U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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Two Rivers
National Wildlife Refuge

green heron behind branches, with water in background
HC 82, Box 107 (Hagen Road)
Brussels, IL   62013
E-mail: tworivers@fws.gov
Phone Number: 618-883-2524
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Managers at Two Rivers Refuge control water levels to benefit species such as the green heron.
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The Mark Twain National Wildlife Refuge was first established in 1958 as a single refuge totaling 20,469 acres. Land for the refuge was originally purchased by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for construction of the nine-foot navigation channel on the Mississippi River. Lands excess to the project came under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service management through a cooperative agreement in 1963.

The navigation and flood control projects dramatically altered natural water level cycles in the river. Sediment from soil-erosion-filled wetlands reduced water clarity, destroyed fish spawning grounds, and prevented the growth of aquatic vegetation. Hundreds of thousands of acres of floodplain forest and prairie were lost to agriculture and other development.

Starting in 1964, other areas were added to Mark Twain Refuge, increasing the refuge's size to 45,000 acres scattered along 345 miles of the Mississippi River and short distances up the Illinois and Iowa rivers. During this time, the use of the name "Mark Twain" drastically increased in the surrounding communities, resulting is serious confusion about what the refuge was and where it was located.

In June 2000, the Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service approved a change in the refuge's organizational structure. It then became known as the Mark Twain National Wildlife Refuge Complex and was structured into five separate national wildlife refuges - Port Louisa Refuge, Middle Mississippi River Refuge, Two Rivers Refuge, Great River Refuge, and Clarence Cannon Refuge. The change helped local residents and visitors differentiate the individual refuges from state wildlife areas and other facilities.

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