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Clarks River
National Wildlife Refuge

A frog at Clarks River.
91 US Hwy 641N
Benton KY , KY   42025
E-mail: clarksriver@fws.gov
Phone Number: 270-527-5770
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
A frog at Clarks River.
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Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge

Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1997 and the first track of land was purchased in 1998, so it is relatively new refuge. It is the only National Wildlife Refuge in the state of Kentucky and is comprised of one of the largest remaining bottomland hardwood forests in the region.

Bottomland hardwood forests are one of the most biologically productive ecosystems on land, and the rich moist soils from seasonal flooding nourish an explosion of wildlife diversity.

Freshwater mussels, amphibians, fish, and mammals are all found in abundance here, and migratory songbirds and waterfowl take advantage of this rich habitat on their long flights from nesting to wintering grounds. This diversity and abundance of wildlife provides ample hunting, fishing, and other recreational opportunities. Clarks River NWR protects, manages, and enhances this ecosystem and healthy and viable populations of wildlife found here through habitat and wildlife management, environmental education, and cooperative partnerships with conservation agencies and landowners.

Getting There . . .
Directions to Refuge Headquarters:

From I-24, Exit 25- I-69/Purchase Parkway south; to Exit 43- Benton/Symsonia to Benton; left on Hwy US 641 North (3rd stoplight); Clarks River NWR is ~1 mile on left on Hwy 641.

Directions to Environmental Education and Recreation Area:

From I-69/Purchase Parkway, Exit 43- Benton Exit, turn right onto Hwy. 348 east; right on Hwy US 641 south (3rd stoplight); left on Hwy 408 east (second stoplight); Environmental Education and Recreation Area is ~1 mile on the right.

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

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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

The purpose of the Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge is to protect, enhance, and manage a valuable bottomland wetland ecosystem, along the East and West Forks of the Clarks River, for the benefit of waterfowl, neotropical migratory songbirds, forest wildlife, riverine species, and a wide array of other species associated with bottomland hardwood forest.

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The Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge was first identified as a high priority site for protection in 1978 by the Service’s Bottomland Hardwood Preservation Program. In 1991, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources asked the service to consider the site for protection as a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
The refuge manages approximately 98 acres of native grasslands to benefit white-tailed deer, turkey, quail, migratory songbirds and small mammals. More native grass fields will be established as appropriate habitat is acquired.

Some areas of the refuge, once forested lands, were converted to agriculture and pasture decades ago. The refuge maintains many of these fields through a cooperative farming program. During drier years, soybean and corn crops are grown with good yields; however, crops planted early in the year are frequently lost to flooding. Cooperative farmers are required to use filter strips or buffers in active fields adjacent to the Clarks River or any of its tributaries.

The refuge identified farm fields that became most frequently flooded and began reforestation of these unproductive farmed wetlands in the winter of 2006. Species planted in these areas include American elm, bald cypress, bitternut hickory, shellbark hickory, northern pecan, persimmon and seven species of oaks. Other tree species are allowed to colonize the site naturally. To date, approximately 335 acres have been reforested.

A primary purpose of the refuge is to support the goals and objectives of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Six impoundments have been created since the refuge was established to enhance wildlife management opportunities. All 6 impoundments, combined, provide approximately 214 acres of manageable habitat in the form of standing agricultural crops and wetland plants grown through active moist soil management.