A. Scope and
rationale. Provide a brief discussion of the scope and
rationale for developing an HMP.
B. Legal mandates.
List the refuge purpose(s), the System mission, and any other legal mandate
or responsibility that you must meet when managing specific resources on the
C. Relationship to other plans.
Explicitly describe how the HMP is consistent with other plans (e.g.,
threatened and endangered species recovery plans, Service ecosystem plans,
State fish and wildlife conservation plans, North American Waterfowl Management
Plan, Partners in Flight plans, flyway management plans, national/regional
shorebird plans, and fisheries resource plans) relevant to the refuge, and
how the refuge actions will achieve refuge purpose(s), the System mission,
and contribute to goals and objectives of those plans. Identify
conflicts between these various sources and document resolution of
conflicts. You must resolve conflicts in favor of and in priority order
of refuge purpose(s), System mission, and other plans.
II. Background. Provide a detailed description of refuge
habitats, including the historic and current condition, and changes over
time. This section establishes the frame of reference, in accordance
with maintaining or restoring the biological integrity, diversity, and environmental
health of the refuge (see 601 FW
3), for developing habitat goals and objectives and development and
implementation of specific habitat management strategies.
A. Inventory and description of habitat.
(1) Location -- List the distance to major cities,
list county(ies) where the refuge is located, and include State(s) vicinity
(2) Management units -- Describe the location, size, and purpose(s)
of specific management units on the refuge.
(3) Physical or geographic setting -- Describe the geologic and
ecoregional setting of the refuge, the physiographic province, broad
vegetation zones, hydrology, flyway, and proximity of refuge to other
(a) Historic condition --
Identify natural plant communities and species and ecological processes that
may have existed on the refuge and surrounding landscape/seascape prior to
significant disturbances by humans. Use historical records, oral
history, old photographs, professional judgment, or any other useful source
to determine the historic condition (see 601 FW 3).
(b) Current condition -- Describe current
habitat(s). Identify individual plant or community types, vegetative
composition, soil types, water quality, invasive species, erosion
problems, hydrological and fire regimes, contaminant problems, and any
other conditions affecting habitat management. Identify existing rare,
declining, or unique natural communities, species, and ecological processes
inside and outside refuge boundaries. These species, along with the
species identified in section IIIA are important to the management of
biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health on the refuge.
(c) Habitat changes from historic condition to current condition
-- Summarize management practices from the historic condition to the
present. Consider disturbances such as agriculture, catastrophic
events, urban development, fire, hydrologic changes, contaminants, erosion,
and other practices. Identify changes and provide possible or
known explanations for these changes from the historic condition, including
increases or decreases of various habitat types. Include natural
phenomena, such as changes to a river course, as appropriate.
(4) Maps - Include map(s) of the refuge, refuge
subunit, or management area for a physical frame of reference. Include
cover types, physical features, and unique resources. Use standard
classification systems such as the National Wetlands Inventory and National
Vegetation Classification System, and geographic information systems, where
possible, to analyze potential habitat contribution of the refuge to the
resources of concern (see 701 FW
III. Resources of Concern. Resources of concern are the primary
focus of the HMP. The following four steps provide guidance to identify
refuge priority species, species groups, and communities; identify habitat
requirements; analyze the refuges potential contribution to the habitat
need of these species, species groups, or communities; and potential
solutions for conflicts among species or community groups.
A. Identification of
refuge resources of concern.
Identify priority refuge plant and animal species, species groups, and
communities such as those identified in refuge purpose(s). Also
consider international, national, Regional, or ecosystem goals; State fish
and wildlife conservation plans; threatened and endangered species; regional
fisheries management plans; and biological integrity, diversity, and
environmental health of these priority groups. Consider the refuges
rare, declining, or unique natural communities, species, and ecological
B. Identification of habitat
requirements. Identify habitat requirements, including
the quality and quantity, vegetative characteristics, timing of availability,
and distribution of specific habitats and associated ecological processes
necessary to support the species, species groups, and communities.
Compile additional habitat information for the resources of concern from
available sources, such as GAP analysis; geographic information system(s)
analysis; published literature; refuge reports; and local area, species, or
communities experts. Describe important information gaps for the
resources of concern. Identify studies and acknowledge limitations of
the available habitat information. The type of information available
varies depending on the specific resource identified but may include the
(1) Size, configuration, and juxtaposition of
different habitats or seral stages;
(2) Presence or absence of edge habitats;
(3) Temporal distribution of required habitat elements or
conditions based on cyclic life history needs of a species or species group;
(4) Necessity for connectivity to other habitats in the
landscape/seascape for dispersal of young, seasonal migration, and genetic
(5) Need for buffers from adjacent land uses or land cover
negatively impacting refuge habitat;
(6) Existence of appropriate hydrologic, edaphic, climatic, and
topographic conditions to support the resources of concern; and
(7) Conservation of the remnant habitats supporting, or having the
potential to support, native biological communities or processes.
C. Potential refuge
contribution to the habitat needs of the resources of concern.
Assess and identify the refuges potential contribution to the habitat
needs of the resources of concern. Consider life cycle requirements and
habitats afforded by other refuges, private lands, marine protected areas,
and conservation areas within the surrounding ecosystem. Consider
abiotic components such as topography, geology, hydrology, water quality, and
soils that support, or could potentially support, resources of concern.
D. Reconciling conflicting habitat
needs for resources of concern.
Consider the relative priority for each resource of concern using refuge
purpose(s) or any other legal or biological mandate, and discuss management
activities that result in the optimal management strategy for those
resources. Provide discussion and rationale to resolve conflicting
habitat needs. Base resolution of the conflicts should be based on the
relative importance of the resources of concern considering refuge
purpose(s), the System mission, and applicable laws, regulations, or plans.
IV. Habitat Goals and Objectives. (See
Writing Refuge Management Goals and Objectives: A Handbook for more
information on the qualities of good goals and objectives.)
A. Restate habitat goals and objectives from CCPs
that apply to the refuge, refuge unit, or management area for which you are
developing the HMP. These habitat objectives provide the fundamental
foundation for specific habitat management plans.
B. If you have completed a CCP, but habitat goals and objectives do
not provide the level of specificity necessary to manage habitat on refuge
lands, then restate the goals and objectives described in the CCP and add
detail to those habitat objectives, as necessary, utilizing criteria outlined
in section II.
C. If you have not completed a CCP, develop habitat goals and
objectives based on a comprehensive habitat analysis conducted for the
resources of concern. These habitat objectives concisely state the
habitat conditions desired for the resources of concern.
(1) Use scientific information, expert
opinion, and professional judgment to clearly support each habitat goal and
objective for the resources of concern. Habitat objectives contain the
SMART criteria: Specific (who, what, where, when, and why); Measurable;
Achievable; Results-oriented; and Time-fixed as recommended in Writing
Refuge Management Goals and Objectives: A Handbook, as referenced in 602 FW 1, 602 FW 3 & 602 FW 4.
(2) Use habitat models, as appropriate, to help develop
habitat objectives. A model may be simple or complex, but generally
contains explicit descriptions of the relationship among the management
activity, the habitat, and the resources of concern. Models provide a
clear and explicit expression of the logic and assumptions used to guide
management strategies, allowing improved communication and the formulation of
testable management strategies for an adaptive process.
V. Habitat Management
Strategies. Use the following steps to select specific
habitat management strategies and develop prescriptions to meet habitat
A. Potential management strategies. Identify potential management
strategies for specific habitat objectives utilizing information compiled in sections II - IV
(e.g., burning, water control, moist-soil management, forest management,
haying, mowing, grazing, cropland management, predator or pest
control). Conduct a literature review, examine limiting factors, and
consult with experts to identify the most effective strategy(ies) to
accomplish habitat objectives.
B. Management strategy constraints. Discuss how the potential
management strategy(ies) may affect the refuges ability to successfully
implement each strategy.
C. Impacts to the resources of
concern associated with the implementation of the proposed habitat management
strategies. Provide an analysis of the potential positive
and negative impacts of each proposed strategy on resources of concern as
well as nontarget resources. Determine the management strategies
necessary to meet habitat objectives with the most positive effects on refuge
D. Management strategy selection.
Using sound professional judgment, select the specific management
strategy(ies) identified above necessary to accomplish habitat
objectives. Provide clear rationale for the decision.
E. Management strategy prescriptions.
Discuss the prescription for each selected strategy, by habitat
objective. Include the following, as appropriate:
(1) Location -- Identify on a map, refuge
management units where each strategy may be used.
(2) Timing -- Identify the appropriate timing associated with each
strategy to achieve desired habitat conditions. Consider vegetative
response of the habitat and potential conflicts with other habitat and
wildlife objectives. For example, time the fall burning of grasslands
in order to provide early spring green-up of native grasslands for foraging
sandhill cranes and geese. Prescribed burning would occur in October
when staging cranes have left the refuge and grasses are sufficiently dry to
provide the appropriate fire intensity. Other variables to consider
include time of day and duration of the activity. Use biological
criteria to define the timing when possible. Once you have considered
and selected biological criteria, consider incorporating visitor services
programs to maximize recreational or educational opportunities provided by
the habitat management activities or to reduce habitat management activity
conflicts with public use activities.
(3) Frequency -- Indicate the required frequency to achieve desired
habitat conditions. Use biological criteria in determining the
frequency when possible.
(4) Intensity -- Describe the intensity of the strategy required to
achieve the desired habitat objective. Examples include the depth and
length of inundation, residual cover, fire intensity, etc. Use
biological criteria in determining the intensity when possible.
(1) Necessary resources -- Identify the fiscal
resources necessary to successfully implement the HMP. Include staff
needs for planning, administration, implementation, and monitoring; funding
needs (e.g., water, fuel, seed, contract labor, materials, physical
improvements); and equipment. Include additional resources necessary to
successfully implement the HMP in future budget requests (i.e., Refuge
Operating Needs System) to help address staff and funding shortages
precluding full, but practical, implementation of the HMP.
(2) Documentation of special uses -- Identify and document special
uses (e.g., grazing, haying, cropland management, timber sales) with special
use permits (603 FW 3). Include compatibility determinations for refuge
management economic activities, where applicable.
(3) Documentation of compliance -- Identify and include
documentation of compliance of applicable laws including permits, as
necessary, to implement selected habitat management strategies (e.g., section
404, air quality permits, ESA compliance, or cultural resource clearance).
Include a bibliography of references related to information essential to the
development of the HMP.