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Learn more about the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area

Listen to the audio tour

Welcome to the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area made up of 618 acres of land managed for wildlife habitats. You are also standing at the head of the Tennessee river – where the Holston River and French Broad River come together and form the mighty Tennessee River.

 

What exactly is a WMA? Wildlife Management Areas are managed lands set aside for a few reasons. They’re all about conserving wildlife habitats for the future. There are over 100 WMAs and refuges in Tennessee, that are managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, or TWRA, who use a variety of techniques to make sure plants and animals thrive here.

 

But that’s not all. WMAs give folks like us a chance to get out and enjoy recreational activities like hunting, fishing and wildlife watching. It’s not just about the game species we might like to hunt, like whitetail deer or mourning dove, but also about all the other critters that call these places home, from indigo buntings to red-tailed hawks. Wildlife Management Areas, such as Forks of the River, are funded by licensed sportsmen by the sale of hunting and fishing licenses.

 

And last but not least, WMAs play a big role in bringing wildlife-based tourism to Tennessee, which helps support local communities and economies. So, whether you’re here to explore, to hunt, or just to appreciate the beauty of the sunflowers today, remember that WMAs are here for everyone to enjoy and protect.

 

TWRA uses many different techniques at different WMAs throughout the state. One technique you’ll see here involves planting of agriculture crops to provide essential resources (like flowers, leaves, and seeds) for wildlife. Take, for example, the stunning sunflower fields you are here to see today. These aren’t just for show – they’re a buffet for all sorts of creatures, from bees and butterflies to deer and songbirds.  Did you know each sunflower head can contain up to 2,000 tiny flowers, where the seeds develop?

 

Now let’s talk about pollinators. These vital creatures, including bees, birds, and even mammals, play a crucial role in plant reproduction. Unfortunately, their populations have declined significantly in recent years due to habitat loss. But there’s hope! By supporting initiatives like WMAs and using native plants in landscaping, we can create more habitats and help these important pollinators thrive.

 

So, as you enjoy the beauty of these sunflower fields and the diverse wildlife they support, remember the role we can all play in preserving these precious ecosystems. Together, we can make a difference for both wildlife and ourselves.

 

Finally, a few fun facts about sunflowers you can share around the dinner table tonight:

  • Young sunflowers use heliotropism to track the movement of the sun across the sky, allowing them to maximize their exposure to sunlight.
  • Mature sunflowers face east which allows them to attract up to five times more pollinators because they warm up faster than westward facing plants
  • Not all sunflowers are yellow! There are over 70 species of sunflowers that vary in size, color and appearance and ranging in shades of red, orange or even white
  • The seed-like interior of the sunflower head are actually thousands of tiny flowers. And each petal on the circumference of a sunflower is a flower itself
  • Sunflowers are native to the United States
  • The tallest sunflower on record stood at 30 feet – most here grow to 6-8 feet

 

 

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