WAPANOCCA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Wapanocca NWR located 20 miles northwest of Memphis, Tennessee, in Crittenden County, Arkansas was established in 1961 to provided habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl. The refuge is located four miles west of the Mississippi River and protected from the river by the river levee. Prior to establishment of the refuge, it was the site of the Wapanocca Outing Club which was formed in 1886. This was one of the oldest and most prestigious hunting clubs. The club managed for waterfowl and most of the lake was set aside as a waterfowl sanctuary.
Today the refuge literally stands as a wildlife oasis in an agricultural sea. An excellent diversity of habitat exists comprised on mainly agricultural land, bottomland hardwood forest, early stage reforested hardwoods, open water and flooded cypress/willow swamp. Thirty small field impoundments totaling 190 acres have been developed for waterfowl in the agricultural area. Because of its strategic location in the heart of the Mississippi Flyway and the diverse habitat, the refuge is a prime wintering area for migratory waterfowl and a major stopping place for migrating warblers. Bald eagles, great blue herons, great egrets and anhingas nest on the refuge.
Due to loss of the major water source for the 600 acre Wapanocca Lake, fisheries has declined from historical levels, but the lake is still a major attraction for waterfowl to this area.
The primary management focus on the refuge is to manage Wapanocca Lake, associated bottomland hardwood, and cleared agricultural lands to provide needed food and habitat for wintering migratory waterfowl and indigenous biological communities. Where possible reforestation of agricultural fields has taken place to reduce forest fragmentation to lessen predation on forest dwelling neotropical birds.
Water levels in impoundments are manipulated seasonally to benefit water birds, shorebirds, and waterfowl.
A total of 200 wood duck nesting boxes are maintained yearly to increase production. Wood ducks are banded during summer months to obtain much needed population data for this species.
Wapanocca Lake, former oxbow on the Mississippi River, is shallow and saucer shaped thus must be carefully managed to prevent destruction of surrounding bottomland forest. Formerly fed by Big Creek to the north, the lake is now land locked and dependent upon rainfall. This source is not normally sufficient to raise the water levels and flood surrounding bottomland hardwoods to benefit waterfowl. Alternative water sources are being explored to bring the lake back to its former productive condition for fisheries and waterfowl.