Like all National Wildlife Refuges, Clarks River exists for "wildlife first"! We manage refuge lands to provide the best possible habitat for the various species of wildlife that live here.
The purpose of the refuge is to protect, enhance, and manage a valuable bottomland wetland ecosystem, along the East Fork of the Clarks River, for the benefit of waterfowl, neotropical migratory songbirds, forest wildlife, riverine species, and a wide array of other diverse species associated with bottomland hardwood communities. The geographical relationship to other managed lands in the region, and the varied habitat types contributes significantly to diversity of wildlife found on the refuge. Below is information on the various habitats:
Cooperative farmers are encouraged to use filter strips or buffers in fields adjacent to the Clarks River or any of its tributaries. Approximately 725 acres are currently being cultivated through cooperative farming agreements to meet refuge biological objectives.
Bottomland Hardwoods- The majority of the refuge is forested wetland that consists mostly of bottomland hardwood tree species. The refuge began reforestation of 120 acres in the winter of 2006. Approximately 50,000 seedlings were planted including American elm, bald cypress, bitternut hickory, shellbark hickory, northern pecan, hazel alder, persimmon and seven species of oaks. Other tree species have been allowed to colonize the site naturally. The refuge also plans to harvest about 640 acres of single-species hardwood plantations acquired from a previous owner and then restore those sites to a mixed species composition. Impacts to migratory songbirds and other wildlife will be monitored before, during, and after the restoration.
Managed Impoundments- Four impoundments have been created since the refuge was established to enhance wildlife management opportunities. All four impoundments combined provide approximately 75-100 acres of manageable habitat in the form of standing agricultural crops and wetland plants grown through active moist soil management. At this time, the refuge is dependent on rainfall or overflow flooding from the Clarks River to fill all but one of its impoundments.
Uplands- Uplands are higher elevation land that does not flood often. There is a small amount of upland on the refuge.
Wildlife Associated with these habitats
Important game species on the refuge include white-tailed deer, eastern wild turkey, gray squirrels, eastern cottontail and swamp rabbits, raccoon, opossum, quail, coyote and waterfowl. Probably the most common species of waterfowl on the Refuge is wood duck.
Comprehensive lists of flora and fauna present on the refuge are being compiled. A wildflower survey has catalogued 194 species, and the final list is expected to top 200. Over 50 species of reptiles and amphibians may be present. So far 30 have been confirmed, including one snake and one salamander not expected to occur here. River surveys have documented 54 species of fish, and 24 species of freshwater mollusks. One darter found was listed as threatened, and two freshwater mollusks found were listed as endangered on the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s list.