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Coldwater River
National Wildlife Refuge

2776 Sunset Drive
(mailing address)
Grenada, MS   38901
E-mail: FW4RWNorthMSRefuges@fws.gov
Phone Number: (662) 226-8286
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Coldwater River NWR hosts a variety of shorebirds as they migrate south during fall migration.
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Coldwater River National Wildlife Refuge

The Coldwater National Wildlife Refuge is located in northwest Mississippi, 4 ½ miles south of the town of Crowder. Established in 2000, this small refuge consists of 2,069 acres within an acquisition boundary of 16,000 acres. The centerpiece of the refuge is 25 old catfish ponds ranging in size from 9 to 21 acres and totaling 495 acres. These ponds are intensively managed for migrating waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds. A majority of the refuge has been reforested in native bottomland hardwood species. Almost the entire refuge is flooded annually during the winter/spring by the Coldwater and Tallahatchie Rivers. Up to 50,000 migratory waterfowl winter on the refuge and 34 species of shorebirds have been recorded during spring and fall migration. Peregrine falcon, least tern, black tern, bald and golden eagles, and wood stork have been observed. Due to intensive management, the refuge is critically important as a sanctuary for waterfowl and other neotropical migratory birds. Primarily for these reasons, the refuge is closed to public access

Getting There . . .
From State Highway 335, turn west on Paducah Wells road and continue west to the Corps of Engineers Panola-Quitman Flood Control Levee. Turn right, north, on the levee for 2 ½ miles and the refuge southern boundary will be on the left. The refuge continues north for an additional 2 ½ miles. Public roads exist along the northern and western refuge boundary. An alternative route to the northern refuge boundary is to drive 4 ½ miles south on a public gravel road from the town of Crowder. Note that it is not unusual for portions of the Paducah Wells road, the road along the north and western boundary and the road south from Crowder to be closed due to flooding.

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Wildlife and Habitat

A 495 acre portion of the refuge contains 25 ponds that were previously managed as a commercial catfish operation. Ranging in size from 9 to 21 acres, they are managed for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds. Eighteen of these ponds can be flooded with 1 foot of water in 2 or 3 days with the use of 5 electric wells. Fifteen of the 34 species of shorebirds that have been recorded at the refuge are commonly seen from March - October.

The Refuge was highlighted in a national birding magazine as one of the top areas in the south for shorebirds. Least flycatchers also nested here during the summers of 1996 and 1997, the only documented nesting area in Mississippi. Approximately 1,400 acres of prior agricultural fields have been reforested with native bottomland hardwoods seedlings or by direct seeding. The survival rates of these plantings vary due to flooding during the early growing season and large acreages have reverted to willow flats and wet fallow fields. These areas provide feeding and resting habitat to thousands of wintering waterfowl annually.

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Management Activities
A management plan calls for (on alternate years) nine of the old catfish ponds to be actively managed through flooding/dewatering using wells and water control structures to maximize shorebird habitat and use. Nine additional ponds will be managed using primarily evaporation and mechanical measures to keep succession of native wetland plants at the desired stage. The pond management activities will then be switched among the 18 ponds for the next year. The remaining ponds are passively managed. Approximately 250 acres on the west boundary of the refuge which are higher in elevation are maintained as old field habitat to benefit grassland species of neotropical migrants.