Resource Management

Wood ducks 512 W

Holla Bend NWR practices several different types of management techniques to provide optimum habitat for wintering waterfowl and resident wildlife, including bottomland hardwood forest, cropland management, and moist-soil management.

Bottomland hardwood forest is managed to provide invaluable habitat for a wide range of wildlife species. These forested wetlands are important to migratory and wintering waterfowl, particularly mallards and wood ducks. The refuge’s bottomland forest provides cover and crucial food resources such as hard mast, soft mast, and invertebrates for waterfowl during flood events in the fall, winter, and early spring.

Agricultural crops play an important role in the scheme of migratory bird management, as they provide a source of high-energy carbohydrates needed during periods of cold weather. Typically, refuges rotate crops and moist soils to ensure a readily available source of food for wildlife and to meet refuge objectives set forth in the Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan. The cropland operation on the refuge includes approximately 1,000 acres. This acreage varies from year to year, based on management needs. A portion of the crops are left standing in the fields and provide supplemental forage for resident and migratory wildlife, specifically migratory waterfowl.

Moist Soil wetlands historically occurred where openings existed in bottomland hardwoods. Forest openings were often caused by high winds, catastrophic floods, beavers, fires, etc. Man-made impoundments are commonly managed as moist-soil wetlands. Moist-soil areas are typified by seed producing annuals such as smartweed, wild millet, and sprangletop. Planting moist-soil areas is usually not necessary because native plant seeds are abundant in frequently flooded soils. Moist soil habitats are an integral part of managing public wetlands for waterfowl, as these food resources are provided in large part only on state and federal lands. Holla Bend manages from 200-300 acres of moist soil habitat to supply moist soil foods such as barnyard grass, sprangletop, smartweed, and a host of other beneficial herbaceous plants.