Resource Management

Left: herbicide spraying - USFWS. Right: fire management - USFWS.

Blackwater’s vital resources have attracted wildlife and people for thousands of years. Today, the staff and volunteers at Blackwater manage and sustain habitats and wildlife, while Blackwater continually undergoes change.

  • Marsh Management

    The overarching purpose of marsh management is to develop and promote strategies for tidal marsh adaptation to sea level rise. Blackwater NWR is a Refuge at risk. Since the 1930s, over 8,000 acres of marsh have been lost at Blackwater. That’s a rate of 150 acres lost per year. Causes of marsh loss include Sea Level Rise, Erosion, Subsidence, Salt Water Intrusion and Invasive Species. The marsh’s natural ability to build elevation cannot keep up with sea level rise.

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  • Invasive Species Management

    Invasive species are organisms or plants that have been introduced into a new environment, where they are not native. Invasive species are capable of causing extinctions of native plants and animals, reducing biodiversity, competing with native organisms for limited resources, and altering habitats.

    One of the most important management goals at Blackwater NWR is to maintain a healthy and diverse ecosystem with a full range of native plants and animals to pass on to future generations. To do so, management has identified the top invasive species and a plan to slow or contain their spread: nutria, resident Canada geese, mute swans, gypsy moths, phragmites and sika deer.

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  • Crop Management

    Due to wetland loss and degradation, natural food resources are inadequate to increase or even sustain the current levels of waterfowl use on Blackwater NWR. Furthermore, very few “hot foods” (high carbohydrate and energy foods like corn and sorghum) are available off-refuge; those that are available are consumed quickly. When birds have to travel long distances to seek food off the refuge in severe winter weather, they lose their energy reserves quickly. Therefore, Blackwater plants row crops and cool-season grasses, or forbs, each year, to nourish wintering migratory waterfowl during critical periods of stress.

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  • Forest Management

    The primary objective of forest management at Blackwater NWR is to develop, manage, and perpetuate the diversity of the indigenous wildlife populations.

    Blackwater foresters meet these goals by accomplishing the following:

    - Increasing forest core sizes through land acquisition and reforestation.
    - Providing habitat for “forest interior dwelling birds” (FIDS) and other neo-tropical migrants.
    - Improving forest health using timber stand improvement treatments.
    - Providing habitat and protection for those species of plants and animals indigenous to the refuge that are officially listed by the Service or State as being threatened or endangered, such as the Delmarva Fox Squirrel.
    - Monitoring saltwater intrusion.
    - Providing compatible opportunities for wildlife-oriented recreation and environmental education.

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  • Fire Management

    Man-made fires have a long history in this region. They occurred, for various reasons, long before the refuge was established and they continue to this day. Fire was used by Native Americans to improve wildlife habitat for hunting and land clearing. During colonial times, fire was utilized for agriculture and grazing land management. Prior to Federal acquisition, marsh burning was conducted to benefit muskrat trapping operations.

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  • Trapping Occurs on this Refuge.

    Trapping is a wildlife management tool used on some national wildlife refuges. Trapping may be used to protect endangered and threatened species or migratory birds or to control certain wildlife populations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also views trapping as a legitimate recreational and economic activity when there are harvestable surpluses of fur-bearing mammals. Outside of Alaska, refuges that permit trapping as a recreational use may require trappers to obtain a refuge special use permit. Signs are posted on refuges where trapping occurs. Contact the refuge manager for specific regulations. Click here for more information.