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.

Management and Conservation

Refuges use a wide range of land management tools based on the best science available. 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:

Prescribed fire

Historically, fires occurred naturally on the landscape as a result of lightning strikes. For millennia it has shaped the landscape leading to the current diversity of trees, shrubs and plant life present on the refuge. Today, prescribed fire is used to maintain the refuge’s diversity. Fire plays an important role in habitat management, especially in grassland ecosystems, by stimulating growth of native plants, recycling nutrients back into the soil, reducing fuel loads and removing 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
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Water level management

Managing water levels is a year round task at the refuge. In spring and summer, water levels are drawn down in the wetlands to encourage growth of native vegetation. In fall, the wetlands are re-flooded. Water levels are manipulated to provide a variety of wetland conditions for plants and animals. Using man-made structures, such as stop logs, radial gates, screw gates and pumps allows us to managed water levels on more than 3,500 acres of wetland.

Moist-soil management

Moist-soil management involves manipulating water levels to promote the growth of native wetland vegetation and its seed production for migrating waterfowl. Techniques used to achieve these management goals include rolling, disking and burning.

Forest management

Preservation and management of the loess hill and bottomland forests is done on the refuge through forest inventory to determine quality and quantity of the woodlands.

Invasive species management

An invasive species can be any kind of life (plant, animal, fungus) that does not normally live in the area but starts to spread and becomes abundant. These species have a negative impact on their new environment. The refuge has identified several species which it monitors and treats to slow or stop the spread including reed canary grass, garlic mustard, bush honeysuckle, phragmites (also known as common reed), Japanese hops and oriental bittersweet.

People management

National wildlife refuges are where wildlife comes first. Every activity that people can participate in on the refuge has to be determined compatible with the reason the refuge was founded. We try to strike a balance between human users and undisturbed habitat for wildlife.

Research, inventorying and monitoring

The refuge has a long tradition of hosting a variety of research projects that have assisted in the management of the refuge. The refuge participates in several inventory and monitoring programs. These programs help guide wildlife management actions taken by the refuge and its conservation partners. Some examples of monitoring programs we take part in guide population-wide wildlife management goals and objectives include massasauga rattlesnake surveys, waterbird surveys, breeding bird surveys, white-tailed deer spotlight surveys, small mammal surveys, invertebrate surveys and nongame bird surveys. Monitoring is also done for fire, vegetation and wetlands.

Most inventory and monitoring data are provided to existing national, regional or state programs.

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement issues should be referred to refuge staff at the Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge headquarters. If during normal business hours, call headquarters at 660-442-3187, or contact the Missouri Department of Conservation "Operation Game Thief" toll-free number 1-800-393-1111, available 24 hours a day. You may also report violations to loessbluffs@fws.gov.

Laws and Regulations

Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge wants you to enjoy your visit while keeping the refuge in pristine condition for you, future guests and the wildlife and plants that call the area home. During your visit we ask you to follow these regulations.