National Wildlife Refuge
|8588 Route 148
Marion, IL 62959
Phone Number: 618-997-3344
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|Wintering numbers of Canada Geese on the refuge can peak at 200,000.|
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge's 44,000 acres of land and water contain a wide diversity of flora and fauna. Major habitat types on the refuge include hardwood forest, agricultural land, grazing units, brushland, wetlands, and lakes.
The refuge provides significant resting areas for migratory birds utilizing the Mississippi Flyway. Wintering numbers of Canada Geese can peak at 200,000. A total of 700 plant species, 245 bird species, 33 mammal species, 63 fish species, and 44 reptile and amphibian species have been documented on the refuge.
The western 24,000 acres of the refuge provide a wide range of recreational opportunities and also includea 4,050-acre wilderness area. The eastern portion, 20,000 acres, is a wildlife sanctuary, and public use is limited.
Annual visitation is approximately 1,000,000 visitors. Industrial activities on the refuge range from manufacturing and storage facilities to administrative offices. Many buildings now housing industries were used in the manufacturing of explosives during World War II, and they are still used for military ordnance production today. The concrete igloos built for munition storage are now leased to private industry for storage of many types of products.
Getting There . . .
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is located five miles west of Marion, Illinois, and five miles south of Herrin, Illinois, on State Route 148. From I-57 in Marion, go west on Illinois Route 13 about three miles to Illinois Route 148. Turn left (south) and go two and one-half miles. The refuge Visitor Information Center is located on the left.
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Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is managed with four broad objectives: wildlife management, agriculture, recreation, and industry. The primary wildlife management objective is to satisfy the food and resting needs of wintering Canada geese and other wildlife. This objective is coordinated with the agriculture objective through cooperative farming and permittee grazing programs.
Approximately 4,000 acres of cropland are managed with the help of local farmers. The farmers sharecrop the refuge land, harvesting a percentage of the crops and leaving the rest in the field for wildlife. Hay cutting and cattle grazing are also permitted on approximately 2,000 acres of refuge land. Cattle graze the pastures all summer and are removed in October to give the arriving geese undisturbed use of the area.
Moist soil wetlands are also maintained to create shallow feeding areas for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. During normal years, water levels in moist-soil units are lowered during the summer to encourage the establishment of moist-soil vegetation. Water levels are then raised during the fall to make the seeds produced by moist-soil plants available to waterfowl.
Upland habitat is maintained using fire and timber management. Controlled burning is very carefully used to remove vegetation that often is too dense and to assist with the removal of invasive plant species.
The recreational objective centers largely around the refuge's three man-made lakes, which together exceed 8,700 acres. Hunting, fishing, camping, boating, swimming, environmental education and wildlife observation are part of the public use program. Wildlife can often be seen near industrial buildings on the refuge.