Senator Hyde-Smith highlights flood damage in Mississippi for nominee Robert Wallace.

Video:  Senator Hyde-Smith highlights flood damage in Mississippi for nominee Robert Wallace.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today gained a commitment from the likely new head of the agency overseeing the nation’s national parks and wildlife refuges to visit Mississippi to assess flood damage to national wildlife refuges in the state.

Hyde-Smith sought the commitment as part of a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing for Robert Wallace to be Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the U.S. Department of the Interior.  When confirmed, Wallace would oversee the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.

“Hundreds of thousands of acres of land have been under water now for more than three months, affecting timberland and wildlife habitat, and, of course, homes and communities.  Included in the flooded area are a number of National Wildlife Refuges with more than 100,000 acres of prime wildlife habitat.  I’m not suggesting you can fix this problem, but you need to be aware of the significant damages on these refuges,” Hyde-Smith said.

Wallace accepted Hyde-Smith’s invitation after she asked him to travel to Mississippi “not only to observe the flooding issue, but also meet with Mississippians on various issues of importance to them, and relevant to the agencies you will soon oversee.”

Hyde-Smith has worked to draw attention and support from numerous federal agencies the historic flooding occurring the South Delta region since early this year.     

In her remarks at the Thursday hearing, Hyde-Smith also highlighted the importance of this position to Mississippi on a number of fronts.

“Mississippi is very proud of its national parks and wildlife refuges, and with the enactment of the Lands Package earlier this year, the establishment of the Medgar and Myrlie Evers home as a national monument.  Whether it be bird depredation permits for catfish farmers, federal duck hunting regulations, or recreational opportunities on Mississippi’s 15 National Wildlife Refuges, the programs and activities carried out have such an impact on my state,” Hyde-Smith said.  

Wallace is in line to become the first person since 2011 to be confirmed by the Senate to the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks position.  His nomination has gained bipartisan support, as well as endorsement from groups like Ducks Unlimited and the National Park Conservation Association.