Officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) recently announced the establishment of the Green River National Wildlife Refuge.
The refuge was established with the acquisition of a small parcel of land donated by the Southern Conservation Corp. The 10 acre tract is the first of what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to be a 24,000-acre refuge.
The new refuge is located near the confluence of the Ohio and Green rivers in Henderson, Kentucky, about 130 miles west of Louisville. Along with Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge, it is one of only two refuges located fully in Kentucky.
At an informational meeting earlier this year, the public turned out in support of the proposed Green River National Wildlife Refuge. Local landowners, conservation groups, and state and federal agencies have advocated for its creation.
The refuge includes wetlands and bottomland forest of the watershed. Bottomland habitat is sometimes referred to as an “overflow swamp” because it catches the overflow of flood waters during the wet seasons.
Common bottomland forest trees include oaks, gums, hickorys, and maples, all species with the ability to survive in seasonal floods.
These forests provide important habitat to a variety of wildlife including neotropical migratory songbirds and many species of waterfowl.
The acorns from oak trees are an important source of food for squirrels, deer, and other animals. Locations of standing water such as backwater sloughs and small vernal pools are important breeding grounds for animals such as frogs and crayfish.
Bottomland hardwood forests also soak up floodwater, decreasing the effects of flooding to land downstream.
The refuge will also be an outdoor classroom, where youngsters have a chance to wander the forests, marvel at creatures that fly, swim and crawl, and feel a part of the natural world.
“Providing the 10-acre land donation is a unique opportunity for us,” noted Southern Conservation Corp. Executive Director Jeff Jones. “We have helped a variety of partners in Kentucky secure important conservation lands for fish and wildlife, environmental education, and public use, but establishing a new national wildlife refuge doesn’t happen every day. This donation is special to us for that reason. Hopefully, the refuge will build quickly and provide important conservation and public use benefits.”
Over the past 15 years, Southern Conservation Corp. has partnered with the Service on numerous land protection and species conservation efforts in Kentucky.
Green River National Wildlife Refuge is part of a 53,000-acre expanse called a Conservation Partnership Area. Within that boundary, the Service will acquire land for the refuge by buying easements and fee-title ownership from willing sellers.
Green River will be the 568th refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is a network of national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts. More than 55 million people visit national wildlife refuges every year, creating lasting economic benefits for local communities.
source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service