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Wolf River Wildlife Management Area
Ghost River State Natural Area

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Map Wolf River WMAGhost River SNA

Location:  South of LaGrange, south of Wolf River, below bluff along "30 Road," east and west of Yaeger, to Beasley Road with some holdings further south and west to Yaeger and along river to Bateman Bridge, Fayette County, Tennessee.
Physiographic Province:  PIF 04 (East Gulf Coastal Plain); BCR 27 (Southeastern Coastal Plain)
Tennessee IBA Site Map - Wolf River WMA and Ghost River SNA.bmp (80006 bytes)
Geographical Coordinates: 
    Wolf River Wildlife Management Area--Lat. 3506N  Long. 08922W
Elevation Range:  Approximately 300'
Size:  6,456 acres
USGS 7.5’ quad:  Moscow SE and Grand Junction

Description:  The majority of the Wolf River Wildlife Management Area lies along the unchannelized portion of the Wolf River from the Tennessee/Mississippi state line to the Bateman Bridge. Upland areas are characterized by agricultural fields/pastures, and scattered stands of upland hardwoods. The Wolf River WMA consists of 4,236 acres of which 2,400 acres is in the Wolf River floodplain and 1,667 acres in open agricultural and pastures. The forested acreage is >80% bottomland hardwood/swamp forest.
    The Ghost River State Natural Area is a 2,220-acre, 14-mile section of the Wolf River from the parking area near La Grange to the Bateman Bridge. Here, the Ghost River section of the Wolf is unchannelized and meanders through bottomland hardwood forests, cypress-tupelo swamps, and open marshes. Some of the most impressive trees are oaks that include Cherrybark, Water Willow, and Swamp Chestnut. The low ridges above the river bottoms support Tulip Poplar, beech, and White Oak with Northern Red Oak infrequently occurring. The natural area also includes significant uplands and sandy hills adjacent to the floodplain. "The Ghost River section of the Wolf River received its name from the loss of river current as the water "flows" through open marshes and bald cypress-water tupelo swamps. A canoe trail has been blazed through the disorienting maze of Virginia Willow, cypress, tupelos, and stunted Pumpkin Ash." This trail includes a 600-foot boardwalk in the Minnow Slough area.

IBA Criteria:  2, 3, 5

Ornithological Importance:  The bottomland forests and upland forest provide breeding habitat for many neotropical migrants. The pastures provide nesting and winter habitat for 10 species of sparrows. In the period 1996-1999, 166 species were tallied of which 73 species (44%) were neotropical.
    Note 1. Over the years, 20 orphaned Barn Owl, a Tennessee In Need of Management species, young have been released in the area. There are at least one to two active nesting Barn Owl sites. These birds use nest boxes that have been put up for them and there are at least three broods in each box per year. There is another nest site in LaGrange.
    Note 2. Two roadside point counts and one river point count were conducted 1996-2001. The Ghost River Point Count on the Wolf River ran from the LaGrange bridge downriver for 6 1/2 miles. A total of 69 species were detected. The overall relative abundance in all point counts for neotropical species in the top 20, 1996-2001, are:  Acadian Flycatcher (no. 4), Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (no. 5), Wood Thrush (no. 7), White-eyed Vireo (no. 8), Red-eyed Vireo (no. 9), Yellow-billed Cuckoo (no. 11), Indigo Bunting (no. 12), Prairie Warbler (no. 13), Kentucky Warbler (no. 15), Great Crested Flycatcher (no. 16), Eastern Wood-Pewee (no. 19), and Summer Tanager (no. 20).
    Note 3. A Breeding Bird Survey mini route was conducted 1998-2001.

Site Criteria



Avg. No Season

Max. No. Season

Years of Data



Barn Owl (NOM) (See Note 1 above.)


2 pair





Habitat:   Bottomland hardwood






5Monitoring:  Point Counts (See Note 2 above.)B  1996-2001 
5Monitoring:   Breeding Bird Survey route (See note 3 above.)B  1998-2001 
Season1   B = Breeding, W = Wintering, SM = Spring Migration, FM = Fall Migration 
Source 2  1-Atlas Breeding Birds of Tennessee 2-Breeding Bird Surveys 3-Christmas Bird Counts
4-Point Counts 5-Refuge Counts 6-Personal observations 7-Other (Night Bird Survey)

Ownership:  Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; Department of Environment and Conservation
    Contact:  Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, 200 Lowell Thomas, Jackson, TN 38301, 800-372-3928 (toll free in Tennessee); Division of Natural Heritage, 401 Church Street, 14th Floor L&C Tower, Nashville, TN 37243, 615-532-0431.

Conservation Concerns:  Critical concerns are commercial development, residential development, introduced plants/animals, and soil erosion. Major concerns are drainage and pesticides. Potential concerns are recreational development/overuse, and deforestation. The introduced plants threaten to change the forest composition, e. g. kudzu. The soil erosion can degrade upland grass/edge habitats as well as kill trees. Residential use of the surrounding area increases as the population increases in Fayette County. Pesticides used in the past could still be in the soil. Adjacent landowner water drainage projects could affect the stability of the area.

Management Program:  Currently there is a program to restore natural hydrology and reduce the sedimentation problems. There is a recognized need to increase the protected acreage that buffers the wildlife management area and Wolf River through agreements with landlords.

Submitted by:  Martha Waldron, 1014 Murray Hill Lane, Memphis, TN 38120, 901-747-3004, Martha.Waldron@stlouis.cdom.org

Additional Contributors: 

Approved as an IBA site: January 2006--Yes 7  No 0

This page was last updated on 02/19/06.