About the Refuge


Mathews Brake National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 2,418 acres in west-central Mississippi. Established in 1980, the refuge is one of seven national wildlife refuges in the Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The primary habitat feature is Mathews Brake, the largest brake in Leflore County. Each winter the brake provides habitat for over 30,000 ducks.

Mathews Brake NWR was established in 1980 via the Migratory Bird Conservation Act. Land acquisition began with the initial purchase of 803 acres in September 1980. Additional fee title purchases in 1986 and 1989 of 960 and 651 acres respectively, brought the total acreage to 2,418. The refuge is located in the Yazoo River Basin on the eastern edge of the Mississippi River Valley in Holmes and Leflore counties.

The refuge’s primary purpose is to provide habitat for wintering and resident waterfowl. Management goals include preservation of deep water areas as well as mast producing hardwood ridges.

Deep water and bottomland hardwoods make Mathews Brake attractive to migratory bird species throughout the year. The brake’s permanent water serves as a valuable resting area for large numbers of migrating ducks during fall and winter.

Mallards, widgeon, gadwall, blue-winged teal and pintails seek shelter and feed in refuge wetlands throughout the winter months. The cypress trees in and around the brake provide excellent nesting habitat for resident wood ducks. Many species of songbirds, shorebirds and wading birds utilize the refuge throughout the year.