Resource Management

Nesting Site at Litchfield Wetland Management District

To help plants and wildlife, district staff use a variety of habitat management techniques to maintain, recover or enhance plant and wildlife values. District staff carefully considers any management techniques and employ them in varying degrees according to the situation.

  • Wetland Restoration

    Wetland at Litchfield WMD

    Many of the waterfowl production areas purchased by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have drained or degraded wetlands on them. District staff often work with partners like Ducks Unlimited, Minnesota Waterfowl Association or Pheasants Forever to restore or enhance wetlands on the property to promote better waterfowl breeding habitat.

  • Water Level Management

    Ella Lake Outlet

    Several larger wetlands on our waterfowl production areas have water control structures, allowing managers to raise or lower water levels. Changing water levels also changes vegetation conditions, consolidates bottom sediments and excludes invasive fish. This can improve conditions for waterfowl feeding or nesting.

  • Grassland Restoration

    Grassland at Litchfield WMD

     Much of the district’s land has previously been farmed and is typically found in the condition of bare soil or in non-native grass such as brome. Once it is a waterfowl production area, we replant it with native prairie plants. When we do a restoration, we try to imitate the species that were present pre-settlement, to the best of our ability. We often collect native grass and wildflower seeds from another native or pre-restored unit, and then plant those seeds on the new restoration.

  • Tree Removal

    Tree Removal at Litchfield WMD

    By definition, prairie generally has less than 5%-10% trees. Historically, this area was devoid of most trees except the occasional oak savanna or cottonwoods and shorter brush along rivers, streams and draws. Prairie species evolved in this environment, and many species of grassland birds avoid nesting near trees since they serve as hunting perches for predatory birds. Our focus is to preserve prairie integrity, so we work hard to remove trees that are encroaching on our prairies.

  • Invasive Plant Control


    Keeping invasive plants out of our prairies is a never-ending battle. If left unchecked, they can take over an area and exclude native plant species. Tremendous effort goes into controlling invasive plants. We try to use the least intrusive control methods possible, including hand pulling, mowing, grazing or haying, or if necessary, chemical treatment with either spot spraying or broadcasting in larger areas. Chemical treatment must be done carefully, because it can harm native plants, too.

  • Prescribed Fire

    Prescribed Fire

    Fire is a natural part of the ecosystem and an integral part of what naturally formed and managed the prairie. Fire burns the built-up vegetation litter (called duff), and exposes the soil to air. Fire also recycles nutrients into the soil. Many native plants evolved with fire, and their seeds won’t germinate without the heat of fire or another disturbance. In present day, due to safety and potential damage to crops or residential infrastructure, natural fires are suppressed. Our fire staff plans and carries out safe, prescribed fires on our waterfowl production areas to simulate the natural processes. We generally burn waterfowl production areas on a 5-8 year rotation and see significant improvements in grassland cover, as well as a reduction in non-native plants.

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  • Biological Surveys


    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bases our management decisions on sound science. Therefore, we must conduct biological surveys and monitoring of our management actions to see if the results match the goals. We then adapt if needed. We conduct annual waterfowl, woodcock/breeding bird surveys and administer several on-going studies looking at the impacts of our resource management actions.

  • Easements

    Litchfield Staff talking with visitor

    In addition to managing federally owned land, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Litchfield Wetland Management District also have habitat easements. These are on privately-owned property, where the owner has sold certain rights to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Generally, the easements restrict the draining of wetlands or disturbance of grasslands. The easements function as a privately-held wildlife refuge where the landowner controls all other management, such as hunting and weed control. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does, at times, help with habitat improvement projects on easements. For more information on easements, download the brochure below:

    Prairie and Grassland Easement Brochure

  • Trapping Occurs on this Wetland Management District

    trapping photo

    Trapping is a wildlife management tool used on some national wildlife refuge system lands. 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, refuge system lands that permit trapping as a recreational use may require trappers to obtain a special use permit. Signs are posted on refuge lands where trapping occurs. Contact the district manager for specific regulations. Click here for more information.