White River National Wildlife Refuge office and visitor center located off of Hwy. 1 in St. Charles, AR. The recently completed facility houses an auditorium, environmental education classroom, an exhibit hall, and the Friends of White River Bookstore.
The foyer is home to a 28-foot-tall replica of a cypress tree. In addition to the birds and other wildlife that inhabit this symbol of the swamp, the tree houses two bear families. A cross section of a bear den illustrates the unique denning habits of black bears on the refuge. Another scenario includes a female cub encouraging her older cubs to leave the den. The base of the tree is surrounded by an underwater diorama showcasing flora and fauna typical of the refuge's oxbow lakes.
The interpretive displays educate visitors about the human and ecological histories of the area, the hydrology of the White River, and the bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem. The center of the exhibit hall houses two miniature theaters. One educates the visitor about the importance of flooding on the refuge. The other highlights nature at night. Inside this theater, the visitor experiences the refuge on a typical night. As the light dims, a narrator discusses the common sounds of nocturnal wildlife such as frogs, owls, insects, and fox. As each call is played, an image of the animal calling is backlit on the theater wall.
The Friends of White River Bookstore carries a variety of nature books, gifts, and educational items in addition to standard amenities like insect repellent. Funds generated from bookstore profits are used to benefit the refuge by providing funds to enhance special events like the Youth Fishing Rodeo and Annual White River Wildlife Festival as well as many other refuge projects.