Jim Fowler Park

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You may remember Jim Fowler from Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom or his appearances on The Tonight Show. Now, Mr. Fowler has a desire to create a Wild Kingdom right hear in the Panhandle, and that could mean some good economic news for the citizens of Holmes County.

Smith Lake in Holmes County currently lies dormant and is not being used for any recreation at this time, but plans are being made to change that.

"The USDA and the Fowler Center have provided funding for the feasibility study through the University of West Florida to conduct a 120-day study to see if a wildlife park was feasible for our community," says Jyl Eikman of Holmes County.

Wildlife enthusiast and educator Jim Fowler recently expressed his interest in turning Holmes County's Smith Lake into a wildlife preserve. If this 360-arce lake and its surrounding area are turned into a wildlife park it could mean tremendous returns for the citizens of Holmes County.

"If the proposed Bay County Airport goes in when Highway 79 is four-laned up to the interstate, we’re just in a prime area."

Officials in Holmes County say the wildlife preserve would mean more than just economic development to the area, it will be an attraction, but it will also serve as a research component for our university and our educational systems to come here and research as well.

The results from the study to determine if the wetlands in Holmes County is capable of supporting Mr. Fowler's proposed project will be announced in about four months. Fowler says this park will be far from a traditional zoo with animals able to roam free; it's the people who will be in cages.