Resource Management


The refuge strives to mimic what once occurred naturally on the Arkansas River, a historically shallow, meandering, and ever-changing system that would seasonally create river pools, natural oxbow lakes, sloughs and shifting sandbars.

In 1943, the worst flood documented within this river system occurred and thus was born the idea to tame the Arkansas River and Verdigris tributary. The Robert S. Kerr Navigation System, managed by the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), was established with the primary purpose of assuring navigation of the Arkansas River and power generation. The new ACOE project also included an effort to protect portions of the unique habitat.

Toward this effort, the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge was established as an overlay of the ACOE lands and consists of 20,800 acres of open water and riparian areas spread throughout the 42,000 acres ACOE project.

Because water levels are managed by the ACOE, the refuge’s management actions are focused primarily on the inland wetlands. These are controlled by water structures strategically placed for wetland creation and management. Most of these wetland impoundments are dependent on natural precipitation and are managed according to water availability.

Sequoyah Refuge’s main impoundments include Armstrong Dike, Sally Jones Lake and the Upper/Lower Scarbourgh and they are intensively managed for waterfowl, shorebird and wading bird food production. Many of the wetlands around the refuge are flooded by pumping during the fall and the water levels are closely monitored to provide adequate foraging for waterfowl. During the spring, the wetlands are drained and many of them are actively managed to provide a food source for waterfowl during the winter months.