HOLLA BEND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Holla Bend NWR, established in 1957, is located 8 miles down river from Dardanelle, Arkansas. The refuge is situated on a bend of the Arkansas River which was cut off when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers straightened the river in 1954 for flood control. Refuge lands include over 7,000 acres of agricultural fields, bottomland forest, and open water.
The refuge's primary purpose is to provide a winter home for a portion of the millions of ducks and geese that use the Mississippi Flyway each year. During these spring and fall migrations as many as fourteen species of ducks and four kinds of geese will stop by the refuge for a short visit. During the winter, it is not uncommon for the refuge to host up to 100,000 ducks and geese at once. Bald eagles are also common in the winter from December through February.
Spring brings thousands of neotropical migratory songbirds that use the refuge as a rest area on their journey from Central and South America. Many species of vireos, warblers, buntings, and orioles inhabit the woodlands, during this time. Most only stay for a short time to rest, but others use the refuge as a nesting area. Herons, egrets, and other wading birds feed in shallow pools and alligators can be seen in the refuge lakes and ponds.
The primary goals of the habitat management programs at Holla Bend NWR is to provide feeding and resting areas for migratory waterfowl. Cropland management and the use of cooperative farmers is the main tool for accomplishing this goal. These farmers plant milo, soybeans, corn, and winter wheat. The soybeans and milo are harvested by the farmers while the corn and wheat are left as food for the wintering waterfowl. Other refuge residents also benefit from this practice, such as deer, turkey, and quail.
Scattered among these farm fields are several small impoundments. These areas are not wet all year and when they dry up in the summer, plants such as millet and smartweed will grow there. These plants and especially their seeds are very important to waterfowl because they are a high source of energy. In the winter these areas fill with water again and are very popular as a food source for the ducks that spend the winter here. The refuge plants bottomland tree species in areas along the old river channel and allows refuge farmers to hay fallow farm fields to maintain some tall and short grass areas.
The old Arkansas River channel borders three sides of the refuge and in the winter serves as an excellent night roosting site for all the migratory waterfowl using the refuge. Together the farm fields, water impoundments and old river channel provide a wonderful home for winter waterfowl and other refuge wildlife.
Refuge lies along the Arkansas River and is bounded by an old oxbow that was created when the Army Corps of Engineers cut a channel through the bend in the river to promote navigation and flood control.
The refuge protects 7,000 acres of bottomland hardwoods and wetlands and provides habitat for wintering waterfowl, bald and golden eagles and migratory song birds.