Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge is intensively managed to provide habitat for migratory birds and resident wildlife. Management practices include restoration of wetlands, manipulation of seasonal wetlands to encourage native food supplies, farming, prescribed burning, planting native willows and cottonwoods in riparian areas, improving uplands through the removal of exotic weed species, and planting native grasses.
Approximately 1,4000 acres of refuge lands are irrigated croplands which provide food and cover for wildlife. Local farmers grow corn, wheat, alfalfa, and other crops under a cooperative agreement whereby the refuge's share of the crop is left in the field for wildlife.
Wetlands without a drawdown capability are routinely treated with Rotenone to control rough fish such as carp. Large monotypic stands of cattails are controlled by a combination of prescribed burning and mechanical disturbance.
Riparian and shrub-steppe habitats that are degraded by exotic species are treated singularly or in combination with prescribed fire, mechanical disturbance, chemical and biocontrols prior to seeding and planting of native species.