Resource Management

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To help plants and wildlife, refuge staff uses a variety of habitat management techniques to maintain, recover or enhance plant and wildlife values. Refuge staff carefully considers any management techniques and employs them in varying degrees according to the situation.


There are three primary active management strategies employed by the Key West NWR to maintain, restore, and enhance the natural diversity and integrity of habitats for native plants and animals of the Florida Keys. These management strategies include: habitat management, education and outreach, and law enforcement.

Habitat Management-

Removing exotics

Exotic plant management is an ongoing activity. The control or prevention of invasive plants that otherwise would take over valuable habitat areas is vital to the survival and existence of native plant and wildlife species.

Along with the vegetation removal strategies, the Refuges monitor native species with special emphasis on threatened and endangered species. As part of the monitoring strategy, the Refuges document changes in species composition over time in response to our management actions, as well as natural disturbances (e.g. hurricanes, flooding), and climate change.

Education and outreach

Education and outreach through visitor services is one of the most powerful management tools our Refuges have for meeting our mission. Working with visitors and residents, including school groups, community groups or individuals who come into our visitor center, the Refuges take the opportunity to educate and inform a little about the work being done at the Refuges. This education has led to a strong volunteer base in our communities. These volunteers continue the work on and off the Refuges and are vital for the mission of the Refuges.

Law Enforcement

Refuge law enforcement is an instrumental management tool in making sure that the islands remain pristine and that visitors to the Refuges respect the rules that protect wildlife on all Refuge lands.