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Lake Isom
National Wildlife Refuge

4343 Highway 157
Union City, TN   38261
E-mail: reelfoot@fws.gov
Phone Number: 731-538-2481
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A resident pair of Bald Eagles have successfully nested on the shore of Lake Isom since 1988. The abundant fish populations, and numerous wintering waterfowl make the refuge a
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Lake Isom National Wildlife Refuge

Lake Isom National Wildlife Refuge was established as an inviolate sanctuary for wintering waterfowl in 1938 by presidential proclamation. Lake Isom is the oldest refuge in Tennessee and encompasses some 1,850 acres of migratory bird habitat surrounding Lake Isom. The proximity of Lake Isom to the Mississippi river has always made the area a major stopover and wintering ground for migratory waterfowl.

Getting There . . .
Refuge Headquarters are located approximately 15 miles southwest of Union City Tennessee. From union City take highway 22 north apprximately 15 miles, turn right on highway 157, refuge headquarters is located exactly 1 mile on left. Lake Isom is located approximately 3 miles south of Reelfoot Lake.

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Wildlife and Habitat

The refuges proximity to Reelfoot Lake and the Mississippi River has made it a major stop-over and wintering area for large concentrations of waterfowl within the Mississippi flyway. Wintering concentrations of mallards may exceed 100,000 birds, and during extreme winters concentrations of Canada geese may exceed 30,000. With numerous other waterfowl species utilizing the refuge during the winter, spectacular concentrations of waterfowl can often be viewed at the refuges observation areas. The bountiful waterfowl resources, as well as the tremendous fisheries resources make the lake a haven for both nesting and wintering Bald Eagles. Several Bald eagles will spend the majority of their winter on and around Lake Isom. In addition to the wintering concentrations, one pair has successfully nested and reared their young on the lake since 1988. Some 239 species of birds have been documented on the refuge, along with 52 species of mammals, and 75 species of reptiles and amphibians..

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During the winter of 1811-12, a series of some 1,874 recorded tremors within the New Madrid fault dramatically altered the landscape over some 30-50,000 square miles and left Lake Isom in its wake. The refuge, which is located only three miles south of Reelfoot Lake, was originally connected to Reelfoot Lake through a series of sloughs and marshy areas. Due to accelerated land clearing and drainage for agriculture, the lake soon became isolated from Reelfoot Lake and formed this shallow floodplain wetland area now covering approximately 650 acres. The refuge was established in part to protect this unique miniature version of the adjacent Reelfoot Lake. This unmanned refuge is managed by staff from nearby Reelfoot NWR.

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Management Activities
Water level Management on the 600 acre Lake Isom is conducted to benefit wintering waterfowl and other birds. Seasonal drawdowns promote the establishment of aquatic vegetation which provides an excellent food source for wetland dependant migrants. Approximately 400 acres of refuge lands are managed under cooperative farming agreements, providing winter food for the refuge's resident wildlife species as well as wintering waterfowl.

Some 150 acres of moist soil units are managed to provide habitat for a variety of neotropical migrants, as well as migrating shorebirds and wintering waterfowl.

More than 600 acres of forested habitats, including cypress swamps and bottomland hardwoods are managed through timber stand improvements, reforestation, and water level management to benefit wildlife.

Aerial surveys are conducted during the winter months to monitor waterfowl and eagle populations as well as nesting activities of Bald Eagles.

Artificial nesting structures are maintained on the refuge for both eastern bluebirds and wood ducks. These structures are monitored annually and provide nesting and roost sites for a variety of wildlife species.