Skip Navigation

Resource Management

Bucks n Ducks 800x328Refuges strive for biological integrity, diversity and environmental health. Much of the management work of refuges is to maintain, enhance or restore intact and self-sustaining habitats and wildlife populations that existed during historic conditions.

During the spring and summer, water is removed from the shallows of several impoundments to allow for the germination of natural wetland plants. After the plants have matured and produced an abundance of seeds, the impoundments are flooded. Waterfowl and other marsh birds feast upon these natural seed sources. Drawdowns in the moist soil areas also produce mud-flats that nourish shorebirds during their spring and fall migrations.

Select refuge lands are offered to local farmers under the cooperative farming program. In exchange for a share of the crop, local farmers cultivate and plant the refuge’s fertile lands to produce corn, milo, and winter wheat for waterfowl. The refuge’s share is left unharvested in the field. Flooded agricultural fields of unharvested crops draw ducks and geese onto the refuge where they are able to feed and rest. Healthy, well-nourished ducks and geese depart the refuge in early spring.

The refuge’s forest management plan emphasizes improved habitat for forest nesting birds. During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s vast expanses of mature trees were clear cut to fuel the industrial revolution. The impacts of massive forest clearing, and increased control of wildfires greatly influenced the present condition of the forest. The end result is a forest with trees of similar age, with poorly developed crowns, and in a stagnant stage of growth.  

The forest’s condition has impacted many bird species by reducing suitable nesting and foraging habitat. In an effort to restore more natural forest conditions, a forest management plan has been developed and measures taken to carefully alter the forest structure. Using very selective harvest techniques, the forest has been thinned to reduce overcrowded trees, and to allow the remaining trees to grow larger. Openings in the canopy allow vegetation on the forest floor to become denser. This type of forest management improves habitat for birds and many other species of wildlife.   

Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge supports wood duck reproduction success with an active wood duck nest box program. Large numbers of “woodies” can be found in refuge wetlands, nesting in artificial nest boxes, and in natural tree cavities.  

Last Updated: Dec 01, 2015
Return to main navigation