Resource Management

Resource Management at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge

The refuge contains 15,000 acres of bottomland hardwood forest, 3,500 acres of marsh and water, 1,300 acres of upland hardwoods, 1,200 acres of cropland and moist soil units, and 500 acres of grassland and early successional forest habitat. This part of southeast Missouri was once a sprawling 2.5 million acres of bottomland hardwood forests. Bottomland hardwood forests are deciduous forested wetlands that include species of gum, oak, and bald cypress. These trees are able to survive in areas that are either seasonally flooded or under water much of the year.

  • Forest Management

    Oak Seedlings at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge

    Forest management at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge focuses on restoring bottomland hardwood habitats. Bottomland hardwood areas are important habitat for a variety of plants and animals, store and convey food waters, recharge groundwater supplies, and sequester carbon and nitrogen.

    Forest management tools include research, timber management activities, planting, and manipulating water levels.

  • Water Management

    Water Control Structure

    Refuge staff manipulate water levels in five green tree reservoirs and two open marsh impoundments. Green tree reservoirs are forested areas that are shallowly flooded seasonally to provide feeding habitat for birds that rely on acorns and invertebrates under water. Impoundments are open marsh areas that can be drained and flooded seasonally to produce habitat during migration.

    Nearly 60 miles of ditches and over 57 water control structures form a drainage network that moves 45 billion gallons (137,740 acre feet) of water annually onto, around, and off the refuge. These ditches hold water year-round and often provide refuge for fish species during low water periods. Actions to improve water transport throughout the ditch network reduce flood duration and improve bottomland forest dynamics, helping meet the refuge purpose of providing habitat for migratory birds.

  • Moist Soil Management

    Moist Soil Unit

    Twenty-one moist soil units totaling 800 acres are managed to produce food for migrating waterfowl, rails, and shorebirds. Moist soil units are former farm fields developed to impound water through construction of dikes and water control structures. Moist soil management entails manipulating water levels to encourage growth of plants occurring naturally in the seed bank. The plants produce seeds that are high energy food for migrating waterfowl.

    Flooding of the moist soil units typically begin in October or November, depending on migration, and proceeds in stages. Initially, one-third of each unit is flooded. Once waterfowl deplete the food supply an additional one-third is flooded, and finally the units are entirely flooded. Progressive flooding concentrates feeding waterfowl to fully utilize moist soil foods. From February through April, waterfowl feed on invertebrates found in the units.

    Drawdowns of moist soil units begin in stages to expose mud flats to attract migrating shorebirds which feed on the available invertebrates. The timing of drawdowns also affects the germination of desirable moist soil vegetation to produce food for the following year.

    Moist soil units are maintained to limit tree encroachment and other undesirable plant growth. These areas are managed by periodic farming, mowing, disking, herbicides, and water level manipulation.

  • Farming

    Farming at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge

    Food crops such as corn, milo, winter wheat, or soybeans are planted each year on approximately 300 acres or 1 percent of refuge lands. Cooperative farming is conducted under the terms and conditions of a Cooperative Farming Agreement. Under the Cooperative Farming Program, all or a portion (typically 25-33%) of each crop is left as food for wildlife. An additional 95 acres of food plots are maintained by refuge staff, Mingo Swamp Friends, and volunteers.

    Farming is used as a low cost means to maintain open habitats and reduce the amount of undesirable herbaceous and woody vegetation within moist soil management units and grassy openings. On some sites it is used to provide supplemental food for wildlife and is especially important for resident species during severe winters. The refuge encourages no-till farming and restricts pesticide and herbicide usage. Farming may also occur if parcels containing currently farmed land are purchased as additions to the refuge. Over the long term, the amount of farmed refuge lands will decrease as permanent native habitat is established in these areas.

  • Trapping Occurs on this Refuge

    trapping photo

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