The Right of Eminent Domain! Here I go… Stepping up on my milkcrate now! As most of you know, I can get quite opinionated about the bumbling, incompetent, and inefficient workings of our Government’s Sovereign (so-called) RIGHTS! AEP/SWEPCO has declared eminent domain on 100 acres of the Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari in Gentry, Arkansas. The State Agrees with this decision.
This 100 acre parcel section is known also known as Safari Four and has CONDEMNED that portion of property in order to place power lines across it. The animals must be removed from that section and it may take up to 3 years to complete new and appropriate habitats for the animals that will be displaced.
What is so inept and inefficient about this decision of AEP/Swepco, is that this displacement was not the only option! Co-manager, Leon Wilmouth said poor planning is the reason. In a recent interview he states,”If they had gone 300 yards north, and they could have stayed on our property, but the power lines would not have been in the middle of Safari Four, and we could have worked something [out] with them to keep some of that park open.”
He also added “The process is hoping to move Safari Four at some point, but right now we don’t have any place to move it. we will have to leave the animals there, just the public won’t get to see any of them,” he said.
Sadly, the deal was done and most people did not know about it until August 14, 2013, when KNWA, the NBC Fayetteville, AR, television station aired the story. You may think… Why should this matter? Well, just look at the definition of Eminent Domain…
“Eminent domain, broadly understood, is the power of the state to seize private property without the owner’s consent. Historically, the most common uses of property taken by eminent domain are public facilities, highways, and railroads.”
Does that bother YOU? It should! In one of the most contemptible decisions just a few short years ago,the Supreme Court ruled in Kelo v. New London – “that the government could forcibly seize private property and hand it over to other private owners, all under the guise of “economic development.”
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor condemned the decision in her dissent: “The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.”
I want to make it clear that the condemning of Wild Wilderness Safari is not the same circumstances as the Kelo v. New London case, BUT the spectre of your property being taken at the whim of others is REAL. Yes… Property you have paid taxes on, you raised family on, and you created a useful business on.
Much like in the 1960’s, the Wilmoth’s began an exotic animal program involving
cross-breeding domestic cattle, such as Herefords, Angus, and Brahmas, with American Buffalo. They also began raising large herds of elk and various breeds of deer. Soon after, people in the community began to bring orphaned or injured animals the Wilmoth’s, such as deer, that the family would nurse and nurture back to health.
Little did they know that their small dairy farm, would grow into a unique animal safari
that is home to many rare and exotic species.
I love this place. I have taken my kids there, my grandkids, and many other family over the last 20+ years. Many of the animals you find here are ones we may never have a chance to see otherwise. We have ridden a camel and held a Lemur (although her favorite place was sitting on top of hubby’s head). The experiences are endless. Losing section Safari 4 for any amount of time is a tragedy.
Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari is Wilmoth’s American Dream… a dream that has been attacked by the same government that was created to protect it. BUT that will not end his dream. The Dream will go on as posted on Facebook
THANKS TO ALL OUR LOYAL CUSTOMERS & FRIENDS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!! As stated, AEP/SWEPCO is condemning about 25% of the total safari. This portion is referred to as Safari 4, which is just over 100 acres. This is the domain for several species of our hoof stock–including, but not limited to, buffalo, longhorns, various deer & antelope species. It is the most northern portion of the drive. The remaining areas of the Safari will remain open!!
We appreciate everyone’s concern. We will remain OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK, 365 DAYS A YEAR!! We love providing a family friendly destination where visitors can relax and be delighted by the animals. Visit us soon!!!!
What can you do!!!!!
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Now as I step down off my milkcrate I just say…
SHAME ON YOU AEP/SWEPCO and the state of ARKANSAS!