About the Refuge

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.

Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge has the largest tract of bottomland hardwood forest in Tennessee, and lies in the Lower Mississippi River floodplain with eight miles of the refuge’s western boundary adjoining the Mississippi River. The refuge extends east two to six miles to the edge of the heavily dissected Chickasaw Bluff. The dominant land forms of the Lower Mississippi River Ecosystem are the alluvial plain of the Mississippi River downstream of its confluence with the Ohio River, and the deltaic plain and associated marshes and swamps created by the meanderings of the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

Due to the lack of a mainline Mississippi River levee in Lauderdale County, the entire refuge is subject to inundation from high river stages, typically in late winter and early spring. During high river stages, water depths can reach 30 feet in the lower-lying portions of the refuge.

Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge is located in rural western Tennessee, approximately 15 miles southwest of the city of Dyersburg. The refuge gets its name from the Chickasaw Indians, who historically occupied portions of west Tennessee, including Lauderdale County in which the refuge is located. Prior to federal acquisition, most of the lands that make up the Chickasaw Refuge were owned by the Anderson-Tully Timber Company of Memphis, Tennessee. In 1956, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency leased the tract and managed it as a wildlife management area. The refuge was approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission on May 14, 1985, to protect approximately 37,500 acres of bottomland hardwoods and adjacent habitats for migratory waterfowl. This approval included two acquisition areas: a 23,600-acre upper area that is now Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge and a 13,900-acre lower area that today is owned and managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge provides a variety of habitat types for a diversity of wildlife species. The habitats on the refuge consist of approximately 94 acres of open administrative land; 1,186 acres of agriculture and moist soil open lands (the agricultural/moist soil breakdown varies from year to year); 1,874 acres of bald cypress/tupelo forest; 18,419 acres of mixed bottomland hardwood forest; 966 acres of open water; 1,018 acres of sandbars; 515 acres of osage orange savanna; 431 acres of scrub-shrub; and 503 acres of upland forest. The total current deeded acreage being managed as Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge is over 26,000 acres.