Lucius E. Burch, Jr. Class I Scenic-Recreational State Natural Area

lucius Burch webpage

Lucius E. Burch is a 728-acre natural area located in Memphis, Shelby County and is a part of a larger 6,000-acre county park, Shelby Farms Park. The natural area is a remnant of historic river meanders, bald cypress-water tupelo swamps, bottomland hardwood forests, and open river channel habitat. Unfortunately, much of this ecosystem has been significantly altered as a result of change in hydrology and the invasion of Chinese privet, an invasive exotic pest plant. Lucius E. Burch Natural Area offers passive recreation activities such as day hiking, bird watching, and wildlife viewing within the metropolitan Memphis area. The natural area is a relatively large unfragmented forest that follows the banks of the Wolf River. It provides a refuge for forest dwelling birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians within an urbanized environment.

Lucius E. Burch State Natural Area is a place where impacts on the resource can be interpreted and used as an educational tool to demonstrate the ecological effects of river channelization (straightening of the river channel) and the impacts of invasive exotic pest plants. This outdoor living classroom is reacting to the change in environmental conditions since it was channelized. Chinese privet is native to Asia and has been widely used as hedges in urban landscaping. It has spread throughout the understory at Lucius E. Burch and has displaced many native species. Its impact is indicative of a problem facing all urban natural areas where adjacent landowners introduce invasive exotic pest plants. These landscaping practices create the seed source from which invasive exotics are distributed into natural areas by animals, wind, or water. Privet has invaded at Lucius E. Burch since drier site conditions were created by the channelization of the Wolf River. This invasion often occurs when a natural ecological disturbance regime has been altered or where the native landscape has been severely changed by development. Historically, the site was bottomland forest and a part of the Wolf River floodplain. This is evident by the occurrence of large cypress trees that are periodically encountered in relatively dry habitats. The state-listed Copper iris (Iris fulva) is found in some existing low wet areas in the natural area.

Site Management

Shelby Farms Park, 6903 Great View Dr. N., Memphis, TN 38134, phone (901) 222-7275. Division of Natural Areas, Jackson Field Office, 1625 Hollywood Drive, Jackson TN 38305, phone (731) 512-1369. Division of Natural Areas, William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower, 312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 2nd Floor, Nashville TN 37243, phone (731) 532-0431.

Public Access

Open to the Public - Full Access
Public access is provided at multiple locations. Contact Shelby Farms Park for trail maps, park hours, and additional natural area information.

Parking: Yes
Trail: Yes
Dogs on Leash: Yes
Hunting: No
Fishing: No
Camping: No


Take I-40 to Memphis, exit I-40 onto I-240, exit Walnut Grove Road East. On Walnut Grove Rd., cross the Wolf River and follow the signs for Shelby Farms Park.

Details & Map