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Resource Management

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A primary purpose of Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge is to provide suitable nesting and brood rearing habitat for waterfowl, as well as other wildlife.


The Refuge System is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Service is the primary Federal entity responsible for conserving and enhancing the Nation’s fish and wildlife populations and their habitats. Although the Service shares this responsibility with other Federal, State, tribal, local, and private entities, the Service has specific trust resource responsibilities for migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, certain anadromous fish, certain marine mammals, coral reef ecosystems, wetlands, and other special aquatic habitats. The Service also has similar trust responsibilities for the lands and waters it administers to support the conservation and enhancement of all fish and wildlife and their associated habitats.

At Arapaho NWR, to help plants and wildlife, refuge staff use a variety of habitat management techniques to maintain, recover or enhance plant and wildlife values. Refuge staff carefully considers any management techniques and employs them in varying degrees according to the situation. Several habitat management tools are used to maintain and enhance habitat, including grazing, prescribed burning, noxious weed control, mowing, seeding and the most important tool for refuge wetlands - water management.  Sometimes, sensitive areas are closed to the public so that the land can recover more quickly.

Water is diverted from the Illinois River and directed through a complex system of ditches to irrigate meadows and fill waterfowl brood ponds.  Water levels are manipulated in the shallow ponds to assure optimal aquatic vegetation for food and escape cover.  These ponds also produce many insects and other invertebrates which are an important food source for female waterfowl as they raise their young.  These insects are also essential food for ducklings and goslings during the summer months.

The Refuge also uses a Limited Draw elk hunt as a resource management tool to protect the the riparian habitat from over-utilization. As intended, the special hunt, having just completed the third year in 2014, may be having an effect on the elk's movement and use of the Refuge. We will monitor this to see if it's a fluke or if the hunting pressure will reduce the negative impacts on the riparian willows.  The elk now seem to be choosing to use the Case Flats (closed to hunting) as winter range instead of the riparian corridor on the Illinois River. Hunting success was low in 2014, but the activity and disturbance appears to be helping manage the elk that spend time on the Refuge in the winter months; even after the hunting seasons close.

Public involvement and input are important to us and to the planning process, and we hope you will take an active interest in the process, individually and as a community. 

Last Updated: Nov 26, 2014
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