Resource Management

Sunflowers at water edge

Refuge managers and wildlife biologists depend upon and utilize various tools to manage the Bitter Lake  National Wildlife Refuge for the benefit of wildlife.

Water manipulation is another important management tool utilized at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge.  Impoundments are flooded to provide overwintering ducks and shorebirds with necessary food and habitat. For the most part, manageable refuge lakes are filled to capacity during the fall and winter to provide roosting and feeding areas for migratory waterfowl. Many of the lakes are left low during hot summer months when evaporation is highest. Exposing mudflats during spring, summer, and early fall provides some of the most important feeding area in the state for shorebirds which require these shallow areas to forage. The salt flats exposed during spring and summer also provide an important nesting area for snowy plovers, avocets, and least terns.  Wetlands are occasionally flooded for short periods to irrigate vegetation and provide a supply of food available for migratory birds as they arrive in the fall.

Invasive Plants
Native trees such as willows and cottonwoods are scarce on the landscape these days. Salt Cedar, once used to stop erosion, has invaded many areas on the refuge. Refuge staff use mechanical methods to remove this exotic plant while efforts to replant the native willows and cottonwoods are underway.  

Fire management is an important tool in the control of exotic and invasive plant species. Controlled burns help rejuvenate the native vegetation and control some exotic plant species.