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Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge

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Cross Creeks NWR

Cross Creek National Wildlife Refuge

Photo by Linda Green

A classic winter view of the refuge looking east from the knoll at the headquarters. The Cumberland River (Lake Barkley) flows right to left in front of the wooded and rocky outcrop bluff in the distance.

Location: Three miles east of Dover, Stewart County, Tennessee.
Physiographic Province: PIF 14 (Interior Low Plateaus [Western Highland Rim]); BCR 27 (Southeastern Coastal Plain)
Tennessee IBA Site Map - Cross Creeks NWR
Geographical Coordinates: 
    Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge--Lat. 362607N  Long. 0874149W
Elevation Range:  359' - 378'
Size:  8,862 acres
USGS 7.5’ quads:  Bumpus Mills, Cumberland City, Dover, Indian Mound

Description:  Established in 1962 as a result of mitigation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when a portion of the Kentucky Woodlands NWR was inundated with the creation of Lake Barkley. The refuge stretches 12.5 miles on either side of Lake Barkley on the Cumberland River from mile marker 90 upriver to mile marker 102. Its primary purpose is to provide feeding and resting habitat for migratory birds with an emphasis on habitat for wintering waterfowl in the refuge's river bottomlands. Sixteen waterfowl impoundments, two deep water reservoirs, 1,200 acres of agricultural land, and 800 acres of moist soil management provide food for migratory waterfowl. In addition, farming operations produce corn, soybeans, wheat and small cereal grains for wintering waterfowl. Habitats include 25% deciduous woods (2,215 acres), 6% mixed woods (532 acres), 13% shrub/scrub (1,153 acres), 4% grassland (354 acres), 16% agriculture (1,418 acres), 16% wetland (1,418 acres), 16% lakes and rivers (1,418 acres), 3% cliffs or rocky areas (266 acres), and 1% buildings, roads and parking (88 acres). 

IBA Criteria:  4a

Ornithological Importance:  Is primarily managed as a migratory and wintering refuge for waterfowl. Bald Eagles use the refuge, nesting on or nearby. Residual benefits include some habitat for wading birds and shorebirds, and treed corridors along the banks and bluffs of the Cumberland River for neotropical migrants. At least one pair of Bald Eagles, a Tennessee In Need of Management species, has nested on or near the refuge since 1983. An additional 3-4 birds usually winter.
    Note 1. The 5-year waterfowl (ducks, geese, and swans) average from the "Tennessee Mid-Winter Waterfowl Survey," 2001-2005, is 41,822 birds (9% of the statewide wintering total). The total annual number during that survey period is fairly consistent with 57,520 (2001), 36,451 (2002), 35,190 (2003), 40,960 (2004), and 38,987 (2005) individuals recorded. The 5-year average for the major wintering duck species is Mallard (27,327 [10% of the statewide wintering total]), Gadwall (2,588 [8% of the statewide wintering total]), American Black Duck (1,826 [17% of the statewide wintering total]), and Ring-necked Duck (1,319 [11% of the statewide wintering total]). The average maximum number of waterfowl for any one week in the 5-year period, 2001-2005, is similar with 44,133 waterfowl present. Canada Goose five-year average during the "Tennessee Mid-Winter Waterfowl Survey," is 7,680, however, four times as many geese were counted as normal in 2005. A 4-year average (2001-2004) is 4,699 geese. Most numbers of waterfowl species peak higher during the migration periods, especially fall migration, than the period of the "Tennessee Mid-Winter Waterfowl Survey." Blue-winged Teal pass through the refuge spring and fall and at times in large numbers, e.g., September 2004 (300+).

Site Criteria



Avg. No Season

Max. No. Season

Years of Data



Waterfowl (See Note 1 above.)


41,822 (Mid-Winter Survey)44,133


3, 5, 6

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 (Cross Creeks NWR--Sarah Welker, compiler)
4-Point Counts 5-Refuge Counts 6-Personal observations (Sarah Welker) 7-Other (specify)

Ownership:  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    Contact:  Sarah M. Welker, Wildlife Interpretive Specialist, Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge, 643 Wildlife Road, Dover, TN 37058, Sarah_Welker@fws.gov

Conservation Concerns:  Serious concerns include damming and flooding. Major concerns include natural pests/disease, and introduced plants/animals. Potential concerns include hunting conflict and fishing conflict.

Management Program:  Management direction is provided in the Comprehensive Conservation Plan.

Submitted by:  Sarah M. Welker, Wildlife Interpretive Specialist, Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge, 643 Wildlife Road, Dover, TN 37058, 931-232-7477 (office), 931-232-5958 (fax), Sarah_Welker@fws.gov

Additional Contributors:

Approved:  December 2005--Yes 7  No 0

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