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Science

Lamprey surveys are conducted annually on refuge streams/USFWS Photo

Willapa National Wildlife Refuge conducts high-priority inventory and monitoring (survey) activities as well as research, assessments, and studies to enhance endangered and threatened species protection and recovery as well as habitat management and restoration activities. The gathering of scientific information assists in evaluating resource management and public use activities to facilitate adaptive management and contribute to the enhancement, protection, use, preservation and management of wildlife populations and their habitats on and off refuge lands. Specifically, they can be used to evaluate achievement of resource management objectives in the 2011 Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan. These activities strive for:

  • Data collection techniques would likely have minimal animal mortality or disturbance and minimal habitat destruction.
  • Minimum number of samples (e.g., water, soils, vegetative litter, plants, macroinvertebrates, vertebrates) to meet statistical analysis requirements would be collected for identification and/or experimentation in order to minimize long-term or cumulative impacts.
  • Proper cleaning of investigator equipment and clothing as well as quarantine methods, where necessary, would minimize the spread or introduction of invasive species.
  • Projects would adhere to scientifically defensible protocols for data collection, where available and applicable.

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Science as Report Card 

The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as amended, requires that the Service “monitor the status and trends of fish, wildlife, and plants in each refuge.” Surveys would be used primarily to evaluate resource response to assess progress toward achieving refuge management objectives derived from the National Wildlife Refuge System mission, refuge purpose(s), and maintenance of biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health. Determining resource status and evaluating progress toward achieving objectives is essential to implementing adaptive management on Department of Interior lands as required by policy. Specifically, results of surveys would be used to refine management strategies, where necessary, over time in order to achieve resource objectives. Surveys would provide the best available scientific information to promote transparent decision-making processes for resource management over time on refuge lands.

Science as a Management Tool 

Inventories, monitoring, research, assessments, and studies are essential to high-quality habitat and population management. Conducting population surveys for the western snowy plover and compiling data are critical to evaluate population status and measure progress toward goals stated in the Recovery Plan. Similarly, other wildlife populations, habitat conditions, and habitat management practices, including restoration efforts, must be monitored to evaluate their status and effectiveness. Population trends can be used to evaluate habitat effectiveness and guide management actions.

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Science Supports the Development of Best Practices for Wildlife 

Refuges must collect site-specific information and conduct defensible research to provide information for devising, guiding, and adapting management practices. Monitoring habitat conditions provides valuable support and sound decision making as applied to refuge resource management and also contributes to the Service’s ability to modify management practices (adaptive management). Applied research on the Refuge would help address management issues and questions, in theory, would result in improved management decisions for the Refuge and the region.

Working Together for Wildlife - Partnerships in Conservation 

The Refuge has always maintained a close working relationship with several State, tribal, and local agencies and universities in order to advance the knowledge base of a variety of habitats and plant and wildlife species.

Research is valuable for protecting and understanding Refuge resources, determining natural resource components and their interactions, and understanding the consequences of management actions on the parts and the whole. Research is also necessary for the overall advancement of science and scientific inquiry. The Refuge and the surrounding area (with the involvement of The Nature Conservancy) have been recognized as a premier location to conduct forest restoration research due to the character of the forest environment. Applied research by universities and other entities would be encouraged and would help address management issues and answer questions, allowing an opportunity to improve management decisions.

Invasive species are a major threat to high-quality wildlife habitat, and they pose a major problem in the restoration and recovery of rare and listed species. Efforts would be made to work with partners as much as possible in a combined effort to pinpoint infestations and plan and coordinate control efforts both on and off the Refuge.

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Page Photo Credits — Lamprey survey - USFWS
Last Updated: Dec 16, 2013
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