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Red River
National Wildlife Refuge

Left to right: Blue-winged teal, Interior least tern, Bobcat. Credit: Ronnie Maum, USFWS
150 Eagle Bend Point
Bossier City, LA   71112
E-mail: redriver@fws.gov
Phone Number: 318-742-1219
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Left to right: Blue-winged teal, Interior least tern, Bobcat. Credit: Ronnie Maum, USFWS
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Red River National Wildlife Refuge

The Red River National Wildlife Refuge was signed into law on October 13, 2000 by President Bill Clinton. In August 2002, the refuge dedication was held after the first 1377 acres were purchased at the refuge’s Spanish Lake Lowlands focus area. The legislation that established the refuge stated that the refuge shall consist of up to 50,000 acres of federal lands and water along that section of the Red River between Colfax, Louisiana and the Arkansas state line, a distance of approximately 120 miles. Currently the Service has acquired over 10,600 acres in Bossier, Caddo, Red River, Desoto and Natchitoches Parishes with other lands in the acquisition phase.

The four units of the refuge are: (acreage is current as of July 2009)

Lower Cane River (Natchitoches Parish) 3150 acres with 4000 acres under a management agreement with The Conservation Fund.

Spanish Lake Lowlands (Natchitoches Parish) 2800 acres

Bayou Pierre Floodplain (Desoto and Red River Parishes) 4000 acres

Headquarters (Caddo and Bossier Parish) 650 acres

Wardview (Caddo and Bossier Parish) No land has been purchased at this time

The Red River Basin was historically forested with bottomland hardwoods, cypress sloughs and shrub swamps. Today, there is very little unaltered habitat. Beginning in the early 1800’s, land has been cleared for farming and development. Much of the land purchased for the refuge was fallow farmland and pastures. In efforts to restore habitat, over 7,000 acres has been reforested into bottomland hardwood forest. Partnerships between the US Fish and Wildlife Service and The Conservation Fund have resulted in Red River NWR receiving the Gold Level Validation under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCB) standards for a 1,182 acre forest carbon sequestration project at the Lower Cane Unit.

Red River NWR is a critical stop over point for migratory birds and provides crucial wintering grounds for waterfowl and wading birds. Over 80,000 waterfowl utilize the refuge for feeding and resting annually and over 200 species of neo-tropical migratory song birds seek refuge here. The refuge is situated in the West Gulf Coastal Plain Conservation Region, the Lower Mississippi River Ecosystem and in the confluence of the Central and Mississippi flyways.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Habitat types include shrub/scrub, open grassland, cypress sloughs, sandbars, various stages of reforested agriculture lands, batture and bottomland hardwood forest and moist soil impoundments. The refuge also has numerous oxbow lakes, bayous, rivers, irrigation ditches and reservoirs. With such a diverse array of habitats, Red River NWR supports an abundance of wildlife including over 44 species of mammals, more than 70 species of reptiles and amphibians, over 106 fish species, more than 200 species of migratory birds, 25 species of waterfowl and an array of plant life. Priority species for conservation found on the refuge include the cerulean warbler, Swainson’s warbler, the endangered least tern, the recently delisted bald eagle, the American alligator, alligator snapping turtle, rusty blackbird, Rafinesque’s big-eared bat, southern myotis bat and endangered pallid sturgeon.

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Management Activities
The refuge was established to provide for the restoration and conservation of native plants and animal communities on suitable sites in the Red River Basin, to provide habitat for migratory birds and to provide technical assistance to private landowners in the restoration of their lands for the benefit of fish and wildlife.

The refuge has restored over 7,500 acres of fallow farmland through reforestation. Restoration efforts will continue with the acquisition of new lands of which most will be fallow farm and pasture lands. The reforestation has taken place over several years thus providing a diversity of habitats for neo-tropical migratory songbirds and other important wildlife species.

There is an invasive species removal program to restore the native plants and animal communities of the Red River flood basin. Efforts to remove all of the non-native invasive species from the refuge will be a long-term effort due primarily to reintroduction of invasives from neighboring properties and agricultural lands. The refuge manages approximately 1,500 acres of moist soil impoundments for wintering waterfowl and migrating shorebirds. With the aid of cooperative farming, over 80,000 waterfowl utilized the refuge’s moist soil impoundments in 2008. Also, a long-term wood duck management program has been successful in increasing reproduction for this the refuge’s resident species.

Partnerships between the refuge staff and private land owners are continually being forged. Some issues that management is assisting with include invasive species removal, endangered species protection and habitat restoration. The refuge has partnered with private land owners to protect and improve habit for the federally endangered Interior Least Tern.