Big River Park Conservancy, the umbrella 501(c)3 organization over Big River Crossing, Big River Trails, and now Ducks Unlimited Park, has named Chris Ware its new Executive Director and successfully secured 1,500 acres of land in the Arkansas floodplains to move forward with a comprehensive wetlands conservation effort, restoring the land to its natural habitat.

Chris Ware, a native Memphian, has led West Tennessee conservation and land stewardship efforts since 2017 on behalf of TennGreen, a partner of Big River Park Conservancy, as their General Counsel and Project Manager. Ware has been practicing law for 12 years specializing in estate and business planning as well as land conservation. He has played an active role in the development of the now-named Ducks Unlimited Park, both through TennGreen and as a member of the Board of Directors of Big River Park Conservancy.

“Chris has been a critical asset to our master plan to this point, and the next phases of our vision couldn’t be in better hands,” said Dow McVean, who founded Big River Park Conservancy and oversaw the comprehensive activation of his late father’s vision from Big River Crossing to the growing Arkansas floodplains and levee trails system.

Ware will now be responsible for day-to-day operations and project oversight of Ducks Unlimited Park master plan implementation. He will also manage easement acquisitions and serve as both the legal and financial representative for the 501(c)3.

Ducks Unlimited Park, which may be accessed from Downtown Memphis via Big River Crossing, comprises 1,500 acres of land and currently holds a 7-mile paved trail loop and half-mile out and back trail with stunning views of the Mississippi River, Memphis skyline and West Memphis agriculture. Ducks Unlimited Park also connects to the Big River Levee Trail System, which includes more than 110 miles of riverside trails atop the Mississippi River’s levee system.

Ducks Unlimited, the country’s largest wetlands conservation organization and namesake of the park, is taking the lead on the conservation strategy. Ducks Unlimited Park’s conservation work over the coming years will return the acquired land to its natural habitat as well as introduce new trails, a welcome pavilion with an outdoor classroom and restrooms, and an off-leash retriever training dog park. Ritchie Smith Associates is designing the master plan.

“Putting our expertise to work in our company’s own backyard is a significant opportunity for our organization—one we do not take lightly,” said Adam Putnam, CEO of Ducks Unlimited.

In addition to Ducks Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited Park project partners include: City of West Memphis; Marion, Arkansas; First Horizon Foundation; Nucor; Ingram; NexAir; International Paper; Hyde Family Foundation; Poplar Foundation; AutoZone; TennGreen Land Conservancy; Simmons Bank; and McVean Trading.

“This team effort has been transformational, and we’re excited to take the park’s vision to the next phase of development,” said Big River Park Conservancy Executive Director Chris Ware.

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About Ducks Unlimited
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 16 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit

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Carrie Patterson
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