Egret, by Kathleen Carlyle
Welcome Show All Science Tools and Data Restoration Monitoring Water Resources

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SUPPORTING THE FIELD WITH FOREST RESOURCE MANAGEMENT EXPERTISE

We welcome Bruce Henry as the region's new Forest Ecologist, now stationed at Great River, Clarence Cannon, and Middle Mississippi River NWRs. At his duty station Bruce is responsible for general inventory and monitoring duties, along with floodplain forest management and restoration activities within the Mississippi River corridor from Keokuk, Iowa south to Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Author(s): B.Henry. Last Updated: 10/10/2018

USING SURVEYS TO WEIGH MANAGEMENT ALTERNATIVES

Spatially linked monitoring data identify efficient use of management dollars. See how Two Rivers NWR used Integrated Waterbird Management and Monitoring (IWMM) protocol to understand how funding could be best allocated to meet the management objectives and create the best habitat possible for ducks and waterbirds.

Author(s): B. Loges and J. Sexton. Last Updated: 10/10/2018

Prairie Reconstruction Initiative Field Days: Probing problems and sharing successes with others!

Field Days are local events that allow practitioners to travel to and from a site in a day, with time for discussion and brainstorming. Information exchange during Prairie Reconstruction Initiative (PRI) Field Days is fodder for enriching our understanding of the complex process of building a prairie from scratch. None of us know all the answers, so informal sharing of ideas allows us to do some novel thinking and learn from one another during visits to prairie reconstructions in the field.

Author(s): P. Drobney and P. Charland. Last Updated: 10/10/2018

How Well-intentioned Surveys Can Go Wrong

Refuge staff often prioritize long-term monitoring activities and spend extensive time and resources conducting them. However, the inconsistencies in data collection and data gaps make data analyses a huge challenge. The assumptions made and variance that stems from undocumented or missing data may severely limit our ability to interpret the results.

Author(s): P. Heglund, A. Allstadt, W. Ford, and J. Eash. Last Updated: 10/10/2018

Why Objectives, Design and Protocols Matter

Over time, the NWRS has devoted a lot of time and money to wildlife and habitat surveys that did not provide the management information that stations wanted. To ensure a solid return on investment, biologists must define survey objectives and ensure their survey designs are tied to management objectives. Further, they must document this information in a protocol and adhere to the same methods over time. Finally, biologists must make time to review and analyze the data each year. As stations begin to implement their Inventory and Monitoring Plans, staff from the Division of Natural Resources and Conservation Planning (DNRCP) will help station biologists review and document their surveys to ensure those surveys provide the intended information.

Author(s): P. Heglund et al. Last Updated: 10/10/2018

STAFF IN THE MIDWEST REGION ARE READY TO HELP YOU TACKLE THOSE TRICKY CONSERVATION PROBLEMS

Ever feel like you're trying to solve an unsolvable natural resource issue? Why are some decisions so HARD? Lucky for you the Midwest Region is increasing decision support resources to help you tackle those wicked natural resource problems that we all face. Read on to learn how regional decision analysis experts can help you!

Author(s): J. Booker, E. Dunton, and K. Rasmussen (Shaw). Last Updated: 10/10/2018

HOW ARE RAPP DATA USED?

Every year, NWRS staff are required to enter performance accomplishments, and set projections for the next year using the Refuge Annual Performance Plan (RAPP). How is this information used and why is it important to field staff? As you prepare to enter this year's information, read this short story to understand how RAPP contributes to budget decisions, and how it is used by the Service leadership and conservation partners in their decision making.

Last Updated: 7/10/2018

ARE NEONICONTINOID PESTICIDES CONTAMINATING FWS WETLANDS?

The widespread and increasing use of neonicotinoid pesticides have evoked environmental concerns, leading to a number of studies related to bees and other pollinators. However, until recently, less was known about the distribution of neonicotinoids in aquatic habitats and the potential impacts on aquatic invertebrates. The recent release of several studies have raised concerns over neonicotinoid contamination of wetlands. Therefore, to investigate potential threats to wetland dependent species, the Service has initiated wetland water sampling across several Midwest Region field stations.

Author(s): Josh Eash. Last Updated: 7/10/2018

SUPPORTING THE FIELD WITH STRUCTURED PROCESSES

Invasive species are the top threat to management on Midwest Region stations. Given the scope of the problem and limited funding, our invasive species management needs to be strategic and efficient. Regional Invasive Species Coordinator and Division of Natural Resources and Conservation Planning Zone Biologist Joshua Booker helps the field get the most bang for their invasive species management buck.

Author(s): Joshua Booker. Last Updated: 7/10/2018

SUPPORTING THE FIELD WITH STRUCTURED PROCESSES

Invasive species are the top threat to management on Midwest Region stations. Given the scope of the problem and limited funding, our invasive species management needs to be strategic and efficient. Regional Invasive Species Coordinator and Division of Natural Resources and Conservation Planning Zone Biologist Joshua Booker helps the field get the most bang for their invasive species management buck.

Author(s): Joshua Booker. Last Updated: 7/10/2018

WHY METADATA MATTERS

In the early 1960's, Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring convinced the public and the government that DDT represented a major threat to our environment. How did she do it? Metadata! While your own metadata may not be as compelling as Silent Spring, in this article we explain why quality metadata are important and shares tools that can help you create useful metadata files.

Author(s): Mary Balogh, Kristin Shaw, Andy Allstadt. Last Updated: 7/10/2018

FOCUSING ON COMPREHENSIVE CONSERVATION PLANS, WILDERNESS COORDINATION, AND ADMINISTRATION SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO!

The Midwest Region Division of Natural Resources and Conservation Planning welcomes Kristin Shaw to our team. Kristin joined us as a Conservation Planner, and in addition to working with outstanding CCPs and NEPA, she will serve as our Regional Wilderness Coordinator and gatekeeper for Compatibility Determinations in the Regional Office. Read on for more about Kristin.

Author(s): K. Shaw Last Updated: 4/3/2018

FY 2020 AND FY 2021 LARGE INVASIVE SPECIES PROJECT PROPOSALS

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) received a $1 million increase in funding for invasive species management. The additional funding provides an opportunity to focus on large, expensive projects that are often difficult to fund. Headquarters anticipates allocating these funds again in FY 2020 and FY 2021 and are requesting project ideas from the Regions through a Request for Proposals (RFP) (Found in the Document Tracking System - DTS, #067460).

Author(s): K. Shaw Last Updated: 4/3/2018

A healthy and diverse pollinator community is essential to achieving our habitat objectives by helping plants to reproduce. In turn, pollinators depend on us to provide the habitat they need for their livelihood. Paul Charland, our Midwest Region NWRS Pollinator Coordinator, is here to help stations better understand how we can promote healthier pollinator populations.

Author(s): P. Charland. Last Updated: 4/2/2018

Considerable time and public resources have been invested in conducting bird surveys on NWRS land. Preserving and making these data publicly available will allow refuges and their partners to track population trends, perform analyses, generate reports, make informed management decisions, and share their data with others in the conservation community.

Author(s): K. Carlyle. Last Updated: 4/2/2018

As recently as the late 1990s, the rusty patched bumble bee was abundant across its range of 22 United States and Ontario, Canada. Less than 20 years later, it has become the first endangered bumble bee. Ecological Services and partners, including Refuges, are teaming up to find out why.

Author(s): T. Smith, P. Charland, A. Horton, and A. Allstadt. Last Updated: 4/2/2018

UPCOMING TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES IN THE MIDWEST REGION

Spring is just around the corner, and just like your favorite baseball team it's time for some spring training. We have several upcoming opportunities for training within the Midwest Region that can help you inventory your forest invasives, interpret your waterfowl data, monitor your monarchs or your native or reconstructed prairie, develop your own monitoring project, and stay up to date with GIS. Read on for more details!

Author(s):DNRCP Zone Biologists and Gabriel DeAlessio. Last Updated: 4/2/2018

DNRCP "BIOHUBS" SUPPORT STATIONS ACROSS REGION 3

In 2017, the Division of Natural Resources and Conservation Planning (DNRCP) piloted a "BioHub" concept, where we hired 10 seasonal biological technicians to support data collection and management for Regional and National priorities. Here, the biotechs or their supervisors share their work and accomplishments from the past summer.

Author(s): Div. of Natural Resources and Conservation Policy. Last Updated: 11/29/2017

What makes a great prairie planting? Those of us engaged in prairie reconstruction need to know. The Prairie Reconstruction Initiative has created a central database to systematically collect information on plantings, so that we can tease out what works, what doesn't, and why, by pooling our data across the FWS and partner organizations.

Author(s): P. Drobney, A. McColpin, and P. Charland. Last Updated: 11/29/2017

SPREADING OUR BRANCHES IN THE FWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is known for its stewardship of natural resources, but expertise in forest ecology and management has long been underrepresented in the Service. The Forest Ecology Working Group is addressing the issue. As a first step, they worked with NCTC to develop an introductory forest ecology and management class, first held in September 2017.

Author(s): H. Barnhill and C. Ware. Last Updated: 11/29/2017

SHARING EXPERIENCE IN CONSERVATION

As our ability to use prescribed fire declines, prairie land managers are seeking alternative ways to accomplish this disturbance, including use of grazing to defoliate grasslands. However, grazing practices mimic a different set of biological processes than those set off by the application of fire. To spur conversation among land managers on this topic, Morris Wetland Management District hosted a Prairie Reconstruction Initiative Field Day titled "Can cattle grazing maintain plant diversity in prairie plantings?"

Author(s): R. Esser and M. Barnes. Last Updated: 11/29/2017

CONNECTIONS BETWEEN THE LAND, THE WATER, AND EVERYONE WHO USES THEM

Nutrients are fundamental building blocks of life, but in excess they can create ecosystem imbalances such as shifts in species composition, diversity, and abundance, challenges to habitat management, and health risks or death to fish, birds, other animals, and even humans. Nutrient pollution affects many aspects of the Service’s mission. Luckily there are actions we can take to manage nutrients more sustainably. Learn more...

Author(s): S. Gerlach, J. Eash. Last Updated: 8/10/2017

COLLABORATIVE SCIENCE IN THE SERVICE

Bush honeysuckles are shrubs that invade a wide variety of natural communities, including wetlands, prairies, savannas and woodlands, common to the Midwest Region. Traditional honeysuckle control is labor intensive and expensive. A grassroots experiment, led by a USFWS biologist, has resulted in new control methods that will make conservation dollars go farther.

Author(s): A. Allstadt, A. DiAllesandro and J. Randa. Last Updated: 8/10/2017

PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS CHALLENGES FACING THE MIDWEST REGION NWRS

The Science of Conservation Workshop was held January, 2017, in LaCrosse, WI. In advance of the workshop, an online survey was distributed to field staff to identify the topics and agenda items of greatest interest. The survey responses also indicate the science support needs and challenges facing our region.

Author(s): A. Allstadt, J. Eash, M. Balogh. Last Updated: 8/10/2017

Over the past few years refuges across the country have entered their Inventory and Monitoring surveys into the PRIMR database. In Spring 2017, the Midwest Region became the first region to use a new feature to record our annual survey activity. This feature replaced a section of RAPP reporting in a manner that improves accuracy, integrates with our other data systems, and improves utility at the station and regional levels.

Author(s): A. Allstadt. Last Updated: 4/30/2017

ONE-STOP SOURCE FOR BANDER TRAINING MATERIALS

The mysteries of animal migration have fascinated scientists for hundreds of years. Our understanding of migration and the conservation of birds is greatly enhanced each time we capture, carefully measure, and release a healthy bird. Banding leaders understand that by providing effective, accessible training we promote excellent data collection and high quality data that continue to deepen and broaden our understanding of the ecology of birds.

Author(s): Carlyle, Herner-Thogmartin, and Heglund. Last Updated: 4/30/2017

The National Wildlife Refuge System protects some of the most important wildlife habitat in the Midwest Region, but only represent a fraction of the overall landscape. Collaboration with the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program provides an avenue to promote refuge conservation objectives into the broader landscape. Here we present a successful example of a collaborative project to boost populations of the state endangered crawfish frog (Lithobates areolatus) on private land.

Author(s): B. Walker. Last Updated: 4/30/2017

DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS

At the Science of Conservation 2017 workshop in La Crosse, WI, over 150 participants spent three days discussing science and other information needs. The DNRCP has synthesized the priority action items identified by attendees into a draft workplan for DNRCP and the region. Now we need your feedback! Read more to read the draft and comment…

Author(s): P. Heglund et al. Last Updated: 4/30/2017

THE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE SYSTEM'S NATURAL RESOURCE PROGRAM

Over the past 10 years, the Midwest Region's NWRS staff have worked together to develop conservation plans and strengthen our evidence-based restoration and management activities. As we complete our planning phase and move towards implementation, it is time to take stock of what we have accomplished and consider how we can continue to use science to advance future resource restoration and management.

Author(s): P. Heglund. Last Updated: 1/18/2017

We all want our work to matter; we want it to ultimately benefit the ecosystems in our care. We want to leave a legacy. For a NWRS biologist, a well-documented survey, that produces scientifically-defensible information and informs key decisions is a legacy to be proud of.

Author(s): M. Knutson. Last Updated: 1/18/2017

REGIONAL EVALUATION OF NETWORK EFFECTIVENESS, PARTICIPATION, AND FUNCTIONALITY

In 2006, the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) in the Midwest Region developed four ecologically based biology networks to facilitate communication, foster mutual support, and provide forums for biological issues. In 2014, the DNRCP conducted an evaluation of the networks to better understand member-network participation and determine if adjustments were needed.

Author(s): Author: E. Dunton, K. Mangan, C. Smith, and P. Heglund. Last Updated: 1/18/2017.

SHARING AN UNDERSTANDING OF FLOODPLAIN ECOLOGY AND LARGE RIVER SYSTEMS

The Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are two of the world's largest river systems on par with the Nile, Amazon and Yangtze Rivers. But both rivers, along with most of their associated tributaries, have been hydrologically modified by a series of locks and dams. Restoration and management of habitats within dynamic systems like rivers can be extremely challenging. The Big Rivers Network provides biologists and managers along the river a way to join forces and learn from one another.

Author(s): R. King. Last Updated: 1/11/2017

RECREATING AND PROTECTING TWO OF THE MOST IMPERILED ECOSYSTEMS ON THE PLANET

The Prairie Network is the largest of the four ecological networks in the Midwest Region, spanning in width from Iowa to Indiana and running its length from Minnesota to Missouri. It is the largest Network, and also has the least original habitat left intact.

Author(s): R. King. Last Updated: 1/11/2017

WORKING TOGETHER TO RESTORE HABITAT AND SUPPORT WILDLIFE

The Eastern Broadleaf Forest Biology Network (EBFN) is small, but effective. Over the past 10 years, network members have engaged in several projects that demonstrate their ability to tackle the challenges of restoring ecological function in highly modified systems through cooperative learning and partnerships.

Author(s): B. Walker, J. Booker, P. Heglund. Last Updated: 1/4/2017

BRINGING BIOLOGISTS ACROSS FOUR STATES TOGETHER

The Laurentian Mixed Forest/Great Lakes Coastal Biological Network includes field stations that share land stewardship challenges. The network provides a forum for the field biologists, including those in the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, and refuge managers in the Laurentian Mixed Forest/Great Lakes Coastal Ecoregion to share valuable biological information.

Author(s): J. Booker, Last Updated: 1/4/2017

In 2006, the Midwest Region's National Wildlife Refuge System held a Biological Workshop that provided a path for improving the System's Biological Program. Ten years have passed since the biological networks were established and with a new upcoming biological workshop, a reflection on the networks is now due.

Author(s): R. King, Last Updated: 1/4/2017

MIDWEST REGION BIOLOGICAL NETWORKS MENTOR NEW BIOLOGISTS AND BUILD LEADERSHIP SKILLS

The Midwest Region National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) Biological Networks provide unique leadership development opportunities for Partners for Fish and Wildlife and NWRS biologists.

Author(s): R. King, Last Updated: 1/4/2017

STAYING AFLOAT WITH FLOOD TRACKING AND TRENDS

In the spring of 2011, refuge biologist Eric Dunton and other staff at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge watched water levels on the Shiawassee River rising rapidly. The refuge staff and surrounding landowners scrambled into action to fortify the levee that protects both refuge infrastructure, as well as local farms. As the makeshift team jumped into tractors, grabbed shovels and loaded sandbags, they took something equally as important with them.

Author(s): J. Gruetzman, Last Updated: 12/14/2016

HOUSING GROWTH AROUND REFUGES IS THREATENING BIODIVERSITY AND CONNECTIVITY

Our world is expected to add another billion people within the next 15 years, bringing the total global population to 8.5 billion by 2030. But that growing population needs housing, and housing adjacent to refuges is highly desirable. Unfortunately low- and high-density housing is isolating our refuges. We need to act NOW to increase the size of our refuges and provide natural corridors between refuges, or our opportunities will be lost.

Author(s): P. Heglund and M. Mitchell, Last Updated: 12/14/2016

TIPS AND TOOLS FOR BIRD BANDING DEMONSTRATIONS

Bird banding is used frequently by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff in the Midwest Region as a tool for research and educational programs. Increasingly popular International Migratory Bird Day demonstrations, community involvement activities, and school group education days have prompted the development of tips, tools, and guidelines for banding with the public to ensure a safe and successful educational event.

Author(s): K. Carlyle et al., Last Updated: 12/14/2016

USGS and national wildlife refuges teamed up to test fire as a method of controlling the proliferation of invasive cattails (for example, Typha x glauca, T. angustifolia) in impoundments. Results indicated that total cattail cover recovers to pre-burn levels within 1 year, regardless of whether the controlled burn was implemented during the growing season or dormant season. The response of cattail to prescribed burns is complex, and proper evaluation of the effects of controlled burns will likely require multi-year studies and long-term monitoring. Important deficiencies in the placement or condition of water control structures for purposes of habitat management were uncovered during the study.

Author(s): M. Knutson, Last Updated: 12/8/2016

NWRS GIS PRIORITY LAYERS

No large enterprise, including the National Wildlife Refuge System, can function as a "system" without a robust, central data management system. This shortcoming has been noted for decades, but until now there has been no plan in place to address it for geospatial data. In 2016, national refuge leadership decided to tackle the problem; they identified six essential data layers needed by all refuges, with a 5-year action plan for bringing them together in a unified, central system.

Author(s): G. DeAlessio, Last Updated: 12/8/2016

WATER QUALITY MONITORING UPSTREAM AND DOWN

With water's capacity to easily transport pollutants away and out of sight, land and water use practices are often conducted without regard to downstream water quality. Unfortunately, areas managed by the Service often occur in low lying areas where contaminants can collect and concentrate. The impact can be enough to cause harm ecosystems by slowly degrading habitats, promoting growth of invasive plants, and undermining Service efforts. The Midwest Region has initiated efforts to test and understand water quality conditions on our field stations.

Author(s): J. Gruetzman, D. MacDonald, Last Updated: 12/8/2016.

BRINGING SOME PREDICTABILITY TO THE UNCERTAINTY OF OUR CHANGING CLIMATE

Climate change is increasing the number and magnitude of extreme weather events, and managers need to understand and prepare for these changes. In 2011, the Service partnered with NASA's Ecological Forecasting Program and the UW-Madison to look at the potential impacts of climate change and extreme weather on bird populations on national wildlife refuges in the continental United States.

Authors: P. Heglund, Last Updated: 11/30/2016

HOW DOES MY REFUGE CONTRIBUTE TO WATERBIRD CONSERVATION, LOCALLY, REGIONALLY, AND WITHIN THE FLYWAY?

In a previous story, we discussed the Integrated Waterbird Management and Monitoring (IWMM) project, which includes a standardized monitoring protocol and is becoming widespread. But how are those data used? Here we describe how data collected on waterbird use, wetland condition, and management actions through the IWMM project can help us evaluate the results of our management efforts in several ways.

Authors: B. Loges, Last Updated: 11/30/2016

UP-FRONT MANAGEMENT DECISIONS AFFECT THE SUCCESS OF NATIVE COVER IN PRAIRIE PLANTINGS

Prairie managers report spending 25% of their time battling invasives and seeking ways to improve the quality of prairie plantings. In this project, scientists and land managers from four Midwest Region NWRS field stations teamed up in a 10-year effort to investigate if pre-restoration planting decisions can reduce invasion by Canada thistle and other exotic plant species.

Authors: P. Drobney, Last Updated: 11/30/2016

SURVEYS HELP REFUGES CONSERVE BAT SPECIES AND AVOID UNINTENDED TAKE

Bat surveys have taken center stage in the wake of white-nose syndrome and the associated population declines. The Indiana bat and Northern Long-eared Bat, both found in the Midwest Region, are listed under the Endangered Species Act. Many refuge stations are considering inventories or monitoring of all forest dwelling bats to be better informed of this jeopardized animal group.

Authors: B. Loges, Last Updated: 11/16/2016

WATER RESOURCE INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENTS


Water Resource Inventory and Assessments (WRIAs) provide a detailed inventory of field station water features, infrastructure, monitoring data, etc., as well as an assessment of climate trends, and water-related threats and needs.

Authors: J. Eash, Last Updated: 11/16/2016

SHARING GIS IN THE CLOUD

In the past, using Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) has required specialized training and sharing data has been difficult. Now ArcGIS Online (AGOL) and its associated tools have made it easy to collect data, conduct basic analyses, and share maps and our interpretations online.

Authors: D. Alessio and A. Allstadt, Last Updated: 11/09/2016

PROJECTED CHANGES IN SPRING PLANT PHENOLOGY

The old saying "timing is everything" is as true in natural systems as it is in our daily lives. Wildlife reproduction, survival and movements are tied to seasonal changes in food and habitat availability. North America is experiencing rapid changes in climate causing earlier onset of spring and later onset of winter that, in turn, is changing the timing and availability of important resources for wildlife.

Authors: A. Allstadt, Last Updated: 11/16/2016

IMPROVING MANAGEMENT THROUGH GEOSPATIAL CAPACITY

Nearly all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff work with spatial data in one form or another. Even if you're not technically savvy, geospatial data can expand your understanding and improve your decision making. Given the speed at which Geographic Information System (GIS) technology is changing, continued training can improve GIS capabilities for technical users and interpretation skills for those who use the end products.

Authors: D. Alessio and M. Balogh, Last Updated: 11/09/2016

A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON YOUR WORLD

Region 3 aerial photography is collected with the natural resource manager in mind. Spanning five decades, there is a wealth of information available in our archives. Check out the archive to see if there is photography that could be useful to your next planning or evaluation project.

Authors: M. Mitchell, Last Updated: 11/02/2016

TRAINING AND GUIDELINES FOR BANDERS AND STATIONS

Monitoring waterfowl populations on refuge and other public lands has long been a priority of the Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners. Because these efforts often include banding waterfowl, biologists with FWS and partner organizations need resources, materials, and guidelines to train waterfowl banders. Midwest Region biologists have developed a 3 day waterfowl banding workshop, which can be scheduled at your refuge, and course materials are available online for informal review.

Authors: K. Carlyle, Last Updated: 11/02/2016

A RAPID ASSESSMENT OF FOREST ECOLOGICAL STATUS

What is the dominant tree species in the forests on your service lands? How common are invasive species? Is deer browse causing problems? A Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) protocol has been developed to answer these questions and more, and track changes in conditions in space and time. The REA has already been conducted on six refuges and the protocol is available for interested stations.

Authors: J. Booker, Last Updated: 11/02/2016

THE VISUALIZATION OF LAND AND WATER SURFACES

How much water is in my field station's impoundments? Where will flood flows cross levees and roads? How large is the watershed that feeds into my station? What is the appropriate size and location of ditch plugs, spillways, or dikes? Water Resource Mapping combines land and water data to visualize hydrologic patterns and answer key management questions.

Authors: V. Capeder, Last Updated: 10/20/2016

ARCHIVE VALUABLE RECORDS IN SERVCAT

The history of the National Wildlife Refuge System is documented in thousands of plans, maps, photos, and reports, many of which are one-of-a-kind "treasures," housed at field stations and can't be replaced. We now have a secure, digital archive for these valuable records, but they need to be scanned, uploaded, and cataloged so others can find them now and in the future.

Authors: M. Knutson, Last Updated: 10/20/2016

The fate of the migrating population of monarch butterflies depends on having enough of the right habitat in the right places. A group of researchers and land managers are working together to learn what monarchs are using now and where habitat is lacking so we can better target monarch conservation efforts.

Authors: P. Drobney, Last Updated: 10/20/2016

Learning how to consistently plant a diverse prairie that establishes quickly, has minimal weed pressure, and remains in good condition is not about following the “right” formula. Instead, it is about sharing the results of many methods, conditions, and patterns in order to quickly learn the most effective and efficient processes. This is the goal of the Prairie Reconstruction Initiative.

Authors: P. Drobney, A. McColpin, M. Knutson, Last Updated: 10/13/2016

The high profile decline of honeybees has raised awareness about the importance of all pollinators in both agricultural and natural systems. National wildlife refuges provide islands of natural habitat in a sea of agriculture, but the role of these wildlife habitats in sustaining pollinator diversity is poorly known.

Authors: B. Loges, W. Watkins, M. Knutson, Last updated: 10/13/2016

THE ROLE OF LAND AND WATER SURFACE ELEVATIONS IN REFUGE MANAGEMENT

Have you ever wondered if your auto tour road is high enough to survive that next big flood event? Or the exact elevation of that staff gage? Or what size and how many acre/feet of water are in that impoundment? Elevation surveys inform many refuge management decisions, such as infrastructure placement and sizing, habitat restoration, water movement, monitoring, water level management, flood risk assessments and more.

Authors: V. Capeder, Last updated: 10/5/2016

Hydrogeomorphic (HGM) evaluations provide an analysis of historic and contemporary abiotic and biotic information at scales ranging from specific National Wildlife Refuge System lands to large contiguous watersheds and floodplains. These reports help field stations determine where different habitat types will be most successful, and which management or restoration actions are necessary to sustain those habitats. Learn more...

Authors: J. Eash, Last updated: 10/5/2016

PROTECTING WILDERNESS CHARACTER THROUGH MONITORING

Wilderness is a uniquely American concept. Many of us value wilderness because it provides opportunities for solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants, and is required, to protect, its wilderness resources by preserving their wilderness character. Wilderness Character Monitoring reports help us reach these goals. Learn more...

Authors: P. Heglund and N. Roeper, Last updated: 10/5/2016

Managers make decisions every day: many small, some big and complicated. For these complex decisions, a decision framework can help define the problem, articulate your goals, generate novel and creative solutions, and compare costs/benefits. In addition to the classes offered at NCTC, we can now offer a 2-day decision analysis short course within the region. We include an example of the process in action, helping conserve tern populations. Learn more...

Authors: E. Dunton, W. Ford, et al., Last updated: 9/29/2016

Managers have new opportunities to review past fire history, track current fire management, and help them plan for the future. The Fire Atlas program is using satellite imagery to provide previously unavailable historical fire information, and the Fire Management Information System is designed to track current day fire activity on our lands. Learn more...


Authors: P. Charland and P. Heglund, Last updated: 9/29/2016

Breeding habitats have historically been the focus of waterbird conservation, but a full life cycle approach must also account for the quality and availability of migration and wintering habitats. The Integrated Waterbird Management and Monitoring (IWMM) project was designed to help ensure that non-breeding waterbirds have the right habitat, in the right place, at the right time. Monitoring and modeling tools are available to inform management. Learn more...

Authors: B. Loges, Last updated: 9/29/2016

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR WATER LEVEL DATA

Ah, the staff gage, standing guard over wetland water levels. They are the most common water monitoring activity conducted across National Wildlife Refuge System and are maintained by 75% of all Region 3 field stations. Although important to water level management, they are often underutilized. By collecting some additional data and employing some new techniques, field stations can greatly improve the effectiveness and utility of these submerged sentries. Learn more...

Authors: J. Eash, Last updated: 9/21/2016

WE NEED MORE THAN COMMON SENSE TO SAVE ALL THE "COGS AND WHEELS" OF BIODIVERSITY IN OUR NATIVE PRAIRIE REMNANTS

Native unplowed prairie remnants are the last vestiges of a vast grassland ecosystem that once dominated much of North America. Native prairies are hotspots of biodiversity, but many are in poor condition due to non-native invasive plants. Two projects are focused on better management of our prairies, monitoring the effects of our management, and dealing with non-native plants. Learn more...

Authors: M. Knutson, Last updated: 9/21/2016

OUR STRUGGLES WITH AN AGGRESSIVE GRASS

Reed canarygrass invades and dominates many floodplain forests and wetlands in many conservation areas. We designed an adaptive management project to identify effective control strategies in both floodplain forests and wet meadows. Lessons were learned on reed canarygrass and adaptive management projects in general. Learn more...

Authors: K. Carlyle and M. Knutson, Last updated: 9/14/2016

The PRIMR database documents historical, on-going, and new natural resource surveys for stations throughout the Refuge System. Maintaining your station's PRIMR record preserves the history of surveys conducted, the legacy of science at that station. PRIMR also captures the content to build or revise your Inventory and Monitoring Plan. Learn more...

Authors: J. Herner-Thogmartin, Last updated: 9/7/2016

THE UNTOLD STORY OF LAND AQUISITION WITHIN THE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE SYSTEM

Refuges face a variety of waterborne threats, but few are more pervasive than the steady accumulation of sediment within refuge waterbodies. Land is piling up in the National Wildlife Refuge System-in some refuges at the rate of 20,000 tons of waterborne sediment per year. This unwelcome acquisition chokes wetlands, hampers management, and smothers wetland productivity. A solid understanding of the source, rate, and extent of sedimentation drives effective responses to this complex issue. Learn more...

Authors: J. Eash, Last updated: 9/14/2016

SHOULD WE BE WORRIED?

Water levels throughout the Midwest are threatened. The dramatic impact to our water resources are starting to hit mainstream media.

It is important that field stations understand and protect their rights to adequate supplies of clean water now and into the future. Learn more...

Authors: J. Grueztman, Last updated: 9/7/2016

Navigation locks, dams, and flood protection levees have negatively impacted wetland habitats adjacent to the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. Restoring biological integrity to these habitats is often dependent on manipulating water levels to gain a respite from this altered hydrology. Learn more...

Author: B. Loges, Last updated: 8/30/2016

WE GET IN THE WATER, SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO!

Water is the driving force behind the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But we cannot effectively conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plant habitat without understanding the basic hydrologic processes that underpin them. Learn how our hydrology team is helping to support Service habitat management and decision making processes, and how we can help you! Learn more...

Authors: J. Grueztman and D. MacDonald, Last updated: 9/7/2016

DON'T GUESS, LEARN FROM YOUR ACTIONS AND IMPROVE YOUR EFFECTIVENESS

Are we getting the most bang for our buck when managing invasive plants on refuge lands? The Forest Invasives Adaptive Management (FIAM) project was developed to document the refuge's invasive plant distribution and treatment effectiveness. This 10-step process walks managers and biologists through data collection, data analysis, decision support, effectiveness monitoring, and evaluation. Learn more...

Author: J. Booker, Last updated: 8/30/2016

TESTING THE EFFICACY OF REMOVING SEDIMENT FIRST

Small wetlands add biodiversity to the agricultural landscape and support nesting ducks. But, thick stands of cattails and grass can reduce biodiversity and preclude waterfowl nesting. Can new restoration methods reduce these invasive species problems? A long term project from the Minnesota's Private Lands Program and the FWS Wetland Management Districts aims to find out.
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Author: M. Knutson, Last updated: 8/31/2016

RECORD YOUR SIGHTINGS ON THE NATIONAL PHENOLOGY NETWORK

Observing and documenting seasonal changes in plants and animal activities is an excellent way to get in touch with nature; this was a favorite activity of some of our most respected ecologists, including Aldo Leopold. Phenological mismatches may threaten populations and sometimes require management action. Refuges can use the USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) to support citizen science and better understand how phenology on our refuges and how it may be changing. Learn more...

Author: M. Knutson, Last updated: 8/30/2016

DON'T LEAVE YOUR MARSHBIRD AND LANDBIRD DATA IN LIMBO

Prothonotary Warbler

Legacy marshbird and landbird data were moved from U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) databases to the Avian Knowledge Network (AKN). If your station has legacy data in those databases, we need to help you review, move, and share it appropriately. We can also help you store data for new monitoring projects. Learn more...

Author: M. Knutson, Last updated: 8/23/2016

A STRONG BIOLOGICAL PROGRAM IS AN INVESTMENT IN SUCCESSFUL REFUGE MANAGEMENT

Great Horned Owl

Managing a refuge without a strong biological program is like driving your car in the dark with no headlights. You move forward, but don't know your path or the hazards ahead. A good biological program illuminates management and can fuel your decision-making with science and careful observation. The "Building a Strong Biological Program" course can help biologists and project leaders develop a program that supports the station's needs. Learn more...

Author: P. Drobney, Last updated: 8/23/2016

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO LEARN IN A NATURAL RESOURCES SETTING, AND WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

Learning in the field

Learning in a natural resources setting can be difficult due to long-delayed feedback and the need to make sense of our shared experiences. If we are not at the top of our management game, learning as fast as we can, many species and natural communities will suffer because we failed to learn. Learn more...

Author: M. Knutson, Last updated: 8/23/2016