Resource Management

Threatened western snowy plovers are banded to help refuge staff monitor movements, breeding activity and survival rates/USFWS Photo

Refuges strive for biological integrity, diversity and environmental health. Much of the management work of refuges is to maintain, enhance or restore intact and self-sustaining habitats and wildlife populations that existed during historic conditions.

Willapa National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) faces many unique management challenges. While the refuge includes many pristine areas, it also includes lands where considerable restoration effort is needed. With the amazing diversity of habitats, from ocean sand dune beaches to the sheltered mudflats of the bay, from pristine old growth forests to open salt grass meadows, an equal diversity of conservation efforts must be employed. The refuge is home to several threatened species, and is trying to restore habitat for many others. Like many places, Willapa NWR is also coping with the threat of invasive species.

To help plants and wildlife, refuge staff uses a variety of habitat management techniques to maintain, recover or enhance plant and wildlife values. Refuge staff carefully considers any management techniques and employ them in varying degrees according to the situation. 

Learn more about current management goals…

Sometimes, sensitive areas are closed to the public so that the land or species can recover more quickly. Mowing, tilling, seeding and the control of water levels are some of the techniques used to help native plants recover for the benefit of other wildlife. Mechanical removal or application of herbicides is also used to control invasive plant species, such as spartina, gorse and non-native beach grasses.

Standardized ground and aerial wildlife surveys and vegetation surveys are conducted on the refuge throughout the year to inventory populations and document habitat use. Units are evaluated by how well they met habitat and wildlife use objectives.

Public involvement and input are important to us and to the planning process, and we hope you will take an active interest in the process, individually and as a community. View our current conservation management planning documents…

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.  On this refuge trapping occurs only as a wildlife management tool and is prohibited by the public.  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.