What We Do

Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It drives everything on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters managed within the Refuge System, from the purposes for which a 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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is established to the recreational activities offered to the resource management tools used. Using conservation best practices, the Refuge System manages Service lands and waters to help ensure the survival of native wildlife species.

Our District staff use many treatments to maintain or increase the health of prairie habitats. Prairie grasses and flowers evolved and flourished under tough conditions. Bison herds numbering in the millions roamed, grazed, and trampled the prairies as they moved seasonally. Frequent wildfires, many started by a lightning strike, burned through large swaths of prairie. These intense activities shaped our prairie communities and the various adaptations that helped them thrive and reproduce. Today, we try to mimic some of these natural processes by using prescribed fires, rotational grazing, mowing, haying, and resting treatments on our prairies. In addition, we use herbicides or biological controls to suppress 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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, farming to prepare for the planting of grasslands and monitoring to learn from our past actions. 

Management and Conservation

Refuges deploy a host of scientifically sound management tools to address biological challenges. These tools span active water management to wilderness character monitoring, all aimed at ensuring a balanced conservation approach to benefit both wildlife and people.  At this field station, our conservation toolbox includes:

  • Planning – Comprehensive Conservation Plan
  • Planning – Habitat Management Plan
  • Habitat Restoration: We seed native grass and wildflower mixtures to mimic prairie systems that provide places for birds, mammals, pollinators, and other animals to live, feed, hide, and raise young. We restore drained wetlands to again hold water and filter pollutants.
  • Agriculture
  • Conservation Easements
  • Compatibility Determinations
  • Cultural Resources
  • Education & Outreach 
  • Fire Management
  • Grazing
  • Invasive Species
  • Inventory and Monitoring
  • Land Acquisition
  • Law Enforcement
  • Pesticide Management
  • Species Research 


Prescribed grazing can maintain or increase the health of a prairie when used correctly. By varying the intensity, frequency, and timing of grazing, we can target different plant species (such as invasive cool season grasses), reduce the amount of ground litter, and increase the structural diversity (range of heights and plant forms) of a prairie. This practice can be used to prepare ground for restoration, to increase the attractiveness for ground-nesting migratory birds and waterfowl, and to mimic a time when bison trampled and grazed large expanses of prairie. Native prairie plants adapted  to how bison and other herbivores used the prairie. Grazing, based on the bison model, is now used to maintain a diverse and healthy prairie.

Prescribed Fire

Prescribed fire is a management tool that is used to maintain the health of a prairie. As with grazing, prairie plants adapted to the frequent fires that raced across these parts. These fires were historically started by lightning strikes and burned many miles of uninterrupted prairie. Fire is probably one of the best management tools for combating non-native species. It removes the litter layer, stimulates new plant growth, and can be used to prepare ground for restoration.

Weed Management

Herbicide application and biological control insect releases are used to combat the spread and incidence of noxious and invasive weeds. These treatments may be combined with other management practices - such as mowing - to increase the effectiveness of the overall treatment. Flea beetles have been released at many sites for the control of leafy spurge and are monitored consistently. Patches of spurge may also be targeted with herbicides to prevent further spread.

Mowing and Haying

Mowing and haying are used to increase the vigor of grass stands, remove litter, and to prepare 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
for herbicide treatment or to prevent the production of seeds in those plants.

Each year a targeted selection of waterfowl production areas is open to public bid for mowing and haying. Please contact us for more information about these activities.


Rest or idling is important when it comes to grasslands. Although they can benefit from grazing or haying, doing it too much or too often is usually not a good thing. Continual grazing, for example, allows cattle to select for specific tasty species; this puts excessive pressure on those plants, and they may not recover. Too much grazing or haying also opens up bare ground which allows for invasion by other undesirable species. On the other hand, too much rest can also be detrimental to grassland habitats. Rest allows dead vegetation to build up on the soil, effectively shading and cooling it. This will smother some native plants as well as make conditions better for non-native invasive species like smooth brome or Kentucky bluegrass.


Farming is part of the process used to enhance or re-seed grasslands. Farming smooths and prepares the area for seeding, as well as helps to control any weedy or undesirable species that may have been present prior to tillage. After 3-4 years, farmed areas are typically planted back into diverse stands of grasses or grasses and flowers. These diverse seedings are replacing what was usually a poor stand of grass that had maybe 2-3 species. These reconstructed areas provide better habitat for grassland nesting birds, pollinators, and a host of other wildlife in the area.

Tree Removal

Tree removal can benefit many native grassland species. Trees fragment large blocks of habitat, are a source of seeds that continue to invade prairies, and provide havens and perches for predators such as raccoons, skunks, crows, and other aerial predators. Numerous grassland species specifically avoid areas with trees.


Monitoring is a key part of habitat management. District staff are involved in a variety of surveys, censuses, and research projects to develop baseline data and monitor management practices. These include looking at habitat condition, species composition, invasive species treatment areas, restorations, and populations. Weather patterns, public use, and water levels are also noted.

Our Services

At this field station we offer the following public services:

  • Special use permits
  • Evaluations for conservation easements
  • Project reviews for drainage, pipeline installations, energy development or road improvements
  • Brochures, maps, and North Dakota hunting information
Dozens of waterfowl flying over a grassy wetland

In the United States, the Prairie Pothole Region is located within the northern Great Plains in parts of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Characterized by thousands of shallow wetlands known as potholes, the Prairie Pothole Region provides habitat for globally...

Laws and Regulations

The Kulm Wetland Management District was established under certain laws and complies with or upholds regulations and laws important to the work we do.