Natural Areas Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge

Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge Fact Sheet: (courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

* Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge was established by the Department of the Interior s Fish and Wildlife Service on August 5, 1947.

* Crab Orchard NWR is 44,000 acres of land and water containing a wide diversity of flora and fauna.

* Major habitat types include hardwood forest, agricultural land, grazing units, brushland, wetlands, and lakes.

* Wintering numbers of Canada geese can peak at 200,000.

* There is approximately 700 plant species, 245 bird species, 33 mammal species, 63 fish species, and 44 reptile and amphibian species that can be found on the Refuge.

* The western 24,000 acres of the Refuge provide a wide range of recreational opportunities and also feature a 4,050 acre wilderness area.

* The eastern 20,000 acres of the Refuge is a wildlife sanctuary and public use is limited.

* Annual visitation is approximately 1,000,000 visitors.

* Industrial activities on the Refuge range from manufacturing and storage facilities to administrative offices. Many buildings now housing industries were used in the manufacturing of explosives during World War II, and they are still used for military ordnance production today.

* There are approximately 175 bunkers (concrete igloos) found on the Refuge. These were originally built for munition storage and are now leased to private industry for storage of many types of products. Two of these bunkers have been utilized as bat bunkers for hibernation of local bat populations.

* Approximately 4,000 acres of cropland are managed with the help of local farmers. The farmers sharecrop the Refuge land, harvesting a percentage of the crops and leaving the rest in the field for wildlife.

* Hay cutting and cattle grazing are also permitted on approximately 2,000 acres of Refuge land. Cattle graze the pastures all summer and are removed in October to give the arriving geese undisturbed use of the area.

* Moist soil wetlands are maintained to create shallow feeding areas for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. During normal years, water levels in moist soil units are lowered during the summer to encourage the establishment of moist soil vegetation. Water levels are then raised during the fall to make the seeds produced by moist soil plants available to waterfowl.

* Upland habitat is maintained using fire and timber management. Controlled burning is very carefully used to remove vegetation that often is too dense and to assist with the removal of invasive plant species.

* Crab Orchard NWR includes three man-made lakes: Crab Orchard, Little Grassy, and Devils Kitchen.

* Crab Orchard Lake was created in 1938 and is approximately 7,000 acres, with an average depth of 9 feet.

* Little Grassy Lake was created in 1951 and is approximately 1,000 acres, with an average depth of 35 feet.

* Devils Kitchen Lake was created in 1959 and is approximately 810 acres, with an average depth of 40 feet.

* The closed area of the Refuge includes approximately 80 small ponds which are used as wading areas for ducks and geese.

* The Refuge includes 33 cemeteries, 21 of which are in the closed area of the Refuge. Many of these cemeteries date back to the 1800 s.

* There are approximately 275 bluebird houses on the Refuge.

* 56% of the Refuge is covered by forests. One refuge goal has been to manage for productive oak-hickory forest dominated by native species. Examples of wildlife that use Refuge forests are deer, squirrels, raccoons, hawks, owls, and a variety of migratory and resident forest birds.

* Approximately 20 percent of the Refuge is covered by open water, almost all of it in man-made reservoirs. Open water serves as habitat for warm-water sport fish, waterfowl and other water birds.

* Cropland covers about 10 percent of the Refuge. Examples of wildlife that use cropland are deer, Canada goose, northern bobwhite, and turkey.

* Wetlands cover about 6 percent of the Refuge. The majority of these wetlands are bottomland hardwood forests and moist soil units. Examples of wildlife that use grassland are deer, rabbit, northern bobwhite, grasshopper sparrow, loggerhead shrike, Bell s vireo, and field sparrow.

* About 2 percent of the Refuge is covered by shrubland. Most Refuge shrubland is the result of abandoning farm and industrial areas. Examples of wildlife that use shrubland are deer, rabbit, loggerhead shrike, Bell s vireo, and field sparrow.

* About 2 percent of the Refuge is covered by developed land. These include: roads and adjacent rights-of-way and industrial, administrative, and recreational facilities.

Established in 1947, the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge contains 44,000 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and grasslands providing habitat for wildlife and recreational opportunities for people. For management purposes, the lands within the refuge have been divided into and Open Area and a Restricted Area. The Open Area contains 23,000 acres of land and water open for recreational uses. The remaining 21,000 acres of the Restricted Area have limited recreational opportunities as they have been set aside for wildlife.

Recreational opportunities within the Refuge are abundant. Visitors partake in boating, camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, picnicking, photography, and swimming (at designated beaches) within the boundaries of the Refuge.

Fishing is the most popular recreational activity within Crab Orchard.

Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge
8588 Route 148
Marion, IL
618.997.3344

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