Resource Management



Riparian zones along with their associated water bodies, including wetlands, are managed as one unit within a watershed. Riparian zones are complicated because they encompass many habitats: wetlands, shrublands and forests creating a fragile ecosystem with microclimates. Wetlands associated with the refuge’s riparian ecosystems include open water, beaver ponds, marsh, shrub swamps, wet meadows, and bottomland hardwood swamps.


The Sugar Lake Division has 16 freshwater impoundments that range in size from 1 to 175 acres. Impoundments were created as moist soil units to benefit wetland dependent species, by mimicking a natural wetland cycle. Active management includes manipulation of the water levels in the impoundments through drawdowns in the late-spring to early-summer (promoting the growth of vegetation used for food and shelter) and flooding in the fall or spring. 


Shrublands can be found in wet or dry areas of the refuge. 

These are important habitats for American Woodcock and Blue-winged warbler. Left alone, shrublands will eventually become forests. To keep habitat as shrublands they need to be disturbed through activities such as mowing, selective cutting of trees, and the application of herbicides.   


The refuge’s forested areas are found along creeks and rivers as well as in upland areas. These forested areas are important for priority migratory birds including wood duck, Canada warbler, wood thrush, scarlet tanager, and cerulean warblers. Forests are left “messy” by design. Downed limbs and dead snags are left alone to provide cover and nesting sites for birds. Approximately 85 species of North American birds are known to use snags for nesting, roosting, perching and other activities. Occasionally trees may be removed to open the canopy and invasive species including bush honeysuckles, garlic mustard, and multiflora rose are removed.

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.