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. 

Habitat loss is one of the major reasons for the decline in many wetland and grassland-dependent species. Because healthy habitats can’t exist without periodic disturbance, and due to the effects of past human manipulation, refuge lands need to be managed to improve or maintain habitat conditions. Some of the management techniques we use on the refuge include: prescribed fire, grassland restoration, wetland restoration, woody plant control and 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.

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control. By using these activities, the refuge is able to provide quality habitat for a wide variety of wildlife species.

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 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:  

Partnerships 

The establishment of the refuge and conservation area conservation area
A conservation area is a type of national wildlife refuge that consists primarily or entirely of conservation easements on private lands. These conservation easements support private landowner efforts to protect important habitat for fish and wildlife and major migration corridors while helping to…

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was made possible by conservation partners and provides the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the opportunity to provide further partnership in the area. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will continue to work with the State of Illinois, conservation organizations, local communities, neighboring landowners and other stakeholders to restore oak savanna, grassland habitats and wetlands on public and private lands. Through this conservation area approach, we will strive to be part of the broader community and partner-based conservation effort. 

Invasive Plant Removal 

Non-native plants, such as European buckthorn, honeysuckle, brome grass and purple loosestrife compete with native plants for sunlight and space. They often lack natural population controls that native plants have developed over time. Invasive plants crowd out more desirable species. As part of our management actions, we will work to reduce non-native plants and replace them with plants that were historically found in the Kankakee Basin. Tools may include: manual removal (by staff, contractors or volunteers), prescribed fire, biological control, chemical control and other techniques.  

Work with Private Landowners 

The Service offers technical expertise and funding to help interested landowners improve and protect wildlife habitat on their lands. More than 90% of the land in the midwest is privately owned, and wildlife depend on these lands for food, shelter, nesting and migration. The Service provides assistance to landowners who wish to create a conservation legacy on their own lands. 

One of the programs the Service offers when working with private landowners is the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. This program is a voluntary program designed to assist private landowners in restoring and enhancing wetland, bottomland forest, riparian riparian
Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

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and grassland habitats for wildlife, fisheries, water quality and recreation benefits. The Illinois partners program staff provides technical advice and matching funds to landowners in Kankakee, Iroquois and Ford counties. Assistance is available for restoration projects, including wetland water control structures and pipes, re-establishment of native prairies and oak savanna restoration, to landowners who agree to maintain the area for a period of 10 years or more. To learn more, you can contact the Illinois Partners for Fish and Wildlife office at 217-557-4474. 

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. 

In case of emergency please call 911. To report a violation that is occurring on Kankakee National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area, please call 815-354-3399, or the National Wildlife Refuge System TIPs hotline at 1-844-697-8477 or fws_tips@fws.gov.

Laws and Regulations

Welcome to your national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

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. To ensure your safety and protect wildlife and habitat, please be aware of the refuge regulations. Refuge lands are open daily from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunrise. Hunting is allowed in accordance with all applicable state and federal laws, with some additional refuge-specific requirements. No fishing opportunities are available on the refuge. Some additional activities are not authorized, including trapping, operating motorized vehicles and camping. If you have any questions, please call the refuge manager at 815-678-4532 ext. 8206.