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Chickasaw
National Wildlife Refuge


1505 Sand Bluff Road
Ripley, TN   38063
E-mail: chickasaw@fws.gov
Phone Number: 731-635-7621
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
http://www.fws.gov/chickasaw
The refuge is located in an area without a mainline levee on the Mississippi River creating a unique area subject to "natural" flooding regimes of the river.
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  Overview
Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge
Established August 5, 1985, Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge lies in the Lower Mississippi River floodplain along the Chickasaw Bluff in western Tennessee. Chickasaw NWR currently encompasses 25,006 acres and includes the largest block of bottomland hardwood forest in Tennessee. Chickasaw NWR and adjacent lands are known to be important wintering and stop-over areas for a large portion of the Mississippi Flyway mallard population. Under optimum conditions, peak waterfowl numbers may exceed 250,000 including black ducks, gadwall, pintail, teal, wigeon, wood duck, ring-necked duck, and hooded merganser.


Getting There . . .
From Ripley and Highway 51, proceed approximately 6 miles north on Edith-Central Road (becomes Edith-Nankipoo after passing through 4-way stop at Edith). Turn left on Hobe Webb road and proceed approximately 1.5 miles to first road on the right. Turn right on Sand Bluff Road and proceed to the bottom of bluff. Refuge headquarters will be on the left.


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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge has two main units relative to wildlife and habitat management strategies. The 1,400-acre unit where the office is located is managed as a waterfowl and shorebird sanctuary. This unit is closed to all Public Access November 15 to March 15 every year to minimize disturbance to wintering waterfowl and shorebirds in this heavily hunted area. The unit contains 12 impoundments managed as moist-soil or agriculture to provide approximately 1,100 acres of floodable habitat for migrating and wintering birds. The remainder of the refuge is 22,000+ acres of bottomland hardwood forest managed primarily for migratory birds but also benefits many species of resident wildlife. This unit is the largest block of bottomland hardwoods remaining in Tennessee and is managed as an outstanding example of this unique biological system that once covered most of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.

Wildlife is abundant on the refuge. Waterfowl and Bald eagle populations typically peak during January especially if temperatures drop below freezing and open water is limited to the sanctuary area. More than 200 species of birds use the refuge throughout the year with interior least terns and Cerulean warblers topping the list of birds to see. Wild turkeys and white-tailed deer are also numerous and popular for viewing. Chickasaw NWR has 3 active bald eagle nests and Wood ducks are year-round residents and depend on the habitat for nesting and brood rearing. The refuge also provides habitat for swamp rabbit, deer, fox and grey squirrel, and raccoon.

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History
The area became part of the state of Tennessee in 1796 and Lauderdale County was formed in 1835 with the county seat located in Ripley just 6 miles from the current refuge headquarters. Population growth was rapid in northwest Tennessee in the 1820s and 1830s, however there is no evidence of settlement in the immediate area of the refuge at any time during the 19th century. This is likely due to the low, wet, swampy habitat of the bottomlands. Small farms were the rule in this area and early agriculture favored cotton, although corn soon became the primary crop. The area was logged but extensive clearing did not occur until after World War II. This pattern continued into the 20th century until soybeans became the primary crop in the 1970s.

Prior to acquisition, the lands that now make up Chickasaw NWR were owned by the Anderson-Tully Company of Memphis, Tennessee. The company managed a total of 18,000 acres at this site for timber production. In 1956, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency leased this land and managed it as the Upper Anderson-Tully Wildlife Management Area. Eight miles of the western boundary abut the Mississippi River along the only stretch without a mainline levee in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. As a result, the refuge is subject to the natural process of backwater flooding by the river.

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Management Activities
The area became part of the state of Tennessee in 1796 and Lauderdale County was formed in 1835 with the county seat located in Ripley just 6 miles from the current refuge headquarters. Population growth was rapid in northwest Tennessee in the 1820s and 1830s, however there is no evidence of settlement in the immediate area of the refuge at any time during the 19th century. This is likely due to the low, wet, swampy habitat of the bottomlands. Small farms were the rule in this area and early agriculture favored cotton, although corn soon became the primary crop. The area was logged but extensive clearing did not occur until after World War II. This pattern continued into the 20th century until soybeans became the primary crop in the 1970s.

Prior to acquisition, the lands that now make up Chickasaw NWR were owned by the Anderson-Tully Company of Memphis, Tennessee. The company managed a total of 18,000 acres at this site for timber production. In 1956, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency leased this land and managed it as the Upper Anderson-Tully Wildlife Management Area. Eight miles of the western boundary abut the Mississippi River along the only stretch without a mainline levee in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. As a result, the refuge is subject to the natural process of backwater flooding by the river.