Canada geese and hooded mergansers, Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey. Credit: Henry T. McLin/Flickr

Hooded merganser, bald eagle, Mississippi kite, Acadian flycatcher, rusty blackbird. These are just a few of the species of conservation concern that can be found at Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge. Combine them with ducks, geese, great blue herons, great egrets and others, and you have hundreds of thousands winged creatures calling this 5,600-acre Arkansas refuge home. And they’re lucky to have it because it’s a wetland oasis among miles and miles of agricultural land.

Located 20 miles northwest of Memphis, Wapanocca became a refuge for migrating and wintering waterfowl in 1961 and has been designated a Continentally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy.

Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge, Arkansas. Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region/Flickr

Its location is key, as it’s in the heart of the Mississippi flyway — or migration pathway — making it a prime stopping point for birds making their way north and south. If you want to spot thousands upon thousands of migrating Canadian geese, this is the place!

But, it’s not only for the birds. Crappie and largemouth bass populate Wapanocca Lake and the canals, along with sunning turtles. Then, there are the broad-banded watersnakes and cottonmouths, river otters, mink and beaver.

Lest we forget the flora, Wapanocca boasts the largest Arkansas colony of rare water spider orchids. Grassland, baldcypress/willow swamp, agricultural land and bottomland hardwood forest comprise a majority of the refuge, and that’s where American Forests can help.

As part of our Global ReLeaf efforts, we are working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to reforest 50 acres of former marginal cropland in Wapanocca. Through our efforts, we will be reestablishing this wetland environment, which will stabilize the soil, decrease erosion and improve water quality in the short term. In the long run, this project will help connect larger forest blocks, creating more wildlife habitat for the refuge’s forest dwellers. More than 20,000 trees will be planted in January-February 2012.

Looking for the perfect gift for that hard-to-shop-for friend or family member? Consider making a gift of trees in his or her name through our Global ReLeaf program. Your gift will enable American Forests to plant trees in endangered areas like Wapanocca, helping provide habitat for wildlife and reestablish critical wetlands for flora and fauna.