Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1986 (formerly Oklahoma Bat Caves National Wildlife Refuge until 1995) to protect the federally threatened and endangered species found in the Ozark Plateau’s cave system, including the Ozark big-eared bat, gray bat, Indiana bat and Ozark cave fish. Above ground, the surface of this elaborate underground labyrinth is an old forest comprised of oak, hickory and ash, as well as rolling hills and rocky outcroppings. Many of the plant and animal species found here are not only specific to the Ozark Plateau but because of their isolated environment, are unique to the caves or springs in which they are found.
Located in eastern Oklahoma, it is on the southwest edge of the Ozark Plateau and Boston mountains. The refuge consists of nine separate units covering four counties and totaling approximately 4,300 acres.
The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management and, where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.
Everywas created for a special purpose. Some were created to protect migratory birds, others to protect threatened or endangered species or unique habitats, while others fulfill another special purpose. Refuges are special places where wildlife comes first. All activities allowed on refuges must be evaluated to make sure each activity will not conflict with the reason the refuge was founded.
1985 - The Fish and Wildlife Service acquired the first track for federally listed Ozark cave species recovery and protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Apr. 1, 1986 – Oklahoma Bat Caves National Wildlife Refuge was established.
1995 – Oklahoma Bat Caves National Wildlife Refuge changed its name to Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge to reflect the actual landscape and ecosystem.
Other Facilities in this Complex
Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge is complexed and managed from Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge.