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Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge

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MAVLauderdale Co.

Chickasaw NWR

Note: The Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge is part of the IBA site, Mississippi Alluvial Valley in Tennessee.

Location:  Nine miles north of Ripley (headquarters), west to the Mississippi River, Lauderdale County, Tennessee.
Physiographic Province:  PIF 5 (Mississippi Alluvial Valley); BCR 26 (Mississippi Alluvial Valley)
Tennessee IBA Site Map - Chickasaw NWR.bmp (80006 bytes)
Geographical Coordinates: 
    Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge--Lat. 354900N  Long. 0893800W
    Chisholm Lake--Lat. 355058N  Long. 0893649W
    Gum Pond--Lat. 354946N  Long. 0893503W
    Jennings Pond--Lat. 355004N  Long. 0893503W
    Open Lake--Lat. 354742N  Long. 0894144W
Elevation Range: 239' - 249'
    249' Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge
    239' Chisholm Lake
    246' Gum Pond
    246' Jennings Pond
    239' Open Lake
Size: 25,006 acres
USGS 7.5' quad:  Open Lake

Description:  Established as a national wildlife refuge August 5, 1985, the refuge lies in the Lower Mississippi River floodplain along the Chickasaw Bluff. Prior to acquisition, the lands were owned by the Anderson-Tully Company of Memphis who managed 18,000 acres of it for timber production. In 1956, The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency leased the land and managed it as the Anderson-Tully Wildlife Management Area. The site encompasses the largest block of bottomland hardwood forest in Tennessee. Habitat acreage includes:  Bottomland hardwood forest (21,221 acres), cropland (1,227 acres), open water, (325 acres), grassland-scrub/shrub (500 acres), and upland forest (550 acres). There are two main units. The 1,400-acre unit, where the office is located, is managed as a waterfowl and shorebirds sanctuary containing 12 impoundments as moist-soil or agriculture to provide about 1,100 acres of floodable habitat for migrating and wintering birds. The approximate 23,606-acre second unit is bottomland hardwood forest managed primarily for migratory birds and is an outstanding example of the biological system that once covered most of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Eight miles of the western boundary abut the Mississippi River without a mainline levee and is the only such stretch in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. Because of this, the refuge is subject to natural backwater flooding by the river. There are 20 miles of gravel/paved roads for refuge access.

IBA Criteria:  4a, 4b, 4d

Ornithological Importance:  Wetland associated species are the main documented criteria. Mississippi Kite, a Tennessee in Need of Management species, wading birds, and shorebirds use the refuge extensively.  During the Cerulean Warbler Atlas Project in 1999, 37 to 40 males were documented on the refuge.
    Note 1.  The five-year waterfowl (ducks, geese, and swans) average from the "Tennessee Mid-Winter Waterfowl Survey," 2001-2005 (none reported in 2004), is 20,586 birds. The total annual number during that survey period has varied widely--2001 (275), 2002 (40,180), 2003 (12,548), 2004 (0), and 2005 (49,926) individuals recorded. The five-year average for the major wintering duck species is Mallard (14,621), Gadwall (3,745), and Northern Pintail (1,145). Additional waterfowl notes: Sixteen species of waterfowl March 20, 2005. Pied-billed Grebe: Nests--April 2, 2005 (2 nests).
    Note 2. Wading birds can be numerous during the season with hundreds using the refuge for feeding. Examples are--July 5, 2004: Great Blue Heron (72), Great Egret (400), Snowy Egret (43), and Little Blue Heron (52).
    Note 3. Shorebirds numbers can reach more than thousand during peak migration periods of ten species or more. High counts include--Greater Yellowlegs: May 7, 2005 (84). Lesser Yellowlegs: April 13, 2004 (3,100) combined with Lower Hatchie NWR; May 7, 2005 (61). Least Sandpiper: May 7, 2005 (245). Pectoral Sandpiper: March 20, 2005 (119)

Site Criteria



Avg. No Season

Max. No. Season

Years of Data



Waterfowl (See Note 1 above.)






4bWading Birds (See Note 2 above.)Summer  20047
4dShorebirds (See Note 3 above.)SM, FM  2004-20057
Season1   B = Breeding, W = Wintering, SM = Spring Migration, FM = Fall Migration
Source 2  1-Atlas Breeding Birds of Tennessee 2-Breeding Bird Surveys 3-Christmas Bird Counts
4-Point Counts 5-Refuge Counts 6-Personal observations 7-Other (Birding Tennessee Freelists)

Ownership:  U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service
   Contact:  Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge, 1505 Sand Bluff Road, Ripley, TN 38063, 731-635-7621 (refuge), 731-287-0650 (administration office), 731-286-0468 (fax),  chickasaw@fws.gov

Conservation Concerns:

Management Program:  None.

Submitted by:

Additional Contributors:  

Approved under the umbrella IBA site Mississippi Alluvial Valley:  February 2006--Yes 7  No 0

This page was last updated on 02/19/06.