Prescribed or controlled burning is used at the Refuge to maintain the water delivery system and to manipulate wildlife habitat. The Refuge maintains a complex network of water supply ditches, three of which flow through private land. These are burned annually to remove dead vegetation so that water can reach the Refuge impoundments unimpeded.
Occasionally, Refuge staff burn dry cattail marshes to control cattails. In some circumstances, cattails spread aggressivley and can completely choke a wetland. A winter or early spring burn following a drawdown can reduce cattail cover in a pond, temporarily creating an open water area. By summer's end, however, the cattails will return unless the burned area can be flooded with 3-4 feet of water during spring and early summer. This is generally not possible in most Refuge ponds, so burning is a temporary control used in conjunction with water level manipulation.
Refuge staff occasionally burn upland areas as well. This is sometimes done to rejuvenate a decadent but otherwise healthy stand of vegetation, such as a older seeding of grasses. In other cases, early spring burning is used to stimulate early growth of a newly planted seedbed. This can result in an unwanted effect if there is an existing seedbed of weeds.