Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge

Located one hour north of Memphis (Ripley) in west central Tennessee, Chickasaw NWR provides a stepping stone for waterfowl migrating and wintering along the Mississippi River.

Once owned and managed for timber by the Anderson Tully Company, Inc., and then by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency as a Wildlife Management Area, the refuge now protects some of the last remaining bottomland hardwood forest in the Lower Mississippi Valley.

Exceeding 22,000 acres, the refuge supports a variety of palustrine, lacustrine, and riverine habitats, forest, cropland, osage orange-locust savannah, and upland loess bluffs each sustaining, through management, a wide variety of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife and plants.

The refuge is subject annually to some degree of backwater flooding by the Mississippi River commonly covering 95% of the refuge to depths of 20 feet. Important wildlife species include ducks and geese, white-tailed deer, turkey, small game, bald eagles, Mississippi kites, interior least terns, and assorted non-game species.

Visitor Opportunities
Recreational opportunities in this area include: visitor contact station, educational programs, wildlife observation, hiking trails, auto tour route, motorized watercraft, non-motorized boating, hunting, fishing.

Accessibility: The National Wildlife Refuge System is working to ensure that facilities and programs are accessible to visitors. Please contact the refuge office for information about accessibility at this unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The refuge offers a wide variety of compatible, wildlife oriented recreational opportunities for the visiting public such as boating and canoeing, hiking, biking, photography, and wildlife observation. A general brochure and bird list are available upon request. Hunting (free permit required) is allowed on the refuge during certain times of the year for deer, turkey, ducks, and small game. Junior hunting seasons are also offered. Fishing is allowed year-round. The refuge also provides interpretive and educational services on- and off-site. Facilities include a Visitor Contact Station, several miles of graveled access roads, boat ramp access to the Mississippi River, handicapped accessible fishing, and abandoned logging roads for hiking.

Management Programs
Management practices at Chickasaw NWR revolve around the provision of wintering habitat for waterfowl. A major program on the refuge consists of the protection, enhancement, and restoration of bottomland hardwood forest. The objective of forest management is to increase the proportion of red oaks through strategies of selective cutting, timber stand improvement, and seedling/acorn planting. Another major program is intensive farming for waterfowl and the rehabilitation and enhancement of the moist-soil impoundment system. Nearly 900 acres of bottomland provide the nucleus for waterfowl and waterbird sanctuary in, and around, the refuge. Approximately 1,500 acres of agricultural land support row crops grown for waterfowl food while controlling such pest species as sesbania, willow, and cocklebur, which reduce the attractiveness to ducks and geese and reduce natural food yields. Water management has historically been totally dependent upon the whims of Mother Nature. However, with the installation of a well, management will focus on the timing of flooding, and the addition of sub impoundments within the system will allow more discretion as to where that water will go. Waterfowl, eagles, and shorebirds are surveyed during critical periods to ascertain use of the refuge. In conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, the refuge has supported several years of research relative to the cerulean warbler. Current problems are Knob Creek and the Forked Deer River, both of which originate outside of, but terminate within, the refuge. Both have been seriously altered prior to establishment of the refuge and impact the refuge as well as adjacent landowners. Restoration of the hydrologic regime of these bodies of water will be an important issue in the near future.

From Ripley and Highway 51, proceed approximately 8 miles north on Edith-Central Road (becomes Edith-Nankipoo after passing through Edith) to bottom of bluff, turn sharp left on Sand Bluff Road (gravel) and proceed 1.5 miles to refuge office.

Refuge Manager
1505 Sand Bluff Rd.
Ripley, TN 38063
Phone (901) 635-7621
Fax (901) 635-0178

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 13 Sep 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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