Springville, Tenn.–The seasonally closed roads and bays at the Tennessee and Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge will reopen as of Wednesday, March 14th. These areas have been closed during winter to lessen disturbance to wintering waterfowl on both these refuges.
This is the time when the crappie start biting and it is a great time to go fishing on the refuge. Fishermen are encouraged to obtain a fishing regulations brochure available online at www.fws.gov/refuge/Tennessee or www.fws.gov/refuge/Cross_Creeks. Brochures are also available at the Refuge headquarters at 1371 Wildlife Drive in Springville; or at Cross Creeks Refuge office at 643 Wildlife Road in Dover, at information kiosks located at both refuge offices; at the V.L. Childs Observation Deck; at the main entrance to the Duck River Bottoms area; and at the main entrance to the Busseltown Unit; or in area bait and tackle stores. This brochure has information not only about the use of the refuge, but maps of both refuges that point out the locations of boat ramps and water control structures.
However, flooding conditions along the Tennessee, Cumberland and Duck River may affect some of these areas opening on schedule. After floods recede, refuge staff will check these roads to see if they are safe for public travel. Any damaged roads will remain closed until they can safely be reopened. All specially closed areas and roads due to flood caused damage will be posted on the individual refuge website.
For those that enjoy birding and observing wildlife, there are many opportunities available at both refuges. At Cross Creeks NWR wildlife can be viewed at the refuge office and visitor center, just out the back door on their observation deck, or along the refuge roads. To find this area with your GPS use the address 643 Wildlife Road in Dover.
At Tennessee NWR just south of New Johnsonville, the Blue Goose Boulevard Wildlife Drive just off Refuge Lane in the Duck River Bottoms will be a phenomenal show just after opening. This 2 mile wildlife observation drive features a green tree reservoir, flooded fields and mud flats that attract a wide number of birds. Near the wildlife drive, an observation deck called Pintail Point Observation Deck is accessible just off of Haul Road providing a photography blind opportunity. To find this area with your GPS, use the address 550 Refuge Lane in New Johnsonville.
Another good location to view wildlife is at the back patio of the new visitor center which offers excellent views of wildlife overlooking a gorgeous bay of Kentucky Lake. With mounted spotting scopes and staff or volunteer guides nearby, many people find this a great place to start on the refuge. The visitor center is open 8-4 Monday – Saturday and features a state of the art wildlife exhibits. Entrance to the visitor center is free. The visitor center is located at 1371 Wildlife Drive in Springville. The V.L. Childs Observation Deck is located just one mile from the visitor center and is a favorite place to view wildlife anytime of the year. Many people start at the visitor center, visit the V.L. Childs Observation Deck and continue to view wildlife as they drive through the refuge towards Swayne Point. Also located near the visitor center is the 2.5 mile Britton Ford hiking trail which leads visitors through a forested area of the refuge.
On the Big Sandy Peninsula, just north of the town of Big Sandy, the Bennett’s Creek Observation Deck is fully accessible. This 120 foot boardwalk leading to a raised observation deck overlooks a bay of Kentucky Lake and two refuge impoundments. Sitting on this deck listening to the ducks chatter offers a peaceful moment that’s hard to beat. Near the deck is the 1.1 mile Chickasaw National Recreation Trail, a great trail to view a diversity of habitats, see the ruins of an old grist mill and walk through the remains of a homestead site of long ago.
Even though a good number of the waterfowl have left us, there are still plenty coming through to experience. And as they return north, soon the summer migratory birds will come. These birds include the shorebirds and neotropical migratory songbirds such as the indigo bunting, prothonotary warbler, white-eyed vireos, orchard orioles, yellow-billed cuckoos and wood thrushes. Oh what a wonderful time to come visit the refuge!
The refuge manager invites the public to take pleasure in the refuge, but remember to obey all regulations and help make it a safe and litter-free place for all to enjoy. For more information about where to visit or refuge programs, call 731-642-2091.