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Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge
IUCN Category IV (Habitat/Species Management Area)
Crab Orchard Lake.jpg
Crab Orchard Lake, Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, September 2019
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Location Williamson, Jackson, and Union counties, Illinois, USA
Nearest city Marion, Illinois
Area 43,890 acres (177.62 km2)
Established 1947
Governing body U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Website Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is a 43,890 acre (180 km²) National Wildlife Refuge primarily in southwestern Williamson County, but with small extensions into adjacent eastern Jackson and northeastern Union counties of southern Illinois, in the United States. Its land and water contain a wide diversity of flora and fauna. It centers on Crab Orchard Lake. Major habitat types on the refuge include hardwood forest, agricultural land, grazing units, brushland, wetlands, and lakes. Other major bodies of water on the refuge are Devil's Kitchen Lake and Little Grassy Lake.


The refuge provides significant resting areas for migratory birds utilizing the Mississippi Flyway. Wintering numbers of Canada geese can peak at 200,000. A total of nearly 1000 vascular plant species, 245 bird species, 33 mammal species, 63 fish species, and 44 reptile and amphibian species have been documented on the refuge.

The western 24,000 acres (97 km²) of the refuge provide a wide range of recreational opportunities and also include a 4,050 acre (16 km²) wilderness area. The eastern portion, 20,000 acres (81 km²), is a wildlife sanctuary, and public use is limited.

Annual visitation is approximately 1,000,000 visitors. Industrial activities on the refuge range from manufacturing and storage facilities to administrative offices. Many buildings now housing industries were used in the manufacturing of high explosives during World War II, and they are still used for military ordnance production today. The concrete igloos built for munition storage are now leased to private industry for storage of many types of products.

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is managed with four broad objectives: wildlife management, agriculture, recreation, and industry. The primary wildlife management objective is to satisfy the food and resting needs of wintering Canada geese and other wildlife. This objective is coordinated with the agriculture objective through cooperative farming and permittee grazing programs.

Crab Orchard Wilderness

The Crab Orchard Wilderness, a federally listed 4,050-acre (16.4 km2) U.S. wilderness area, occupies the southernmost strip of the National Wildlife Refuge.


Flora of Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge
Plant Group Families Genera Species
Pteridophytes (Ferns & Allies) 15 20 27
Gymnosperms 3 4 9
Monocots 26 111 300
Dicots 96 353 645
Totals 140 488 981
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