National Wildlife Refuge
|234 Fort Prudhomme Drive
Henning, TN 39041
Phone Number: 731-738-2296
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|The uniqueness of Lower Hatchie NWR is enjoyed by thousands of wintering waterfowl annually.|
Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge
Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) sits along the lower 17 miles of the Hatchie River in western Tennessee. Unlike most Mississippi River tributaries that have been straightened and levees constructed for flood control, the Hatchie River remains the longest continuous stretch of naturally meandering river in the lower Mississippi River Valley. In result, wildlife and fisheries thrive in its almost pristine watershed ecosystems. The refuge helps protect and enhance the ever diminishing bottomland hardwood forests, along with other important habitats within the Hatchie River watershed. The refuge currently comprises 9,451 acres.
Getting There . . .
Lower Hatchie NWR is located north of Memphis between Covington and Ripley, west of Highway 51N on Highway 87W. The refuge headquarters is located approximately 18 miles down Highway 87W on the left (sign will read Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge) just before the Mississippi River.
Sunk Lake PUNA is located off Highway 87W; take Sunk Lake Road to the right after passing Woodard's Grocery. The main entrance (i.e. look for the sign and gate) to the southern unit is approximately 4 miles down Sunk Lake Road on the right.
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The managed impoundments within the sanctuary of the refuge are an extremely important component of refuge management. They are also the center of attraction to visitors and are the primary means of active wildlife management on the area. Refuge managers are able to manipulate the natural ecosystem through a network of levees and water control structures to enhance wildlife habitat at vital times throughout the year.
"Moist-soil" management is a process in which flooding of an impoundment is controlled to produce varying results. The frequency, depth, and duration of flooding are managed to influence plant community succession over time. Yearly cycles in moist-soil management often include lowering water levels in spring to accommodate migrating shorebirds, and additional lowering of summer levels to stimulate desired plant species growth. In fall, impoundments are gradually flooded to accommodate wintering waterfowl and other wildlife species. This manipulated system mimics the natural floodplain system, so plant species tied to wetland ecosystems thrive in this type of management scheme with little or no effort except for water control.
Cooperative farming is also a management technique utilized during summer to grow desirable "hot foods" for wintering waterfowl. The refuge currently has 1,278 acres of cropland/moist soil. This process also enables managers to set back plant succession through soil disturbance to stimulate the growth of annual plants (i.e. which produce a large number of seeds for waterfowl) in following years when the impoundment is set aside for moist-soil management. Therefore, water management in the sanctuary benefits a whole host of wildlife species and is the center of management activities on the area.
More than 6,000 acres of forested habitats, including cypress swamps, bottomland hardwoods, and upland hardwoods are managed through timber stand improvements, reforestation, and water level management to benefit wildlife.
As part of the lease agreement for the management of Sunk Lake (PUNA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is primarily responsible for resource protection, maintenance of the boat access and boardwalk areas, boundary maintenance, along with biological research and data collection. Other management activities include reforestation and wetland forest management practices that benefit wildlife.