Habitat management at Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge is entirely aimed at maintaining and sustaining the grassland complex and the biological integrity of the refuge. Recently this has included a major restoration project to break up and bury the concrete runways emblematic of the refuge’s history as an airfield, and to re-seed and restore with native grasses to improve habitat structure and integrity. Additional management techniques include mowing and the use of prescribed fire to control succession, maintain the open grasslands and prevent encroachment by woody vegetation such as shrubs and trees. Other actions include the control of invasive species such as phragmites, leafy spurge and purple loosestrife.
On October 9, 1997, the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 was signed into law . Among other things, it requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to write comprehensive conservation plans for all of the refuges in the System by 2012. CCP's are intended to describe future conditions of a refuge and provide long-range guidance and management direction to achieve the purposes of the refuge, refuge policy requirements, and the mission of the System.
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The refuge provides important habitat for wintering raptors that depend upon its expansive grasslands for hunting and cover. Raptors such as the short-eared owl (state-endangered), northern harrier (state-threatened) and rough-legged hawk (light and dark phases) can often be found hunting the open grasslands.