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Holla Bend
National Wildlife Refuge

10448 Holla Bend Road
Dardanelle, AR   72834
E-mail: hollabend@fws.gov
Phone Number: 479-229-4300
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The Wood Duck is one of over 250 bird species that utilize Holla Bend's rich habitat
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Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge

Holla Bend NWR, established in 1957, is located 8 miles down river from Dardanelle, Arkansas. The refuge is situated on a bend of the Arkansas River which was cut off when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers straightened the river in 1954 for flood control. Refuge lands include over 7,000 acres of agricultural fields, bottomland forest, and open water.

The refuge's primary purpose is to provide a winter home for a portion of the millions of ducks and geese that use the Mississippi Flyway each year. During these spring and fall migrations as many as fourteen species of ducks and four kinds of geese will stop by the refuge for a short visit. During the winter, it is not uncommon for the refuge to host up to 100,000 ducks and geese at once. Bald eagles are also common in the winter from December through February.

Spring brings thousands of neotropical migratory songbirds that use the refuge as a rest area on their journey from Central and South America. Many species of vireos, warblers, buntings, and orioles inhabit the woodlands, during this time. Most only stay for a short time to rest, but others use the refuge as a nesting area. Herons, egrets, and other wading birds feed in shallow pools and alligators can be seen in the refuge lakes and ponds.

Getting There . . .
Holla Bend NWR is located about 5 miles southeast of Dardanelle, Arkansas. From Dardanelle, take State Highway 7 South to State Highway 155 East and go about 4 miles to the refuge entrance. Once you enter the refuge the office/visitor area is about 1/2 mile down the road on the right.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Refuge lands include agricultural fields, bottomland forest, and open waters. Portions of Holla Bends wetlands were bottomlands surrounding remnants of the old Arkansas River channel. The largest open-water portion of the old river bed consist of approximately 390 acres. The remainder of the old channel has filled in leaving three small lakes connected by shallow willow sloughs. The other wetlands areas on the refuge consist of impoundments scattered throughout refuge farm fields. These units produce a variety of natural foods including a predominance of smartweeds, as well as sedges and panicums.

The Refuge supports a wide diversity of wildlife, including three endangered and threatened species: the bald eagle, American alligator and the Arkansas endangered barn owl. Eagles can be seen along the river and field impoundments in the winter months along with migratory and resident waterfowl. Alligators stay close to the small lakes and willow sloughs feeding on fish and unlucky wading birds. Barn owls use nest boxes under the Refuge equipment shed and their nest can be seen in thick willow stands along the old river channel. Other commonly seen wildlife species include raccoon, bobcats, deer, turkey, egrets, herons and gulls.

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In the early 1900s more than 65 families resided in the area and farmed the rich bottomland soil. A disastrous flood inundated the area in 1927; that event and subsequent floods deposited up to four feet of sand over the area forcing farmers to go elsewhere to pursue their livelihood. The Army Corps of Engineers took over the land and cut a channel through the bend in the river for navigation and flood control.

By the time the land was given to the Fish and Wildlife Service, the entire area was grown up in scrub timber. Farming acreage was cleared and soil conservation measures were undertaken. A few years later and a lot of hard work turned the Refuge into a wildlife haven.

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Management Activities
The primary goals of the habitat management programs at Holla Bend NWR is to provide feeding and resting areas for migratory waterfowl. Cropland management and the use of cooperative farmers is the main tool for accomplishing this goal. These farmers plant milo, soybeans, corn, and winter wheat. The soybeans and milo are harvested by the farmers while the corn and wheat are left as food for the wintering waterfowl. Other refuge residents also benefit from this practice, such as deer, turkey, and quail.

Scattered among these farm fields are several small impoundments. These areas are not wet all year and when they dry up in the summer, plants such as millet and smartweed will grow there. These plants and especially their seeds are very important to waterfowl because they are a high source of energy. In the winter these areas fill with water again and are very popular as a food source for the ducks that spend the winter here. The refuge plants bottomland tree species in areas along the old river channel and allows refuge farmers to hay fallow farm fields to maintain some tall and short grass areas.

The old Arkansas River channel borders three sides of the refuge and in the winter serves as an excellent night roosting site for all the migratory waterfowl using the refuge. Together the farm fields, water impoundments and old river channel provide a wonderful home for winter waterfowl and other refuge wildlife.