Most of the work involves managing the habitat. It's about clearing vegetation from water control structures and pulling invasive species. It's about running backhoes and cutting trees. It's about create the special conditions so that others can visit exotic locations and see ferrets and sea turtles.
At Cold Springs NWR, much of the management is aimed at controlling invasive species, such as yellow starthistle. To help wildlife, refuge staff uses a variety of habitat management techniques to maintain, recover or enhance wildlife values in the shrub-steppe, as well as in other habitats. Refuge staff carefully considers any management techniques and employ them in varying degrees according to the situation. Prescribed burning, mowing, experimental bio-control insect releases, and seeding are all techniques used to help native plants in the shrub-steppe recover. Willow and cottonwood saplings are planted to expand and strengthen wildlife values in the riparian zones. Water levels are carefully monitored and controlled to foster desired plant growth in seasonal wetlands. Sometimes, sensitive areas are closed to the public so that the land can recover more quickly.
Critical to managing a refuge is creation of a master plan, a long-term vision for the refuge. Currently, the FWS is in the process of developing a new management plan—known as a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP)—that will guide the refuge for the next 15 years and beyond. Please continue to check this website for updates and announcements concerning the planning process. A draft plan is expected later this year.
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Everyone loves skunks—unless, of course, you’re downwind—from Bambi’s gentle friend Flower to the amorous travails of Pepe Le Pew. While real skunks are little like their cartoon depictions, they are fascinating and play an important role.