Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1958 to protect and enhance habitat for migratory birds. Located between the Mississippi River and Illinois River, the refuge encompasses 9,225 acres of floodplain habitat scattered around the confluence of the rivers. The mosaic of wetlands, open water, bottomland forests, and prairies provide habitat for numerous mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, and nearly three hundred bird species. The Duncan Farm area of the Gilbert Lake Division is known for an American Indian mound, identified as an important cultural resource, and a population of decurrent false aster, a Federally threatened plant species. Two Rivers is recognized as an urban refuge due to our proximity to St. Louis. The Refuge hosts and participates in a suite of environmental education opportunities to people of all ages.
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.
Every was 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.
The purpose of Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge is to serve as an inviolate sanctuary for migratory birds. The Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Act uses money from Duck Stamp sales to purchase refuge lands. Many lands purchased with Duck Stamp funds were defined as inviolate sanctuaries. These lands, under most circumstances, must be at least partially closed to migratory birds hunting to allow birds a place of refuge and protection where they cannot be harmed.
Before colonization of the America’s, Indigenous peoples and nations used the land that is now Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge. Based on contemporary maps, we acknowledge the land we manage was once traditional land of the Kaskaskia, Kickapoo, Myaamia, Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Osage, Peoria, and Potawatomi territories.
November 1946-1958 – Calhoun Refuge was established and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, however, the land itself belonged to the War Department for use of navigation and flood-control.
October 1947 – Batchtown Refuge was established and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, however, like Calhoun Refuge the land belonged to the War Department for use of navigation and flood-control.
October 1949 – Lawler and Portage Islands in the Mississippi River in St. Charles Co, MO are added to Calhoun Refuge.
August 1958 – Mark Twain National Wildlife Refuge (hereafter Mark Twain NWR) was established. Mark Twain NWR was later divided into several stand-alone refuges, including Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge. During the time when the refuge was managed as Mark Twain NWR, lands that would become part of Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge were referred to as Calhoun and Batchtown units. The Calhoun Unit at the time included Swan Lake (now part of the Calhoun Division) and Gilbert Lake (now part of the Gilbert Lake Division).
February 1967 – Mark Twain NWR acquired 102 acres of land in Calhoun Co, Illinois, connecting existing pieces of refuge land.
March 1967 – Mark Twain NWR acquired 0.85 acres of land in Calhoun Co, Illinois, connecting existing pieces of refuge land.
April 1967 – Mark Twain NWR acquired 64 acres of land in Calhoun Co, Illinois, connecting existing pieces of refuge land.
September 1967 – Mark Twain NWR acquired 628 acres of land in Calhoun Co, Illinois.
1978 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designate Clarksville Island (not yet part of the Refuge) as a Unique and Nationally Significant Wildlife Ecosystem. The island contained a great egret rookery (at the time an Illinois state-listed endangered species), and served as an important stopover site for bald eagles.
June 1995 – Mark Twain NWR acquired 2.3 acres of land designated as FEMA property after the Flood of 1993, in Calhoun Co, Illinois.
2000 – Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge was established after lands that made up Mark Twain NWR were divided into several stand-alone refuges.
2011 – Clarksville Island is purchased by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and becomes part of Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge.