Established in 1997, Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge is a bottomland hardwood forest located in western Kentucky near Benton. The refuge lies along the East Fork of the Clarks River and is seasonal home to over 200 different species of migratory birds.
Since Europeans settled in the United States, there has been a substantial decrease in bottomland hardwood forest and it is now considered an endangered ecosystem and rare in Kentucky. Due to this fact, managing for this habitat type has become very important and was the purpose in establishing Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge.
Sometimes this habitat is referred to as an “overflow swamp” because it catches the overflow of flood waters during the wet seasons (winter and spring). This seasonal flooding creates lush and fertile soil from the depositing of sediments.
The acorns from the abundant oak trees are an important source of food for squirrels, deer, and many other animals in Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge. 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 hold tremendous value to humans as well. During the wet seasons it acts like a giant sponge to soak up floodwater, decreasing the devastation of flooding to land downstream. Bottomland hardwood forest also filter and purifies water as it flows through the plants and soil. Thus, making bodies of water cleaner and safer for recreation such as fishing.
Every season will unveil different species of birdlife on the Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge for you to enjoy! There are lots of opportunities to bird watch with over 200 species of songbirds that use the refuge.
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