Resource Management

Resource Management

Stone Lakes NWR staff, along with many partners, spend many hours in the field working for the resource and improving the quality and health of wildlife habitats. Below are some of the resource management techniques used at the refuge:

  • Wildlife Monitoring


    Wildlife monitoring occurs throughout the year with the additional help of many volunteers and refuge partners.  Nest box monitoring, bird-banding, wetland surveys, Sandhill crane leg band counts, and vegetation surveys are regular programs, building our wealth of data and knowledge of changes and trends with the wildlife and associated habitats over time. Through these programs the information collected enables the refuge to make informed habitat and wildlife based decisions each year and analyze past and future trends.

  • Managed Wetlands

    Dozing Cattails

    Our wetland habitat enhancement efforts, in cooperation with private, state, and other federal partners, have yielded more than 566 acres of improved wetlands on five properties within the refuge boundary. Our wildlife monitoring shows a strong, positive response by wildlife, with increases in both the varieties and numbers of birds, other wildlife, and native plants. Historically an area that once supported an abundance of wetlands teeming with wildlife, the refuge now manages the restored wetlands with water control structures, pumps, and vegetation control. This water manipulation allows the refuge to monitor and target specific plant and bird species through flood-up, rotation, depth, and drawdown in fall through early spring. Throughout the summer, most of the managed wetlands are dry to help prevent vegetation overgrowth and mosquito control.

  • Habitat Restoration

    Habitat Restoration

    An important backbone to any sucessful wildlife refuge is restoring and maintaining healthy habitat for the wildlife. Habitat is the home for wildlife, providing food, shelter, water and space. Without proper healthy habitat, many of the wildlife species including birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects would disappear, further disrupting the web of life. Restoring habitat is a time consuming process, and thanks to many of our partners, school groups and volunteers, it is being restored on many areas within the refuge boundary.

  • Invasive Species Control

    Spraying Water Hyacinth

    With the introduction of numerous exotics and the mild Mediterranean climate in the Central Valley, the refuge spends a large portion of time maintaining the quality of wildlife habitat though invasive species control.  Some of the refuges biggest at this time are water hyacinth, yellow star thistle, perennial pepperweed, barbed goatgrass, stinkwort, bristly oxtongue, medusahead grass, and shortpod mustard.  These exotics can be expensive and time consuming to control, so the refuge uses many management techniques such as mowing, herbicide spraying, disking, grazing, and prescribed burning.  Controlling these invasive species is critical to providing a healthy habitat for residential and migratory wildlife.

  • Grazing

    Rancher Moving Cattle

    The refuge has initiated a grazing program using cattle to reduce fire danger, encourage native grasses, and improve foraging conditions for residential and migratory grassland birds, such as sandhill cranes, burrowing owls, western meadowlarks, long-billed curlew, swainson's hawks, geese, and various waterfowl on the North Stone Lake property. Grazed grasslands also open up the habitat for raptors and snakes in search of small rodents, as well as create potential burrowing owl sites. As open land and grassland habitat disappear at alarming rates in the Central Valley, these lands will become increasingly invaluable for many of these species in jeopardy of declining populations.

  • Agriculture


    Many wildlife species can coexist with some farming practices, particulary species that enjoy grain crops such as geese and sandhill cranes. Hawks, owls, and coyotes also use the fields in search of rodents, as well as many species of snakes and mammals. Currently the refuge uses a winter wheat cover crop on part of the land to provide this additional food source for migratory species. The crops also create a monoculture and help prevent an invasive seedbank to develop on the land, such as star thistle and pepperweed.

  • Prescribed Burns

    Prescribed Fire

    Fire is an integral part of the natural process of restoring healthy land and has been used for thousands of years by the Native Americans here in the Central Valley. Fire reduces the dry matter (fuel load) of an area creating a safer environment for the following year and the burned debris immediately puts available nutrients back into the soil. The available nutrients then produce higher quality plants in the burned area, which in turn creates a higher quality habitat for the wildlife. Controlled burns also are used as a means to reduce non-desired plants, encourage local native plants that are adapted to the fire regime, and provide fire breaks during the dry summer.

    Burning for Wildlife 1.42 MB pdf