Resource Management

Prescribed Grazing 512x219

Originally, North Platte National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) included four Bureau of Reclamation irrigation reservoirs which were constructed between 1910 and 1917. Three of these are still part of the Refuge: Lake Minatare, Winters Creek, and Lake Alice. The Little Lake Alice reservoir was removed from the Refuge System in 1961. In 1990, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, by Memorandum of Agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation, also assumed management of Stateline Island, a 136-acre diversion project on the North Platte River.

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 management techniques and employs them in varying degrees according to the situation.

Water levels are carefully monitored and controlled to foster desired plant growth. Sometimes, sensitive areas are closed to the public so that the land can recover more quickly. Prescribed burning, mowing, experimental bio-control insect releases, and seeding are also some of the techniques used to help native plants recover on national wildlife refuges.

Standardized ground and aerial wildlife surveys and vegetation surveys are conducted on some refuges throughout the year to inventory populations and document habitat use. Units are evaluated by how well they are meeting habitat and wildlife use objectives.

Public involvement and input are important to us and to the planning process, and we hope you will take an active interest in the process, individually and as a community.

Much of the land that is now North Platte NWR had been over-grazed for decades. With the use of proper grazing methods, rest, and prescribed burning, the grasslands are slowly improving. 

Since the majority of the Refuge is an overlay on Bureau of Reclamation irrigation projects, water management is not always possible. Refuge water rights are junior to the primary purpose of these impoundments for irrigation. However, migrating waterfowl and other water birds use these waters extensively. The American Bird Conservancy designated Lake Minatare as a "globally significant" wintering area for waterfowl.

The Partners for Fish and Wildlife program is very active in the Panhandle of Nebraska. A full-time Private Lands Biologist works with private landowners to restore wetlands and develop grassland habitat for wildlife.