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Trinity River
National Wildlife Refuge

This scenic view is of Anders Pond in the fall.
601 FM 1011
Liberty, TX   77575
E-mail: fws2_rw_trinityriver@fws.go
Phone Number: 936-336-9786
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Anders Pond is one of the bottomland hardwood areas found at Trinity River NWR.
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Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge
Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge was established on January 4, 1994 with an initial purchase of 4,400 acres. Since that time, the refuge has acquired additional acreage which now totals 25,000 acres. The primary purpose of establishing this refuge is to protect a portion of the bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem along the Trinity River located in southeastern Texas. The refuge, which is a remnant of what was once a much larger natural area is a broad flat floodplain made up of numerous sloughs, oxbow lakes, artesian wells, and tributaries.

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Wildlife and Habitat

The Trinity River floodplain contains a diversity of wetland habitats including bottomland hardwood forests, forested swamps, open water and wet pastures. Upland areas outside the floodplain contain cultivated pastures, natural pine forests, and mixed pine-hardwood forests.

The refuge provides important breeding, wintering, and stopover habitat for a variety of migratory wildlife including waterfowl and numerous neotropical songbirds. More than 275 species of birds occur in the bottomland forests and associated wetlands in eastern Texas and 100 bird species are known to breed there. It has been documented that Trinity River NWR contains over 630 plant species and over 400 vertebrate species.

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The Trinity River is within the heartland of the Caddo Indian Tribe. Archeological sites near the Refuge point to sedentary and long-term occupation of the area by ancestral Caddo people. The Caddo in this area were part of the great mound-building culture of east Texas and adjoining forested lands, a society with a high artistic and architectural tradition which dominated the region for 1,000 years. Lands within the Trinity River Refuge were later a peripheral part of the 1857 Mexican settlement of Atascosito.

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Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
The invasion of the highly aggressive Chinese tallow tree throughout the refuge is a cause for concern. This exotic tree can alter the native habitat within a few years, so it must be controlled using herbicides. This is also the case with Giant Salvinia, an exotic water fern, that was found in Champion Lake during 2000. Although Salvinia is not found in this lake anymore due to floods washing it away, it is found on many other small ponds on and off the refuge that are completely covered by the fern. There is no easy way to control this aggressive exotic. The same can be said for another exotic species, the feral hog, which is causing major damage to native habitat on the refuge.

Tree planting is another management tool utilized at the refuge. When tracts are purchased, some are devoid of trees because of prior agricultural uses. Since 1995, over 70,000 oak, ash, and cypress bare-root seedlings have been planted throughout the refuge. Although our primary reason for planting is to restore a bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem, there are some secondary benefits. Since these areas are preserved in perpetuity, these plantings serve as a great way to sequester carbon, a major cause of greenhouse gases.

The refuge plays host to the Rafinesque’s big-eared bat, a state-threatened species. These cavity roosting bats require hollow trees to survive cold in the winter and raise their pups in the early summer. Older tupelo and cypress trees found on the refuge provide at least 10 known roosting sites in the relatively young forest, however the approximately 100 bats spend most of their time in artificial roost structures shaped like towers provided by Bat Conservation International for the refuge. These towers are where the bats spend most of their time as the species waits for the forest to grow older and provide more hollow trees. Refuge staff takes advantage of the easy-to-access towers by regularly counting the bats, tagging, and radiotracking. The radiotracking efforts help study the maternity colony, allowing us to learn more about the little known habits of this rare and mysterious bat.