Resource Management

Waterfowl Nest

Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge uses a combination of different management activities to maintain and improve the marsh and tallgrass prairie habitats.

  • Prescribed Burns

    Prescribed Fire

    During both the spring and fall months, refuge crews conduct prescribed burns to achieve a number of habitat-related objectives. Managers set objectives for each unit, such as reducing plant cover, controlling exotic and woody plant species, cycling nutrients, controlling weeds, and restoring native prairie. Prescribed fire specialists set “prescriptions” for each burn, ensuring objectives are met in a controlled fashion. Additionally, prescribed burns help to protect our neighbors in the event of a wildfire by reducing hazardous fuel loads next to private property.

  • Mowing

    FWS Employee Driving Tractor

     Mowing, or haying, is another technique used to manage grassland areas. This technique is used to control non-native plants and woody vegetation. It also results in a mosaic of habitat heights, which attracts more diverse wildlife. Proper timing of mowing can remove seed heads from problem plants and open areas to light penetration for more desirable, native plant species. Frequent mowing is required on tallgrass prairie restoration projects during the first couple of years, until the native plants are established.

  • Water Manipulation

    Water Gauge

     Water manipulation at Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge is used as a management technique to provide appropriate habitat for various groups of birds, such as waterfowl, shorebirds and other water birds. Water depths are managed at planned levels by using multiple water control structures on the refuge. Providing a variety of water depths throughout the year provides critical food resources, brood cover, and loafing areas for the different life stages of wetland wildlife. Usually, water levels are held low during the winter months to control rough fish populations in the Slough. Occasionally, Union Slough is allowed to go almost completely dry; this is not a mistake, but a natural process that occurred historically on prairie wetlands.

  • Trapping Occurs on this Refuge

    Trapping sign

    Trapping is a wildlife management tool used on some national wildlife refuges. Trapping may be used to protect endangered and threatened species or migratory birds or to control certain wildlife populations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also views trapping as a legitimate recreational and economic activity when there are harvestable surpluses of fur-bearing mammals. Outside of Alaska, refuges that permit trapping as a recreational use may require trappers to obtain a refuge special use permit. Signs are posted on refuges where trapping occurs. Contact the refuge manager for specific regulations. Click here for more information.