Management activities focus on water, grasslands, forest, invasive species control and public use. The refuge has restored hundreds of acres of previously drained wetlands and has also constructed 570 acres of impoundments where shallow water levels can be regulated to benefit migratory birds, especially waterfowl. Water levels are manipulated in the impoundments to create conditions that provide for a mix of aquatic vegetation, and open water.
The goals of the refuge's grassland management program are to provide a diversity of field types, reduce the encroachment of woody shrubs, and encourage the growth of a variety of grasses. Some of the grassland management techniques include periodic mowing, prescribed burning and planting.
The refuge also manages a mosaic of brushland on the eastern portion of the refuge. These areas are thriving with many different animals thought the range of season. All of these brushland areas are on a periodical mowing schedule ranging from 4 years to 8 years. Thought out this mosaic of habitat types Great Swamp also maintains a healthy forest with a ranging age structure, ground cover, and canopy cover.
Numerous invasive, exotic species are found at Great Swamp and to manage a healthy ecosystem Great Swamp actively tries to remove these species from the refuge. The refuge currently has an “Early Detection Rapid Response” team that surveys and removes new invasive species. Along with this team there is a dedicated group to remove other established invaders such as Japanese barberry, wisteria, multiflora rose, and garlic muster to name a few. Purple loosestrife is the exotic species that has have an impact on the quality of habitats available at Great Swamp. Current management of purple loosestrife primarily involves the use of biological control agents, weevils and beetles that are host-specific (feed and live exclusively on purple loosestrife).
The public use program at Great Swamp provides wildlife-oriented educational and recreational opportunities compatible with refuge purposes. Public-use facilities and programs include the 2-mile auto tour route, 10.5 miles of trails, visitor center, observation blinds, white-tail deer hunting, educational programs and materials, guided tours and special events. Exhibits, brochures, kiosks and programs are used to convey information to the public about the management activities and programs of the refuge, as well as those of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is located only 26 miles west of New York City’s Times Square. It is a 12-square-mile natural oasis in an area that is mostly suburban, making the refuge an outstanding area for migrating waterfowl to stop, rest and feed on their migration.