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A forest composed of many small trees and a grassy/shrub understory
Information icon A forested section of the proposed Green River National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Partnership Area. Photo by Lee Andrews, USFWS.

National Refuge adds 400-plus acres in Kentucky

The nation’s youngest national wildlife refuge has just grown by more than 400 acres, opening the way for increased recreational opportunities for people who love the outdoors.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) acquired 437 acres of forested wetlands in western Kentucky. It is now part of the Green River National Wildlife Refuge, created in November 2019. The newly acquired land is near John James Audubon State Park.

Before the acquisition, the refuge comprised 10 acres. With this addition, the refuge has grown fortyfold – 447 acres.

Michael Johnson, manager of Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge in Kentucky, is overseeing the new refuge as well. He anticipates it will keep expanding.

“I am excited for the opportunity to keep moving this project forward through the acquisition of additional lands from willing sellers and implementation of active management of these lands for wildlife and people,” said Johnson, who called the refuge’s establishment “one of the proudest moments of my 30-year career.”

“The first land acquisition took place sooner than I expected, a trend I hope continues,” Johnson said.

Visitors of every sort – some with wings, others with two or four legs – will benefit from a growing refuge, said Jeffery Jones, executive director of the Southern Conservation Corp. The nonprofit corporation helps agencies, governments and private citizens to protect and conserve land in the Southeastern United States. It helped broker the Green River land sale with the Service.

“Adding these tracts to the Green River National Wildlife Refuge is the best possible use of this land that I can imagine,” he said. “I’m confident that the refuge will be a treasure that will only get better as it expands. That means good things for birds, fish, and folks.”

Local residents are eager to see the refuge grow, said Henderson, Ky., Mayor Steve Austin. The refuge is close to the city, located on the Ohio River.

“This is a great step forward for ‘our’ refuge,” Austin said. “When I say ‘our,’ I mean this city, this county and the rest of the country. I am delighted that this refuge is so close to Henderson – and even more pleased that it’s growing.”

The Service bought the land with funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal program that supports the protection of federal public lands and waters – including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and recreation areas. The Service plans to expand Green River National Wildlife Refuge to roughly 24,000 acres. It is interested in speaking with any landowners interested in selling property for this refuge, the nation’s 567th.

For refuge-related questions or information, please email Refuge Manager Michael Johnson at or call 270-527-5770 ext. 205. You can also visit the refuge’s website at or on Facebook @Greenrivernwr.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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