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A great deal of monitoring is done annually at the refuge to evaluate our management of refuge habitats. Trained volunteers play an integral role in the refuge biological program assisting staff with numerous wildlife population and habitat surveys. 


Refuge Vision  
We are committed to a culture of scientific excellence, adhering to the highest standards of integrity and transparency, and are viewed as valued contributors to the broader scientific community.
This commitment is exemplified by applying relevant science to all aspects of refuge management and developing new methods of utilizing science to build conservation models, set habitat and population objectives, strategically plan the growth of the Refuge System, design conservation delivery actions, and measure our success. 





 The Biological Program at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge

The overall goal of the refuge biological program is to provide management staff with the necessary information on ecology of native plants, animals and habitats of the Channeled Scablands to assure that both federal trust resources (threatened and endangered species and migratory birds) and the biodiversity of the refuge and the ecoregion is protected and maintained.

Specific objectives necessary to achieve this goal include;

1) Acquire information on the habitat needs of all refuge plant and wildlife species through review of the existing scientific literature and research conducted on the refuge

2) Identify individuals or groups of native plants and animals that are good indicators of the integrity and health of refuge habitats.

3) Develop management guidelines and habitat objectives to direct refuge activities (water management, forest and range management, grazing management etc.) necessary to restore, enhance and maintain habitat critical to refuge wildlife.

4) Determine the status of refuge habitats and wildlife populations and monitor them to assure refuge wildlife habitat goals and objectives are being met.

5) Provide information to the public on both the value of native plants and animals and the ecosystems of which they are members and how they can protect, maintain or enhance these values.


 Actions taken to meet these objectives are:

- Development of a comprehensive computerized database on the biology and habitat preferences of the 268 vertebrate species both known to utilize the refuge and those whose range encompasses the refuge but have yet to be found here.

- Development of management guidelines for major refuge habitats and wildlife species groups called guilds to assist with the development of goals, objectives and strategies for the refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Habitat Management Plan. Guilds of species are those that use similar habitats for breeding or feeding. An example is those species that breed in emergent vegetation in wetlands. A few members of this guild are redheads, ruddy ducks, marsh wrens, yellow headed black birds, American bitterns, muskrats. There are ten major guilds of species that use the refuge. Selection of indicator species, summary of breeding and feeding ecology, habitat needs and development of management guidelines have been completed for all guilds.

- Initiation of inventories and surveys to determine the status of refuge habitats and wildlife species to both guide the development of refuge objectives and management strategies and to measure their success. Specific research studies initiated on the refuge include:

• Mapping of refuge habitat types.
• Waterfowl nesting studies and population surveys
• Use of refuge forest by neotropical migratory landbirds.
• Survey of amphibian and reptile species
• Inventory of terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates
• Small mammal inventories and monitoring
• Inventory of trees and snags in refuge aspen and pine forest.
• Monitoring the effects of forest restoration strategies(prescribed fire, thinning, and tree harvest on wildlife habitats and populations
• Mapping and monitoring of populations of invasive plant species.
• Elk population and their impacts on aspen habitat.
• Inventory of refuge bat community and studies of their roosting requirements
 The biological program is directed by a full-time Wildlife Biologist. When funding and FTE allocations allow a seasonal biologist or technician is hired for 5-6 months to assist with annual monitoring and special projects. For the past 14 years, the biological staff has been augmented by the use of AmeriCorps members who spend 10.5 months on the refuge assisting with studies and monitoring. Several studies critical to meeting program objectives have been completed by faculty and students from Eastern Washington University. Additional support is provided by over 100 volunteers from the community. They contribute thousands of hours annually to the refuge biological program. These individuals are scouts, high school students, members of Friends of Turnbull and the local Audubon chapter, retired persons, and others with a keen interest in protecting their natural environment.