Our Mission

“Refuges within the Central Arkansas NWR Complex will be conserved and managed as havens for migratory birds, especially waterfowl, in a region of the continent critically important for their survival. Working with partners, the Service will protect, restore, and enhance bottomland hardwood forest ecosystems, wintering waterfowl habitats, and other fish and wildlife habitats for the benefit of the American public. The Service will provide opportunities for the public to use and enjoy these refuges in a way that safeguards their values and promotes awareness of their importance (USFWS 2009a).”

Each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System is established to serve a statutory purpose that targets the conservation of native species dependent on its lands and waters. All activities on those acres are reviewed for compatibility with this statutory purpose.

Wapanocca NWR’s official purpose is:

  • “…for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purposes, for migratory birds.” 16 U.S.C. 715d (Migratory Bird Conservation Act)

Our History

The refuge was created when the 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 an old-growth baldcypress forest that 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 can find a winter home and be enjoyed by all.

Read about the refuge's history, wildlife, and more here: Wapanocca NWR - General Brochure

Other Facilities in this Complex

A National Wildlife Refuge Complex is an administrative grouping of two or more refuges, wildlife management areas, or other refuge conservation areas that are primarily managed from a central office location. Refuges are grouped into a complex  structure structure
Something temporarily or permanently constructed, built, or placed; and constructed of natural or manufactured parts including, but not limited to, a building, shed, cabin, porch, bridge, walkway, stair steps, sign, landing, platform, dock, rack, fence, telecommunication device, antennae, fish…

Learn more about structure
 because they occur in a similar ecological region, such as a watershed or specific habitat type, and have a related purpose and management needs. Typically, a project leader or complex manager oversees the general management of all refuges within the complex and refuge managers are responsible for operations at specific refuges. Supporting staff, composed of administrative, law enforcement, refuge manager, biological, fire, visitor services, and maintenance professionals, are centrally located and support all refuges within the complex.