The Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge is located in southernmost Illinois within the Cache River Watershed. The refuge was established in 1990 under the Emergency Wetlands Resource Act of 1986 to protect, restore and manage wetlands and bottomland forests that provide habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds, resident wildlife, and endangered and threatened species.
The refuge protects 15,000 acres, with the vision of approximately 36,000-acre contiguous tract of land connected by remnants of cypress-tupelo swamps, oak barrens and vast stands of bottomland forests. The refuge and surrounding Cache River Wetlands are considered Illinois' Bayou - a large swamp/wetland complex in the Midwest harboring a rich collection of biologically significant natural communities.
The Cache River and Cypress Creek Wetland was designated a "Wetland of International Importance" especially for waterfowl and for its rich diversity of plant and animal communities; it claims some of the oldest living trees east of the Mississippi River and harbors 91% of Illinois' high-quality swamp habitat.
The refuge lies at a biological midpoint of North America - one of only six areas in the U.S. where four or more physiographic regions overlap. As a result, the refuge is bounded on the west by the Ozark Hills, on the north by the Central Plateau, on the east by east by the Interior Low Plateau, and on the south by the Gulf Coastal Plain. This mixture of bedrock, soils, and climate provides a diversity of habitats seldom matched in the Midwest.
The refuge is a member of a unique partnership to restore and manage the Cache River Wetlands. Together, the refuge, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), The Nature Conservancy, and Ducks Unlimited share a goal to protect and restore over 60,000 acres and influence land use changes throughout the Cache River Watershed.
Due to its strategic location in the Mississippi Flyway, Cypress Creek serves as a major staging area for myriad migratory waterfowl species including Snow Geese, Mallard and Blue-winged Teal.
Wintering habitat is provided annually for nearly 20,000 Canada Geese, 35,000 Snow Geese and 26,000 duck of various species, including 2,000 Wood Ducks, which also breed here.
More than 200 species of birds use the refuge including breeding and wintering Bald Eagle; migratory shorebirds (most if not all the species seen in Illinois); migratory wetland species such as Virginia Rail, Sora, Least Bittern and American Bittern; and breeding King Rail. Landbirds that breed on the refuge include Barn Owl, Orchard Oriole, Brown Creeper, Loggerhead Shrike, Prairie Warbler, Bell?s Vireo, Prothonotary Warbler, Blue Grosbeak, Acadian Flycatcher, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Dickcissel, Henslow?s Sparrow and Sedge Wren. The refuge also serves as an important feeding area for Snowy Egret and Little Blue Heron.
This site was chosen as an IBA because it met the criteria for breeding Barn Owls, Henslow's Sparrows, Orchard Orioles, Prothonotary Warblers and Waterfowl.
Land clearing, drainage, and channelization are all primary threats.