Resource Management


Wintering waterfowl benefit from Refuge management activities.

  • Forest Management

    Logging - Promo List - 150 x 118

    The majority of the existing Refuge forests are in a closed or nearly-closed canopy condition, which generally limits habitat diversity. In other words, the canopy has shaded out the forest floor which does not allow for plants to grow in the understory. Forest management is the most effective and efficient management tool for improving quality wildlife habitat by increasing cover, browse and nesting structure in the understory. Before management decisions are made, an inventory of forest stands is conducted to evaluate the current habitat conditions and determine which areas need to be treated or thinned. The areas selected are designated and all trees to be thinned are marked with blue paint. A logging operation will take place to remove the trees that are marked. This is conducted under the direct supervision of the Refuge Forester. The treatments are a combination of single-tree selection, group selection, and patchcuts. The objective of the thinnings is to reduce canopy closure which will allow sunlight penetration to the forest floor and increase production of vegetation, including the regeneration of oaks, on the ground layer. This provides excellent food and cover for many wildlife species.

  • Fire Management


    Prescribed burning is conducted on the refuge to mimic historical, natural wildfire that Pine Flatwood forests experienced. Fire sets back woody succession and promotes an herbaceous and grassy understory. This habitat type is used by the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and without prescribed burning, the habitat would become unsuitable for these birds. Prescribed fire is conducted under rigorous policy guidelines that includes annual training, physical fitness testing and review of burn prescriptions at the Regional level. Burning is always conducted according to weather, safety and personnel thresholds specified in each prescription. Prescribed fire is an excellent tool to meet habitat objectives for wildlife.

  • Reforestation


    The Mollicy Unit is the largest contiguous bottomland hardwood reforestation project in the country. Over 13,000 acres of bottomland hardwood tree seedlings have been planted on the refuge. Native bottomland hardwood trees are planted in areas where the forest was cleared before the refuge was acquired. Up to twenty different bottomland hardwood tree species have been planted to ensure habitat diversity. Areas were hand-planted or machined-planted using tree seedlings. Firebreaks are also established in and around the perimeters of the reforested areas to help prevent wildfires..

  • Hydrological Restoration


    The Mollicy Unit is also the largest hydrological restoration project in the country. Before the Mollicy Unit of Upper Ouachita NWR was purchased, the land had been cleared of trees and a 30-foot high, 16-mile long ring levee had been built in an attempt to keep the Ouachita River from flooding the area so it could be farmed. After reforestation was largely completed, the Service in partnership with the Nature Conservancy, breached the levee in several strategic locations to allow the Ouachita River to once again be connected to its floodplain. Now when the river rises it floods the Mollicy Unit as it would have before the levee was built. Water quality has been greatly improved. Fish are able to spawn during the spring and seeds are being dispersed. Another benefit of this restoration project was the vast flood storage made available which benefits the cities of Sterlington and Monroe downstream. The Nature Conservancy and the USFWS have worked together to re-connect some of the smaller bayous and drainages within the Mollicy Unit to the river that had been degraded or completely filled in during former farming practices.

  • Invasive Species Management


    Feral hogs have become a major issue on most lands in the Southeast. Not native to the United States, these animals are destructive invaders who out-compete native wildlife species, such as deer, turkeys and squirrels, for plant and animal food resources. They "till" up the ground by rooting for food and disturb native plant communities. Because of their tendencies to wallow and root in wet areas and along bodies of water, they also have negative impacts on water quality and wetlands and can impair tree regeneration. Additionally, feral hogs carry diseases that are communicable to humans and other domestic and wild animals. These diseases include brucellosis and pseudo-rabies.

    Although the refuge conducts control activities, these animals have extremely high reproductive rates. Females reach sexual maturity as early as 6 months and have 2 litters each year of approximately 10 piglets. In the Southeast, where large predators like cougars and wolves are now mostly gone, pigs are not very vulnerable to predation once they reach about 40 pounds. Due to all of these factors, hog populations are extremely hard to control once they become established.

    Exotic plants are a threat to native vegetation and the biological integrity of an ecosystem. Invaders such as Chinese tallowtree, Chinese privet, Japanese climbing fern, hyacinth, and giant salvinia can complete outcompete native vegetation becoming a monoculture. Refuge staff spend much time chemically treating Japanese climbing fern, wisteria and Chinese tallowtree on Upper Ouachita NWR.

  • Trapping Occurs on this Refuge

    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 on trapping within the National Wildlife Refuge System.