July 11, 2002 - "Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge"

It's a dream come true for nature lovers. The Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge in West Feliciana Parish is about to get bigger -- whole lot bigger!

It's a big tree, and it's all ours, or will be in just a few days. The biggest bald cypress known to man is at Cat Island on the Mississippi river just outside St. Francisville. Right now it's owned by the Nature Conservancy of Louisiana, but they've just been holding it in trust because that's just what they do. They grab hold of beautiful spots like this and hold onto them while the folks in Washington untangle their red tape. That's where you and I come in. After the bureaucrats have crossed the last "T" and dotted the last "I," the Nature Conservancy gives up the land they have been protecting, and puts it in public hands -- our hands -- in this case the Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Jonathon Dearbone of the Nature Conservancy says, "We're about to turn over about 4,000 acres to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the amazing rate of about three-million-850-thousand dollars."

That will make the Cat Island Refuge almost three times its current size.

"Places like this are what we call the last great places," says Dearbone, and this great place and its magnificent tree will be all ours in just a few days.

The Fish and Wildlife Service will eventually add trails and boardwalks which will make the world's champion cypress tree accessible to just about everybody.