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Resource Management

CRP Flowers 712 x 480

Madison Wetland Management District sits at the western edge of the Tallgrass Prairie Region, the most threatened ecosystem in North America.  Because cultivation and land development have changed the landscape, District staff today use a variety of management tools to mimic natural processes.

  • Grazing

    150 x 118 Cows Grazing on WPA

    In the past, bison roamed the prairies in massive herds, eating and trampling grass and adding nutrients as they went. Today we use other grazers, primarily cattle, to manage our grasslands. When used properly, grazing is a useful tool for controlling exotics, reducing dead plant material, and increasing nutrient cycling to improve a stand of grass. Since we don't own our own livestock, special use permits are used with private landowners for a set time period and grazing rate. Landowners benefit by resting some of their pastures and we get improved nesting cover and habitat for wildlife. 

  • Upland Restoration

    150 x 118 Sturdevant seeding

    Some of the grasslands we manage are native prairie - they have never been plowed up and retain many native species. Other grasslands may have been plowed up and planted to crops or tame grasses for pasture or hay. These grasslands may have only one or two species of grass, few forbs, and may be infested by Canada thistle or other weeds. These areas are slated for restoration using native grass and flower species. The easiest way to accomplish this is to crop it for a few years to get a clean seed bed. Ten to fifty species are then planted and nurtured for the next few years. Though this is a far cry from native prairie, these areas do provide more diversity and structure for wildlife habitat.

    Although grasslands benefit from some type of management that removes the vegetation, doing it too much or too often is not a good thing. For this reason managers often use rest as a management tool. But as in all things, too much rest can also be detrimental to grassland habitats. Rest allows dead vegetation to build up on the soil effectively shading and cooling it. This will smother some native plants as well as make conditions better for non-native invasive species like smooth brome or Kentucky bluegrass.

  • Wetland Restoration

    RW 150 x 118

    Restoration of the hydrology involves restoring drained wetlands and natural runoff, reducing siltation and erosion, and re-establishing native vegetation. The Service's objective goes beyond refuge lands. It includes providing assistance to private landowners who wish to restore or enhance their lands for the benefit of wildlife and natural resources. This assistance is provided through the Partners For Fish and Wildlife Program.

  • Prescribed Burning

    150 x 118 Fire

    Prescribed burning is used to remove old vegetative growth, release nutrients back to the soil, decrease woody and other invasive and undesirable plant species, increase warm season grasses and forbs, and reduce the amount of organic matter (litter) on the soil surface.

    Most burns occur during the months of April, May, and June. Upland burns at this time set back invading cool season plants, such as smooth brome and kentucky bluegrass.

Last Updated: Jun 05, 2014
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