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Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge


The Muskatatuk National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for unique wildlife and waterfowl, and preserves rare plants. The shallow water wetlands in the Refuge's Moss Lake area provide seasonal sanctuary for up to 30,000 greater sandhill cranes that recently started wintering in the area. Permanent wetland habitat to support those cranes does not exist anywhere else in the area. The Refuge's Acid Seep Spring Research Natural Area protects one of only seven acid seeps documented in the state, one of which has been destroyed. Wetlands cover approximately 70% of the refuge while approximately 80% of the wetlands that historically existed in Indiana has been destroyed.  Wetland habitat in Indiana is extremely valuable for wetland wildlife and plants, many of which are declining in numbers. Muskatatuck NWR is an "island" of wetlands surrounded by farmland.

The refuge also provides outstanding educational opportunities for adults and students to observe and learn about wetlands.


Exemplary Ecosystem Services

Maintains ecological connectivity/cohesion

Aesthetic/Cultural Heritage Value/Provisioning

Recreation (birdwatching, ecotourism)

Flood storage/mitigation

Water quality improvement


Conservation Status and Threats

  • Conservation status

    Federal Protection National Wildlife Refuge
  • Adjacent land use

    Agricultural (cropland, orchards, greenhouse)
  • Approximate natural buffer width

    > 100 ft
  • Other Information

    Not to include on website - Information and pictures provided by Donna Stanley, Park Ranger, Muscatatuk NWR to J. Nieset


  • Approximate size (ha):

  • General wetland characterization:

    Inland Fresh Seasonally Flooded Basin/Flat, Inland Fresh Meadow, Inland Shallow Fresh Marsh, Inland Open Fresh Water, Inland Fresh Shrub Swamp, Inland Fresh Wooded Swamp
  • Adjacent water bod(iess)

    Lake, Pond, Stream
  • Approximate stream order

  • Name of body of water

    Mutton and Storm Creeks flow into Muscatatuck River at the south end of the refuge
  • Surficial geology

    "Muskatatuk NWR is within the Scottsburg lowland physiographic division of Indiana. Geology includes the combinatino of underlying bedrock strata and the unconsolidated soils material deposited by glacial action (pg16)"

  • Soils

    Hydric soils cover 2,962 acres and non-hydric soils cover the remaining 4,797 acres. Soils are grouped into five associations. More information can be found

Flora and Fauna

  • Dominant flora

    Pin oak, swamp white oak, swamp chetnut oak, river birch, silver maple, red maple
  • Unique flora

    Bog bluegrass, climbing milkweed, Walter's St. john wort, smooth white violet, American lotus.Do not list this on website: southern tubercled orchid, club spur orchid
  • Dominant fauna

    Wood duck, white-tailed deer, spring warblers during migration, largemouth bass, bluegill and other fish species, numerous waterfowl species, numerous dragonfly, mollusk, aquatic invertebrate species
  • Rare fauna

    Federal and state endangered snake species - Do not list specifics on actual website, for internal purposes: Northern copperbellied water snakes and kirtland water snakes; Can list on website: Indiana bat, evening bat, river otter, yellow crowned night heron, american bittern, least bittern, prothonotary warbler, virginia rail, beaverpond baskettail dragonfly


  • MSU4
  • MossLake
  • MuscatatuckRiver

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