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Federal appeals court limits who can sue over voter redistricting, restoring Elkins' Bunch Park


Federal Appeals Court rules on voting rights protections

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday ruled only the U.S. Attorney General can bring a lawsuit under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Most cases brought under Section 2 came from individuals and groups. Those lawsuits challenged re-drawn district maps, which limited the influence of people of color. A lawsuit had been brought by several Arkansans seeking to overturn the state’s 2021 redistricting plan. Representatives from the ACLU, the NAACP and the Arkansas Public Policy Panel released a joint statement yesterday, calling the decision deeply troubling and that the decision is a devastating blow to the civil rights of every American. The case could still be heard by the full 8th Circuit and could go as high as the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Restoring Bunch Park

The Beaver Watershed Alliance and the town of Elkins are collaborating on a federal grant project to restore Bunch Park. The park is on the East Fork of the White River and was once a wet prairie that worked to control floodwaters. Becky Roark is the executive director of Beaver Watershed Alliance, and she said it’s a bit of an unknown park for some.

“It’s a quaint little park, you know, playgrounds, lots of active recreation going on there, people fishing, putting their boats in and things," Roark said. "It’s the only park in Elkins too, so it's a really important space for the city.”

The Alliance is providing $95,000 for design and implementation. Roark said the Alliance will work with Elkins Parks Department to restore the native prairie and build public trails for birding and wildlife viewing.

“We also hope this will be a great training ground for land owners to come and learn how to do these conversions on their own landscapes so they can learn to burn, they can learn how to, you know, reduce the Bermuda and fescue and transition to more of your prairie grasses and prairie plants,” Roark said.

Elkins Parks Committee Chair Stephanie Cowan said in a press release that the project will “enhance the city’s public park while additionally showcasing examples of sustainable growth that benefit all of us through low-impact development.”

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Jacqueline Froelich is an investigative reporter and news producer for <i>Ozarks at Large.</i>
Kyle Kellams is KUAF's news director and host of Ozarks at Large.
Matthew Moore is a reporter and producer for Ozarks at Large.
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