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Middle Mississippi River
National Wildlife Refuge

pair of canvasback ducks on the water
1293 Rocky Hollow Road
Rockwood, IL   62280
E-mail: middlemiss@fws.gov
Phone Number: 618-763-4420
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Waterfowl such as canvasbacks feed and rest at the refuge during migration.
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Middle Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge

All or portions of the refuge are closed due to flooding. Please contact the refuge before visiting.

The Middle Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge was established on May 31, 2000. It has three divisions - Meissner Island, near Valmeyer, Illinois; Harlow Island, near Festus, Missouri; and Wilkinson Island, near Gorham, Illinois. The refuge headquarters is co-located with Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.

"Middle Miss" Refuge is part of the Mark Twain National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The complex was established in 1958 for the protection of migratory birds and spans 350 miles along the Mississippi River in the states of Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri. It includes Port Louisa, Two Rivers, Great River, Clarence Cannon, and Middle Mississippi River refuges.

Middle Miss Refuge lands were purchased in response to the great flood of 1993 and are unique in the refuge complex. The refuge tracts lie within the uncontrolled portion of the Middle Mississippi River, below the confluence with the Missouri, where river levels are not regulated by the lock and dam system. Water levels may fluctuate greatly in this "open river" section of the Mississippi, and frequent flooding occurs on these lands.

Much of the refuge land had previously been cut off from the floodplain by private levees that protected acgricultural lands. Most of the levees were breached by the 1993 flood and will not be repaired. These lands will provide access to the floodplain for native fish during high water stages and create a corridor of floodplain forest habitat for migratory birds and resident wildlife.

Getting There . . .
From Missouri:

Take Exit 129 off of Interstate 55 at Perryville. Travel east on State Route 51, crossing over the Mississippi River near Chester, IL. Take a the stop sign and travel south on Illinois State Route 3, through the town of Chester. Continue south for approximately 7 miles and turn left on Rocky Hollow Road. Travel less than 0.2 of mile and turn left into the headquarters drive.

From Illinois:

Travel south on State Route 3 from Chester, IL for approximately 7 miles. Take left on Rocky Hollow Road. Travel north less than 0.2 miles and turn left into the headquarters drive.

Contact refuge manager at 618-763-4420, for driving directions to each division.

Get Google map and directions to this refuge/WMD from a specified address:

Your full starting address AND town and state OR zip code

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NOTE: When using this feature, you will be leaving the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service domain. We do not control the content or policies of the site you are about to visit. You should always check site policies before providing personal information or reusing content.

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

Floodplain forests provide important habitat for migratory birds, as well as resident wildlife. Former agricultural lands within the refuge are being restored to hardwood forests and native prairies.

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Historically, the Middle Mississippi river was characterized by a strong current winding through countless sandbars and forested islands. Early explorers commented on the swiftness of the current, the countless sandbars, the number of broken and downed trees in the river, and the plentiful game found on the river islands.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
Frequent flooding occurs on refuge tracts due to their position in the river floodplain. Modifications to man-made structures such as levees promotes healthy and diverse fish habitat for native Mississippi River fishes. Where possible, old river channels and swales are managed with passive water control structures to provide seasonal wetlands for migratory birds. By allowing these lands to flood and re-connect with the river, the refuge contributes to the overall health of the ecosystem.

Former agricultural lands are allowed to return to forested habitat, with the occasional tree plantings to promote species diversity and abundant food for native wildlife.

Many species of fish and wildlife will benefit from the habitat restoration, and the public will have increased opportunities for wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation.