About the Refuge

Station Photo Credit  Kelly Davis Wapanocca Lake Deer

Wapanocca Lake Deer

Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge was established in January, 1961 as a sanctuary for migratory waterfowl. The refuge is literally an island of forest in a sea of agriculture. Lying only four miles west of the Mississippi River and 15 miles northwest of Memphis, the refuge is an important stopover for waterfowl traveling the Mississippi Flyway and for neotropical song birds as they migrate to and from Central and South America.

The refuge was formed when Wapanocca Outing Club agreed to sell the original piece of land to the USFWS after successfully lobbying Congress. Wapanocca Outing Club was founded in 1886 when a group of Memphis waterfowl hunters purchased Wapanocca Lake. Club member Nash Buckingham, a famous outdoor writer, developed a passion for conservation while hunting at Wapanocca.

Wapanocca Lake formed 5,000 years ago when the Mississippi River changed course. The lake is surrounded by old-growth baldcypress forest which remains flooded year-round. The water elevation in the lake normally drops two feet during hot, dry summers and refills during winter rains. The refuge manages Wapanocca Lake and the surrounding bottomland hardwood forest to provide high quality habitat for wintering waterfowl and breeding forest birds. It is one of the last areas in the Arkansas Delta where large concentrations of waterfowl find a winter home and can be enjoyed by all.