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Port Louisa
National Wildlife Refuge

male wood duck
10728 County Rd X61
Wapello, IA   52653
E-mail: portlouisa@fws.gov
Phone Number: 319-523-6982
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Port Louisa Refuge provides resting and feeding habitat for migratory waterfowl, such as wood ducks.
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Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge

The Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge comprises over 8,373 acres, divided into four separate divisions: Big Timber, Louisa, Keithsburg, and Horseshoe Bend. Three divisions - Big Timber, Louisa, and Keithsburg - are located in the floodplain of the Mississippi River, while Horseshoe Bend is in the Iowa River floodplain.

All refuge divisions are within the famous Mississippi Flyway, one of the nation's most important migration routes. In fact, the primary refuge management objective is to provide waterfowl and migratory birds with food, water, and protection during the spring and fall migration.

Each refuge division has unique characteristics. The Louisa Division is the most intensively managed via water-level manipulation, controlled burning, grassland management, and tree planting activities. Big Timber is a forested backwater slough open to the Mississippi River. Keithsburg is a forested backwater slough leveed off from the Mississippi. The newest division, Horseshoe Bend, is being restored to native vegetation, including bottomland hardwoods, wetlands, and native prairie. It is open to floodwaters of the Iowa River.

The Iowa River Corridor is managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in cooperation with the National Wildlife Refuge System. The corridor is approximately 10,000 acres of restored floodplain on the Iowa River between Tama and the Amana colonies. Designated areas are open to hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife observation and interpretation subject to State regulations.

Getting There . . .
From Highway 61 in Wapello, turn east on Highway 99. Pass through Wapello and cross the Iowa River, then turn left on County Road G62. Follow G62 for 3.5 miles until a stop sign. Turn north (left) at this intersection, which is County Road X61, and follow it for 1.4 miles. The refuge headquarters is on the east (right) side of the road. Please visit the refuge headquarters for detailed directions and maps to refuge divisions.

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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Port Louisa Refuge is a mosaic of wetlands, bottomland forest, and prairie. Each habitat type plays an important role in providing the resources necessary to support a rich diversity of fish and wildlife.

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Historically, the Mississippi River was an ever-changing system of sloughs, islands, sandbars, and water. Annual floods changed the course of the river, created new wetlands, deposited nutrient-rich sediments on forests and prairies, and provided spawning habitat for fish. The natural water level situation provided a variety of rich habitat for a diverse number of wildlife species.

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Management Activities
Refuge staff manage wetland units to mimic the natural fluctuations in water level that once occurred along the Mississippi River. These fluctuations in water levels allow the best conditions for aquatic plant growth to support a variety of migratory birds.

Grasslands are a key component of the corridor ecosystem. The refuge uses restoration techniques such as replanting and controlled burning to maintain healthy stands. Since grasslands evolved with fire, it is important to use fire to invigorate grasslands.

Routine law enforcement patrols are conducted to protect refuge resources and to provide for visitor safety.