Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge
Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 50,000 acres in 3 counties (Jefferson, Jennings, and Ripley) and overlays that portion of the former Jefferson Proving Ground that lies north of the historic firing line where munitions were once tested. The Indiana Air National Guard operates an air-to-ground bombing range on the remaining 1,033 acres of the former proving ground north of the firing line and this property is surrounded by but not designated as part of the refuge. Jefferson Proving Ground was established by the Army in 1940 as an ordnance testing installation and closed in 1995. Beginning in 1996, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service managed the wildlife resources of the proving ground. Big Oaks Refuge was established in June 2000 as an “overlay” national wildlife refuge through a 25-year real estate permit from the U.S. Army. As an overlay refuge, the Army retains ownership and the Fish and Wildlife Service manages the property as Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge.
Know Before You Go
Because of the past use and history of the property as an ordinance testing facility, all visitors must view a safety video and sign an acknowledgement of danger form prior to entering the refuge. You can view the safety video and purchase an access permit at the refuge office on public use days (Mondays, Fridays, and the second and fourth Saturdays of the month mid-April through November) closed on federal holidays. During hunting seasons, the safety video will be shown at 7:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. on public use days and the day before the hunt.