WHITE RIVER NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
White River NWR, was established in 1935 for the protection of migratory birds. The refuge lies in the floodplain of the White River near where it meets the mighty Mississippi River. White River NWR is one of the largest remaining bottomland hardwood forests in the Mississippi River Valley.
Approximately two-thirds of the bird species found in Arkansas can be seen at White River NWR. Many of these are neotropical migratory songbirds that use the refuge as a stopping point on their journey to and from central and south America. Arriving in early autumn and usually peaking in late December, mallards along with gadwalls, American widgeon, and greenwing teal find their way along that highway in the sky- the Mississippi Flyway. During some years, up to 350,000 birds will winter in these flooded bottomland hardwood forests.
Lakes & Ponds
There are over 300 lakes and ponds located throughout White River NWR. Lakes and ponds are a welcoming oasis to many animals from all types of habitats, which supply drinking water, food, a breeding place, underwater escape, and a break from insects. Wildlife you may see around this habitat are salamanders, frogs, turtles, water snakes, beavers, ducks, bald-eagles, white-tailed deer, and American black bear.
Bottomland Hardwood Forest
Bottomland hardwood forests are the south?s most productive living communities. In their humid, tangled depth, more than 70 species of trees grow and more kinds of flowering plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians grow here than anywhere else in the south. Some type of food source is always available for wildlife because bottomland hardwood forests produce acorns, berries, and seeds on differing schedules.
River and Streams
The White River flows 90 miles through White River NWR, with many streams, bayous, and sloughs all across the refuge flowing into the river.
The area which is now White River National Wildlife Refuge has a long and colorful history. Hernando DeSoto landed near what is today St. Charles. At that time it was an Indian village and later became a trading post as goods moved up and down the White River to the Mississippi River. Not until the late 1800s and early 1900s did the population grow and settlers began to live along and on the river. Timber harvest, commercial hunting, fishing, trapping, and digging freshwater mussels for their shells were the primary means to make a living, resulting in significant reductions in native wildlife and their habitats. People working and living along this portion of the White River continued in this manner until the refuge was established.
Camping is permitted year round on the North Unit (except the Kansas Lake Area and other areas listed on the map legend) and on the South Unit at Jacks Bay, Moon Lake, Hudson's Landing, and the Floodgate campgrounds. All remaining campgrounds on the South Unit are open for camping from March 1 through December 15, except until December 31 for Prairie Lakes and Smokehouse Hill Campgrounds.
Fishing is permitted year round in LaGrue, Essex, Prairie, Scrubgrass and Brooks Bayous, Big Island Chute, Moon and Belknap Lakes next to Arkansas Highway 1, Indian Bay, the Arkansas Post Canal and adjacent drainage ditches, those borrow ditches located adjacent to the west bank of that portion of the White River Levee north of the Arkansas Power and Light Company powerline right-of-way, and all refuge owned waters located north of Arkansas Highway 1. All other refuge waters are open to sport fishing from March 1 through November 30 unless posted otherwise.
A refuge Special Use Permit is required to fish with any type tackle other than hook and line.
Frogging is permitted on all refuge owned waters open for sport fishing as follows: South Unit, frogging is permitted from the beginning of the state season through November 30; North Unit, frogging is permitted for the entire state season. The use of bow and arrow for taking bullfrogs or fish is permitted by Special Use Permit.
The Refuge is open for hunting of white-tailed deer, turkey, small game and waterfowl in designated areas.