White River National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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White River NWR Facts

Entrance sign. Credit: USFWS

Entrance sign. Credit: USFWS

Refuge Facts

  • Established: 1935.
  • Acres: 160,000 (Arkansas) 90 miles of the White River lies within the boundaries of the refuge.
  • Located in Desha, Monroe, Arkansas, and Phillips counties, AR.

Natural History

  • Refuge occupies 90 of the lower 100 miles of the White River, also 3 miles of the McClellan Kerr Arkansas Post Canal Corp’s of Engineers Project.
  • Largest concentration of wintering mallard ducks in the Mississippi Flyway, other large concentrations of birds include snow and canada geese.
  • Numerous species of wading birds, shorebirds, and raptors.
  • Four active bald eagle nests, and a healthy population of native black bears.
  • Total of 356 natural and man made lakes encompassing 4,000 acres; forestland of 154,000 acres; cropland 900 acres; and grassland 1,000 acres.

Financial Impact of Refuge

  • 15-person staff.
  • 455,000 visitors annually.
  • Current budget (FY 10) $2,028,022.00.
  • Resident and non-resident visitors generated $11.2 million in expenditures in FY 06.

Refuge Objectives

  • To provide optimum habitat for migratory birds consistent with the overall objectives of the Mississippi Flyway.
  • To provide habitat and protection for endangered species occurring on the refuge.
  • To provide for a natural diversity of wildlife common to the White River bottoms.
  • To provide opportunities and facilities for wildlife oriented recreation and environmental education in the highest possible degree compatible with other refuge objectives.
  • To cooperate with other water and land managing agencies and private interests to foster proper management of the total water and land resources of the White River Basin.
  • To preserve appropriate wooded areas in their natural condition for scientific study and for public enjoyment.

Management Tools

  • Forest management to promote quality habitats for migratory birds and other wildlife.
  • Water management for waterfowl and wading birds.
  • Cooperative farming for waterfowl food production.
  • Mechanical/ chemical control of noxious plants.
  • Big and small game management with public hunting.
  • Education/interpretation.
  • Law enforcement.
  • Partnerships.

Public Use Opportunities

  • Trails.
  • Fishing.
  • Observation tower.
  • Wildlife observation.
  • Photography.
  • Hunting.
  • Boating.
  • Visitor Center.

Calendar of Events

  • January: waterfowl hunting.
  • March: fishing season opens.
  • April: turkey hunting.
  • June: Youth Fishing Derby.
  • September: squirrel/rabbit hunting.
  • October: archery / muzzleloader deer hunting; White River Wildlife Festival.
  • November: modern gun deer hunting, waterfowl hunting.
  • December: waterfowl hunting, furbearer hunting.

Questions and Answers

When will refuge gravel or dirt roads open to access fishing lakes?

As soon as receding floodwater and drying weather conditions allow. Information regarding road conditions can be obtained anytime by calling (870)282-8200 ext 1.

When can I apply for the quota deer hunt permit drawing?

  • June - muzzleloader
  • July - modern gun
What roads can I drive on?

Established roads only when not blocked by gate or other means due to flooding or resource protection.

Where can I get detailed maps of the refuge?

The refuge brochure and map is available at the Visitor Center, access points to the Refuge–brochure boxes, and on-line via our website. Detailed maps are available for purchase from the Arkansas Geological Commission in Little Rock and the Corps of Engineers in Memphis. Refuge maps are available for printing on our website. Some privately owned businesses in the area provide maps or refuge brochures.


Last updated: May 10, 2013