that. It required the US Fish and Wildlife Service to reopen the process for changing the name of the refuge. They are quickly approaching the deadline to reopen the process. I will keep a close eye on the process to make sure those responsible carry out a fair, transparent process as required by law.
Ultimately, I want to see the name of the refuge changed back to Squaw Creek – as it’s always been, and always will be to me. At the very least, I want to see the public given the opportunity to have their say, like they should have been able to do in the first place.
Government rarely knows best, but it tends to do a lot better when it does things transparently – with input from local communities. We have processes in place so we the people have a voice in what happens in our backyard. It was not right for our voices to be ignored. It is far past time to finally give people the opportunity to be heard.