The Pearl River Waterfowl Refuge and Wildlife Management Area is located at the upper end of the Ross Barnett Reservoir. The area includes about 13 miles of frontage along the Pearl River and several natural oxbow lakes. Moist-soil management is carried out on approximately 150 acres of impoundments of the 1,500-acre waterfowl refuge and provides wintering habitat for resident and migratory waterfowl. Throughout this area, a system of levees and control structures regulate water levels during much of the year. Approximately 900 acres of bottomland hardwoods are flooded in October and drained in March of each year for waterfowl management. This allows a variety of shorebirds and waterbirds to take advantage of flooded areas and mudflats during spring and fall migrations. There is an observation blind for viewing wintering waterfowl, raptors, and numerous species of passerine landbirds and wading birds. The great majority of this site qualifies as a regulated wetland as defined in The Clean Water Act.

The portion of this IBA along the Pearl River is typical riverine habitat. Numerous oxbow lakes are found throughout the area along the river. Typical vegetation here consists of Cypress, Tupelo, Buttonbush, Cattail, Alligator Weed, and Smartweed in the perennially wet areas.

Just inland, stands of Water Oak, White Oak, Hickory, Magnolia, Sweetgum, Green Ash, American Elm, Loblolly Pine, Southern Red Oak, Black Cherry, Laurel Oak, and Black Bum emerge with only a small change of elevation. Understory species include, but are not limited to, Devil?s Walking Stick, Winged Sumac, French Mulberry, Blackberry, Winged Elm, Trumpet Creeper, Boneset, Smooth Sumac, Flowering Dogwood, Persimmon, Goldenrod, Day Flower, and Jack-in-the-Pulpit, along with various mosses, liverworts, and fungi.

Ornithological Summary

The habitat in this IBA is conducive to supporting numbers of permanent resident birds such as a variety of herons, egrets, Bald Eagle, Wood Duck, in addition to a variety of neotropical migrant species such as various waterfowl, shorebirds, and warblers during spring and fall migrations. The marsh habitat along the Pearl River supports nesting habitat for Least Bittern, Purple Gallinule, and Common Moorhen. A heronry has been in existence for many years on Hurricane Lake, a Tupelo Gum-Cypress swamp. This heronry supports approximately 200 nesting pairs of Anhingas, Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets. Green Herons also nest in the area. Other bird species found here include various hawks, owls, woodpeckers, vireos, tanagers, flycatchers, thrushes, warblers, and sparrows.

Conservation Issues

The area is owned by the Pearl River Water Supply District and is leased to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Park for management and hunting of its wildlife. The Water Supply District routinely harvests the timber on the area. Potentially, the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks could lose the lease on the property even though they have enhanced the property with buildings, trails, observation towers, board walks and aquaculture ponds for game fisheries.

Approximately thirty percent of the land cover type on this IBA is bottomland hardwoods which are a high priority habitat for breeding songbirds in Mississippi, the East Gulf Coastal Plain physiographic province, and the Southeastern United States. Thus, continued efforts to conserve bottomland hardwood forest are extremely important for songbirds.

Ownership

The area is owned by the Pearl River Water Supply District and is leased to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Park for management and hunting of its wildlife. The Water Supply District routinely harvests the timber on the area. Potentially, the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks could lose the lease on the property even though they have enhanced the property with buildings, trails, observation towers, board walks and aquaculture ponds for game fisheries.

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