Tishomingo Refuge Rebuilds in Oklahoma


March 28, 2016 - Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge will rebuild facilities damaged by the historic 2015 floods in southern Oklahoma thanks to $3 million allocated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the construction of a new headquarters and maintenance facility.

Eighty-five percent of the refuge was under water for almost three months. The Chickasaw Nation has generously provided a temporary office for employees until June 1.

 “This has been an example of how the federal government can work with local communities to help in recovery during natural disasters. The refuge not only provides recreational and educational opportunities for families seeking to enjoy nature, but it also brings needed tax dollars to area communities,” said Congressman Markwayne Mullin.  

Roads on the refuge have reopened, but many buildings and wildlife viewing areas sustained severe damage and are still closed, including the wildlife observation tower and a popular fishing dock at Murray 23. The Craven trail boardwalk is expected to be rebuilt by the end of the summer. Refuge education specialist Joanne Ryan says many interpretive waysides and spotting scopes were also washed away or damaged. 

But spring has come to the prairies and meadows, where the Chickasaw Nation is partnering with Tishomingo Refuge to plant milkweed and other native wildflowers to restore pollinator habitat.  Ryan adds, “We are planning to have our annual education day on the refuge (Arbuckle Simpson Nature Festival on April 28) to educate the public about the refuge, our mission and to demonstrate that we will carry on. We encourage the public to celebrate the regrowth, the rebuilding and the resilience of nature.”

At one point during the December 2015 floods, flood waters were 18 feet deep near Tishomingo, OK.
Photo: USFWS

A sure sign of spring - blossoms of the Oklahoma state tree, the Eastern red bud - now blooming at the refuge.
Photo: USFWS