The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will establish the Paint Rock River National Wildlife Refuge in September 2023 with the donation of 87.37 acres in Franklin County, Tennessee. The Paint Rock River National Wildlife Refuge was authorized for establishment in 2016, with up to 25,120 acres of land that could be obtained through fee title acquisitions or easements. The Service's approach for this project is to delineate a "conservation partnership area" within which it will work with interested landowners and other conservation partners to help protect the aquatic resources and hardwood forests of the upper watershed.

The refuge lies in the Paint Rock River watershed of the Cumberland Plateau, a largely rural area that has a long history of agriculture, forestry, hunting and fishing. The Paint Rock River watershed drains into the Tennessee River. Important habitat types in the conservation partnership area include upland hardwoods, in-stream habitats and cave and karst systems.

Location and Contact Information

      About Us

      The vision for Paint Rock River National Wildlife Refuge is:

      The refuge will protect important wildlife and habitats of the Paint Rock River watershed, a unique ecosystem that supports a high diversity of aquatic, terrestrial and karst habitats. Together with partners, the Service will help protect and improve the water quality, water quantity and hydrology of the Paint Rock River, benefitting numerous imperiled freshwater species and human communities utilizing the area's water resources. The refuge will conserve, protect and manage one of the largest contiguous tracts of hardwoods remaining in eastern North America for current and future generations. As part of a system of public and private conservation lands, the refuge will expand outdoor recreational opportunities, helping maintain a way of life and supporting local economies.

      What We Do

      With the establishment of this refuge, the Service will be able to fully participate with other conservation partners in the management and protection of the wildlife and habitats within the upper Paint Rock River watershed. Upland hardwood forests will be more protected from fragmentation, and connectivity between existing conservation lands would be enhanced. The water resources of the Pain Rock River watershed will be maintained or improved. Opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreational activities will be increased. Further, any cultural resources found within the refuge will be afforded protection by the Service. 

      It is envisioned that the refuge will:

      • Protect and restore habitat for at least 15 federally listed species and three candidate species;
      • Protect and maintain habitat for a diversity of fish, wildlife and plant species, including more than 40 state listed species; 
      • Protect some of the last remaining large tracts of eastern deciduous forests; 
      • Provide habitat for migratory birds; including neotropical migratory birds and other species of conservation concern; and
      • Provide opportunities for a variety of wildlife-dependent recreation, including hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation.