Resource Management

Water Management 

Because Lake Ophelia NWR was established for wintering waterfowl, and because it is within the floodplain of the Mississippi River, water management is the most important management tool for the refuge’s resources.  Water levels are actively managed on nearly 1,500 acres of refuge impoundments or shallow water pools. Levels are managed to provide a variety of wetland conditions to produce plants for ducks, mudflat for shorebirds, and shallow water for wading birds. By raising and lowering water levels throughout the year, refuge staff has the ability to simulate natural and dynamic wetland cycles. 

Cooperative Farming 

Lake Ophelia NWR has an active cooperative farming program for the primary purpose of providing food and other needed habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife.  Through a cooperative farm agreement, the farmer utilizes a portion of the refuge to plant crops and leaves or plants unharvested grain crops for refuge wildlife as rent.  Utilizing the farmer to manage early succession habitat and provide high energy foods for ducks and geese, this program allows the refuge to fulfill its purpose efficiently and successfully.

Deer Harvest Management 

Deer hunting is a significant public use on Lake Ophelia NWR but is also used to manage the deer herd and as a result provide healthy habitat.  Deer populations should be reduced to under carrying capacity or at a density that the habitat can support.  Removing a portion of the herd annually with the appropriate age structure and sex ratios should result in a healthy herd.