Resource Management


Refuge staff depend upon and utilize various tools to manage the Washita National Wildlife Refuge.

Moist Soil Management:
Washita National Wildlife Refuge was established to provide a feeding and resting area for wintering and migrating waterfowl and sandhill cranes. The refuge manages approximately 85 acres of moist soil units to provide food and resting areas for ducks and geese. A moist soil unit is a shallow, man-made pond designed to be flooded in the wintertime and dry in the summer. Moist soil units are sometimes planted in millet or milo to provide food for waterfowl. Refuge staff actively manages the moist soil units, performing activities such as dike construction and maintenance, controlling invasive species, maintenance of water control structures, and pumping water into the units when needed.

Farming for Wildlife:
Washita National Wildlife Refuge provides a wintering place for hundreds of thousands of geese every year. These birds rest on Foss Lake at nighttime and travel to nearby farm fields to feed by day. The refuge plants about 2,000 acres of small grains, including wheat, rye, and triticale, for the geese to eat. Geese graze on the wheat while it is still green rather than eating the grain. Farming activities include cultivation, planting, weed control, and harvest - if any of the crops survive the hungry geese!

Prescribed Fire:
The refuge encompasses more than 2,000 acres of grasslands. The mixed-grass prairie native to western Oklahoma is a fire-adapted ecosystem. Grasslands existed for thousands of years with regular wild fires that helped maintain the open grasslands by keeping out many trees. The refuge conducts prescribed burns to keep grasslands open and free of invasive trees such as eastern redcedar. The Zone Fire Crew from Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton, OK along with Washita’s staff conduct burns according to burn plans. They also work with our local Volunteer Fire Departments in the event of a wildfire.

Invasive Species Management:
Exotic and invasive species are plants and animals that come from somewhere else and can take over an area by pushing out the native species. Some exotic invasive plants found at Washita National Wildlife Refuge are johnsongrass, saltcedar, plumegrass, giant reed and cheatgrass. These non-native plants do not provide good habitat for our native wildlife, and the refuge works throughout the year to control these species. Non-native animals can also be found on the refuge. Domestic dogs and cats are sometimes dumped here and they can be extremely harmful to native animals. It is illegal to release domestic animals onto any National Wildlife Refuge. Domestic pigs have recently become a problem at Washita and plans are underway to remove them before they become established in large numbers.