The Patoka River in Southwest Indiana had long been recognized for its wetland and wildlife values on a local, statewide and regional basis. Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge and Management Area was established in 1994 under the authority of the Emergency Wetlands Resource Act to protect one of the few remaining expanses of bottomland forested wetlands in the midwestern United States and one of two intact floodplain forest systems within Indiana. The authorized boundary (also known as the “acquisition boundary”) – which delineates where the Service can acquire property from willing sellers – encompasses 23,743 acres of wetlands, floodplain forest and upland buffer along 30 miles of the Patoka River corridor.
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. All activities allowed on refuges must be evaluated to make sure each activity will not conflict with the reason the refuge was founded.
The purpose of the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area is to conserve wetlands, migratory bird habitat and to protect, enhance, restore and manage a diversity of habitat types for native plant and animal life.
September 7, 1994 - The refuge was established under the authority of the Emergency Wetlands Resource Act and includes up to 23,743 acres within the current acquisition boundary.
Other Facilities in this Complex
Cane Ridge Wildlife Management Area
24 miles west of the refuge headquarters is the 466 acre Cane Ridge Wildlife Manangement Area. This property is south of the confluence of the Patoka River with the Wabash River. It lies off the southwest side of the 3,000 acre Gibson Lake created as a cooling pond for Duke Energy’s Gibson Station Power Plant. It was formerly row crop agriculture but was converted into a 70 acre Interior least tern nesting pool along with 193 acres of moist-soil management. After creation of the tern pool and moist-soil units in 2005, this area became a significant attractant to ducks, geese, shorebirds, marshbirds and wading birds. The management area is designated as an Audubon Important Bird Area.
White River Bottoms Wildlife Management Area
Nine miles north of the refuge headquarters is the 219 acre White River Bottoms Wildlife Management Area. This area is not technically part of the refuge acquisition area, but the land was transferred to the National Wildlife Refuge System in 1994 by the Farm Service Agency. This management area was restored from agricultural fields and planted to bottomland hardwood trees and is managed by Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge and Management Area.