The Deep Fork River is nearly as deep as it is wide and spans 34 river miles on the refuge. The bottomland hardwood forests the river supports are part of an extensive habitat dependent upon waters that drain into the Mississippi River watershed.
In the spring, visitors may see the brightly colored prothonotary warbler, painted bunting or scarlet tanager. In the summer, the neo-tropical migrating songbirds are raising their chicks in all levels of the forest -- from the canopy to the forest floor. Watch for turkey strutting and displaying their tail feathers during the spring. Enjoy the prairie wildflowers and pollinators dependent upon them during the spring and summer seasons. Be on the lookout for fox and grey squirrels gathering acorns and nuts for the long winter during the fall. During the winter, American bald eagles can be seen perched on tree branches along the Deep Fork River.
The refuge provides a glimpse of a diminishing ecosystem extremely important to a variety of wildlife and plant species. Historically, the vast bottomland hardwood ecosystem of eastern Oklahoma encompassed an estimated 2.2 million acres. By the early 1980s, roughly 85 percent of the floodplain forests had been cleared. The 9,700-acre Deep Fork River National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect these amazing natural resources.
It is one of more than 550 national wildlife refuges in the United States administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and it is managed for the benefit of wildlife and you.