Situated in the flood plain between two major rivers, resource management activities are primarily focused on providing high quality habitat for migratory birds associated with wetland habitats. Low-level dikes, water control structures, and pumps are used to mimic natural wet and dry conditions, which in turn provide food, cover, and protection to birds during their semi-annual migrations.
Other activities include planting native trees to restore flood plain forests, using prescribed fire for enhancing native grasslands, row-cropping to provide open space and supplemental food for wildlife, and regulating public uses to provide sanctuary for migratory birds.
During the summer of 2012 refuge biologists were able to complete a water level drawdown in Swan Lake (a wetland management area of the refuge). To complete a drawdown water is removed from a wetland area during the summer season to allow the sediment at the bottom to settle and seeds to sprout. Throughout the summer wetland plants are better able to grow because they have more access to sunlight. This technique mimics natural wet and dry conditions in a wetland and had not been used in many years due to flooding.
With little rain in 2012 the water level in the lake was much easier to manage and provided ideal growing conditions. Although there was little rain the naturally moist soil in the lake allowed native plants to flourish. A report was completed by refuge biologists and researchers from the University of Tennessee to determine the amount of seed and habitat provided by Swan Lake. The biologists concluded that 3,000 lbs of seed was produced per acre. Typically wetlands similar to Swan Lake produce about half that amount. Scientists can use the amount of seed to predict how many days a certain number of waterfowl could use the lake. They concluded that 164,120 ducks could use the lake for 110 days.
Click here to read the study.
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These white birds are one of the largest birds in North America. At Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge you'll see flocks with black tipped wings flying in lines and soaring high into the air on thermals.