Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge is located in southernmost Illinois, covering parts of Alexander, Johnson, Pulaski and Union Counties. The Refuge was established in 1990 under the Emergency Wetland Reserve Act of 1986; this act was put into place to protect, restore and manage wetlands and bottomland forests. Cypress Creek is open to the public with the exception of the Frank Bellrose Waterfowl Reserve which covers 1000 acres within the Refuge. This area is managed for, and provides sanctuary to waterfowl, shorebirds and other migratory birds.
The goals of Cypress Creek are to protect, restore and manage wetland and forested areas within the Refuge according to the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Here at Cypress Creek we provide high quality habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife, as well as many threatened and endangered species. The Refuge strives to support biodiversity and provide the public with opportunities for environmental education and recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, bird watching and nature photography.
The Refuge is cradled between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, within the Cache River watershed. Approximately 16,000 acres out of the 35,000 delineated within the Cypress Creek’s acquisition boundary have been purchased, and include portions of the Cache River, Cypress Creek and adjoining land. This portion of southern Illinois is situated at the intersection of 4 physiographic regions; this unique geography contributes to the overall biodiversity of the Refuge and the surrounding area. Much of the Cache River Basin falls within the acquisition boundary of Cypress Creek. This area houses the most diverse communities of bottomland tree species in the state; including bald cypress trees that are hundreds of years old. This region contains 91% of the state’s high quality swamp and wetland communities, plus a wide array of waterfowl, wading birds and Neotropical songbirds. Researchers in this area have catalogued 128 species of breeding songbirds, 49 species of mammals, 32 amphibians, 43 reptiles, 84 freshwater fish, 47 native mussels, and 34 crustacean species.
Due to the
ecological significance of this region, Cypress Creek Wetlands was designated a
RAMSAR Wetland of International Importance.
links for more information about the staff of CCWNR or environmental
education aids available to schools, as well as law enforcement on the Refuge.