About the Refuge

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One way to open your eyes to unnoticed beauty is to ask yourself, "What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?" ~Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge was authorized in 1997. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has identified an Acquisition Area of approximately 53,000 acres. The first track of land was purchased in 1998, making it the 549th National Wildlife Refuge in the country. The goal is to assemble approximately 20-25,000 acres of land through donation and acquisition from willing sellers to create the refuge. Currently the refuge consist of approximately 9,500 acres and is comprised of one of the largest remaining bottomland hardwood forest in the region.

Bottomland hardwood forests are one of the most biologically productive ecosystems on land, and the rich moist soils from seasonal flooding nourish an explosion of wildlife diversity. Freshwater mussels, amphibians, fish, and mammals are all found in abundance here, and migratory songbirds and waterfowl take advantage of this rich habitat on their long flights from nesting to wintering grounds. This diversity and abundance of wildlife provides ample hunting, fishing, and other recreational opportunities. Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge protects, manages, and enhances this ecosystem and healthy and viable populations of wildlife found here through habitat and wildlife management, environmental education, and cooperative partnerships with conservation agencies and landowners.

Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge was the only National Wildlife Refuge fully located and managed in the state of Kentucky, until 2019 when Green River National Wildlife Refuge was established in Henderson, KY.


You can click here to watch a video about the Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge.

How did the Clarks River get its name? You can read what history tells us here.