Wetland-Pond 6 Landscape View North

 "Where appropriate, manage wetland impoundments to create a diversity of habitats for target waterfowl, shorebirds, and other associated native wetland-dependent species" (Goal for Wetland Impoundment Habitat andAssociated Wildlife-Refuge CCP).


Wetland-Pond 10 visible from Kenai Nature TrailShortly after acquiring the first tract of refuge land, the Service constructed several impoundments (commonly referred to as ponds) to hold water for migratory waterfowl. These impoundments were mostly built atop agricultural fields. Before this area was homesteaded in the 1870s, these lands consisted of native grassland and shrubland habitats, gallery forests, and some natural streams. Currently, there are 958 acres of wetland impoundments.

The Service has identified the habitat needs of a diverse group of target waterbird species (table 9 -Refuge CCP), including ducks and shorebirds that use Refuge wetlands. Providing for the life history needs of these species would provide the natural wetland diversity and conditions needed not only for these target species, but also for an even greater variety of wetland-associated wildlife. Monitoring would focus on these target species to determine their response to wetland management actions. In the Bitterroot Valley, the Lee Metcalf Refuge is an important refuge for migratory birds during the spring and fall. Waterfowl breeding and brood rearing occurs on Lee Metcalf Refuge with a great variety of waterfowl using the Wetland-Bulrush at Hollingsworth Wetlandrefuge for these life history requirements; however, the refuge is not a major production refuge. The most important habitat management efforts would focus on providing optimal habitat for foraging and resting during migration. Lowering the water levels would serve to increase food availability by concentrating foods in smaller areas and at water depths within the foraging range of target wildlife. The rate and timing of drawdowns have important influences on the production and composition of semipermanent wetland plants and invertebrates that provide protein-rich food resources (USFWS 1991) for each of these target bird species.


Strategies to Attain Goal:

  • Wetland-Arumleaf Arrowhead, aquatic plant Maintain or replace the water management structures in Ponds 1–6, Ponds 8 and 10, and Otter Pond. The remaining wetland impoundment structures will be maintained as needed. 
  • Water level management of all ponds will be changed to a more seasonal water regime that emulates natural increases in distribution and depth in spring, followed by occasional drying in summer and fall to encourage the restoration of wetland and shrub habitat. While drawing wetlands down, exposed shorelines will be monitored and treated to prevent invasive species and monotypic stands of cattails from becoming established. File for changes to existing water rights as directed by the Service’s water resources division. 
  • Prevent invasive species encroachment into newly exposed soil using various mechanical, biological, and chemical treatments to control invasive species and prepare areas for native restoration. 
  • Wetland-Smartweed Growing in Shallow Water Manage, or maintain, a hemi-marsh condition of the ponds to create a ratio of 50:50 open-water to emergent vegetation (such as bulrush and cattail), providing optimal breeding and brood rearing habitat for diving ducks and dense emergent vegetation over water 2–8 inches deep for bitterns. 
  • Manage or maintain dry ground with tall grasses and mixed herbaceous cover for dabbling ducks. 
  • Emulate long-term patterns of drier conditions in floodplain wetlands in most years including periodic complete drying in some years and occasional prolonged flooding in a few years. 
  • To determine the water-level targets needed to provide adequate food, cover, and nesting substrate for target waterbird species, install staff gauges in all wetland impoundments where they are missing. 
  • Wetland-Pond 8 Photoblind Determine the feasibility and methods for restoring the historical flow of the side channel of the Bitterroot River and Three Mile Creek through Ponds 11–13 to restore riparian habitat and reestablish unimpeded flow to the river. 
  • Monitor the trends in abundance and distribution of target species to evaluate the effectiveness of these proposed actions.