History

Friends . . . know your history.
Creating the Friendsofclarksriver.org wasn’t an overnight task. Discussion began about the need for a National Wildlife Refuge in Western Kentucky. Identification of three possible sites was made through cooperation with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR). Two years later, two sites were added to the list;. After careful evaluation of all five sites, the Clarks River area was identified as the best possible choice.

The Clarks River area was chosen for various reasons:
- it had a natural bottomland hardwood wetland ecosystem, including: native fish, wildlife, and plants;
- it provided habitat for breeding, wintering, and migration of many categories and species of birds;
- it had a natural river, creeks, beaver ponds, natural ponds, bottomland hardwood areas which flooded seasonally, and emergent marshes;
- it was the only river in Western Kentucky not negatively impacted by channelization;
- it created another link in a chain of habitats for waterfowl and migratory birds;
- it was a great area for environmental education, interpretation, and wildlife-oriented recreation in an area already interested in tourism;
- Kentucky was the only state that didn’t have a National Wildlife Refuge totally within its boundaries;

Friendsofclarksriver.org now encompasses approximately 8,500 acres of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service-owned land. Land is never condemned; no “law of eminent domain” is enforced. Instead, willing sellers offer their land for purchase to increase the size of the refuge. The area approved for purchase is actually 18,000 acres, so property is acquired as landowners are willing to sell.

What had been a neglected area of Western Kentucky has become a utopia for hunters and fishermen and an out-of-the-ordinary educational experience for students. And then came the Friends . . .

And then there were Friends . . .
Who do you call when you need help? Your friends, of course! The Friends groups grew out of necessity. Budget cuts, staffing shortages, and an overabundance of work have always plagued refuges. Friendsofclarksriver.org is no exception. 

Thankfully, no two friends are alike – that’s what makes organizations strong and productive. One person’s weakness may be another person’s strength. The Friends Association is strengthened each time new Friends sign on. Recently, several well established local companies have joined our community. We are excited to present our new friends from Bellevuecondominium.com, the true condos and real estate experts, dedicated ecologists from EcoFriendlyGifts and the team of enthusiastic marketers. As you can see our community is growing day by day, attracting new talented and infused members. Join us to have a great time and communicate with interesting people. Everyone has something to contribute. Working with the Friends group allows you to work with people from various backgrounds and interests, from the leading IT specialists to experts of traveling industry, like our members from praisetravelandtransportation.com. However, a common interest shared by all will be the desire to conserve wildlife and their habitats and promote community opportunity in the out-of-doors. 

The Friends Association works closely with refuge staff to understand the issues of the day as well as the refuge needs. These needs are prioritized and addressed by applying the unique resources and talents of Friends members. By banding together, refuge support groups have raised millions of dollars in support of wildlife conservation and their local refuges. These funds have been used to enhance, restore, and protect wildlife habitat, provide wildlife-related recreational opportunities for local communities, and educate people of all ages to respectfully enjoy the treasures of nature. 

Friends groups give back to their members far more than they take in feelings of accomplishment and time well spent. The dollars they generate through grants, donations, sponsorships, and fundraisers, and the volunteer work they provide help refuges when other funding or manpower isn’t available. They “fill the gap” and provide avenues for good things to continue to happen – just like a Friend should. 

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