What We Do

The National Wildlife Refuge System is a series of lands and waters owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the refuge system. It drives everything we do from the purpose a refuge is established, to the recreational activities offered there, to the resource management tools we use. Selecting the right tools helps us ensure the survival of local plants and animals and helps fulfill the purpose of the refuge. Prescribed fire and grazing are tools used to help manage species and habitats on the refuge. 

Management and Conservation

Refuges use a wide range of land management tools based on the best science available. Some refuges use prescribed fires to mimic natural fires that would have cleared old vegetation from the land helping native plants regenerate and local wildlife to thrive. Other refuges contain Wilderness areas where land is largely managed in passively. The management tools used are aimed at ensuring a balanced conservation approach where both wildlife and people will benefit. At this field station our conservation toolbox includes: prescribed fire and grazing. 

Short grass prairie ecosystems were historically maintained by annual grazing of migrating American bison. With the bison gone, the ecosystem is now maintained using cattle. Areas to be grazed are selected based on the buildup of duff (decaying grasses), invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
and the overall health of a pasture. After being grazed, a pasture then receives one year or more of rest. This system of grazing act similar to the natural grazing once done by the bison herds. 
 
Another tool used to maintain the refuge’s short grass prairie is the use of controlled burns. Grasslands existed for thousands of years with regular wildfires that helped maintain the open grasslands by keeping out the trees and invasive shrubs. Following a prescription, controlled burns are done on an annual basis through some areas but elsewhere they are on about a seven year rotation depending on grassland conditions. This ensures a mix of new and mature growth. Freshly burned areas allow new plant species to become established, while unburned areas continue their progression. This makes for a healthy and diverse habitat that is beneficial to a variety of wildlife. 

Law Enforcement

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement officers have a wide variety of duties and responsibilities. Officers help visitors understand and obey wildlife protection laws. They work closely with state and local government offices to enforce federal, state and refuge hunting regulations that protect migratory birds and other game species from illegal take and preserve legitimate hunting opportunities. 

Laws and Regulations

  • Pets must be on a leash or under control. 

  • Horses and horseback riding are prohibited on the refuge. 

  • Possession or use of alcohol is prohibited on the refuge. 

  • Pits or permanent blinds are prohibited. 

  • Use caution when walking on roads. Yield to approaching vehicles. 

  • Observe wildlife from a safe distance. Young animals should be left alone. 

  • Help protect resources. All plants, wildlife, and cultural features on the refuge are protected and it is illegal to remove them. 

  • Open fires are prohibited. 

  • Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuges must comply with all   provisions of state and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations. 

  • Camping is allowed in designated camping areas. 

  • Visitors are encouraged to take wildlife-related photos within areas open to the public. Professional photographers wanting to access closed areas or whose subject matter is not specific to wildlife (i.e., professional portraits and commercial images) must apply for a Special Use Permit. 

  • The releasing of animals, wild or domestic, on the refuge is prohibited. 

  • No flying objects (i.e. Drones).