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. 

When you visit the refuge, you will notice many impoundments. These impoundments occur where playa lakes (shallow depression wetlands, generally smaller than 30 acres) have occurred naturally, and are currently managed to provide ponds and lakes of various sizes and depths. The refuge lowers and raises water levels in the ponds to provide the best mix of feeding, nesting, and breeding habitats for waterfowl and other water birds. This mix of habitats benefits wading, diving and dabbling birds. 
Refuge staff, in coordination with the local water users association, spends a great deal of time making sure the water conveyance system functions as smoothly and efficiently as possible. In order to conserve water in this semiarid zone, open ditches have been replaced with more than 13 miles of gravity-fed pipeline. This has also provided a more efficient means of irrigating up to 700 acres of farm fields, where crops such as oats, barley, wheat, and peas are planted to provide food for a variety of migratory birds, like ducks, geese and cranes. 
On Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge, you will see wheat, barley, and peas planted for wildlife to eat and build their fat reserves to fuel their lengthy migration. National Wildlife Refuges are often islands in an ocean of developed lands, especially for birds that migrate thousands of miles north and south. That is why refuges often actively manage lands to make sure food, water, and shelter will be as productive as possible. 

Management and Conservation

Providing optimal habitat for wildlife on the Refuge is a management priority. Refuge management practices such as browse/grain crop production, prescribed burning, 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
control, and water manipulation enhance species diversity by ensuring a variety of habitat types.