Resource Management

Invasive species control, water level management, farming, prescribed burning, and habitat restoration are just a few of the tools that the refuge uses to manage healthy, productive and diverse habitats for wildlife.

  • Invasive Species Control

    Mile-a-minute - USFWS.

    Non-native, invasive species threaten the biological diversity and value of all habitats at Eastern Neck NWR. Invasive species often out-compete native species because they lack natural ecological controls such as predators and disease. Phragmites and mile-a-minute (pictured left) are two examples of the more predominant invasive plant species found on Eastern Neck NWR. Other species include garlic mustard, Canada thistle, Japanese stilt grass, Johnson grass, and wineberry. The refuge uses a variety of methods to manage these invasive plant species, including herbicides, prescribed fire, mowing, and the introduction of natural predators. Animals can also be invasive. Mute swans are an example of an invasive wildlife species found on the refuge. Introduced from Europe and Asia, mute swans are aggressive birds which compete with native species for food and habitat.

  • Water Level Management

    Water Level Management

    The refuge manages water levels in impoundments to encourage the growth of certain plants which provide valuable food for migratory waterfowl. Additionally, manipulating water levels in five winter-flooded woodlands, or green tree reservoirs, allows wood ducks, black ducks and other species to forage for seeds and invertebrates in the leaf litter on the forest floor.

  • Farming


    The refuge manages approximately 550 acres of croplands to provide a high-energy food source for wintering Atlantic Population Canada geese, American black ducks, and other wintering and migratory waterfowl. This is accomplished through a cooperative farming program which uses best-management farming practices to prevent sediment, chemical, and nutrient runoff into the Bay. These practices include crop rotation, cover crops, no-till planting, utilization of grass waterways and field borders, and using nitrogen-fixing, weed-controlling crops to reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and herbicides.

  • Prescribed Burning

    Prescribed Fire

    Prescribed burning is a management tool used at Eastern Neck NWR to help control invasive species as well as manage grassland habitats. Burning removes dead plant matter and returns nutrients to the soil, encouraging new plant growth and species diversity.

  • Habitat Restoration

    Hail Cove - USFWS.

    Shoreline erosion and wetland loss threatens critical habitat at Eastern Neck NWR. Management activities to restore tidal marsh habitat include shoreline and shallow water habitat protection. Off-shore breakwaters and the use of clean dredge material have proven beneficial in restoring and protecting tidal marsh wetlands and submerged aquatic vegetation.

    Learn about the Hail Cove Restoration Project at Eastern Neck NWR. This video was created by the Center for Environment and Society at Washington College.