Resource Management

Resource Management 329x219








Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.

~Aldo Leopold  

The primary purpose of the Hatchie National Wildlife Refuges is to protect and enhance an excellent example of a fully functioning, river-driven bottomland hardwood ecosystem that supplies critical habitat needs for wintering waterfowl and other migratory birds, as well as a host of other fish and wildlife species, and provides refuge visitors the opportunity to learn the value of this unique and diminishing habitat.  

The refuge practices several different types of management techniques to provide optimum habitat for wintering waterfowl.  

Click Next to learn about these practices.

Moist Soil Impoundments

Moist Soil wetlands historically occurred where openings existed in bottomland hardwoods.  Forest openings were often caused by high winds, catastrophic floods, beavers, fires, etc.  Man-made impoundments are commonly managed as moist-soil wetlands.  Moist-soil areas are typified by seed producing annuals such as smartweed, wild millet, and sprangletop.  Planting moist-soil areas is not necessary because native plant seeds are abundant in frequently flooded soils.  Over 2,500 pounds per acre of seed can be produced in a properly managed moist-soil area.  (Wetland Management for Waterfowl-A Handbook 2007)

Moist soil habitats are an integral part of managing public wetlands for waterfowl as these food resources are provided in large part only on state and federal lands. The Hatchie River and the associated river floodplain are capable of supplying food resources, such as barnyard grass,  sprangletop, smartweeds, rice cut-grass, and a host of other beneficial herbaceous plant species. The acreage of these early successional habitats varies annually depending on how quickly the fields  dry out after dewatering, and plays a key role in the migration patterns of mid-continent waterfowl and  other migratory birds. Refuge resource management, including moist soil habitat, will in large part,  influence the refuge’s present and future benefits to waterfowl. Management of the moist soil units  will continue to address habitat issues that affect migratory bird populations, in keeping with refuge goals and establishing purposes. 

Click next to learn about our valuable bottomland hardwood forests.

Bottomland Hardwood Forests

Hatchie NWR's 9,764 acres of mixed bottomland hardwoods on the refuge consist of black willow,  eastern cottonwood, overcup oak, cherrybark oak, willow oak, water oak, Nuttall oak, sugarberry, hackberry, bald cypress, sweet pecan, bitter pecan, sweet gum, and green ash. Forest management practices are used in these areas to maintain optimal diversity of forest habitat for wildlife management purposes. Mast production in the bottomland hardwood  habitats provides an important food source for a wide variety of wildlife, including migratory waterfowl,  deer, squirrel, and turkey. Backwater flooding during winter and spring months typically inundates  thousands of acres of bottomland hardwoods, providing valuable waterfowl habitat.   

25 million acres of bottomland hardwood forests once dominated the Lower Mississippi Aluvial Valley.  Today, over 95% of this important wetland habitat has been cleared for agriculture and other purposes.   Due to the previous destruction of bottomland hardwood forests, the Hatchie NWR plants corn to replace the valuable acorns that were once an essential food in our area for migratory waterfowl.  

Click next to learn more about our farming techniques.  


Agricultural crops play an important role in the scheme of migratory bird management, as they provide a source of high-energy carbohydrates needed during periods of cold weather.  Typically, refuges rotate crops and moist soils to ensure a readily available source of food for wildlife, and to meet refuge objectives set forth in the West Tennessee National Wildlife Refuges Conservation Plan.  Acreage varies from year to year, based on management needs.  These crops are left standing in the fields and provide supplemental forage for resident and migratory wildlife, specifically migratory waterfowl. 

 The refuges' farming program will continue to address the lack of habitat issues that affect migratory bird populations.