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. From the recreational activities offered, to the resource management tools used, refuge system managers use the best conservation practices to ensure the survival of native wildlife species. McLean National Wildlife Refuge is managed to provide habitat for all wildlife with an emphasis on suitable waterfowl nesting and brood-rearing habitat. Refuge staff carefully consider any management techniques and employ them in varying degrees according to the situation. Several habitat management tools are used to maintain and enhance habitat, including grazing, prescribed burning, noxious weed control, mowing, seeding and the most important tool for refuge wetlands – water management. Please note - the Refuge is not open to public use.
Management and Conservation
Wildlife Managers use a variety of tools to manage habitat for many species of wildlife.
Controlled burns are often called prescribed burns because wildlife managers write a careful prescription of the weather conditions, equipment, and people necessary to safely conduct a burn that will have the desired ecological effect. Fire is used to help wildlife and wildlife habitat by stimulating prairie plant growth, increasing soil nutrients, and setting back the invading trees and other species not adapted to life on the prairie.
Prairie animals are also adapted to fire. Some go underground during the fire. Others simply fly or run away from the fire. Sometimes, birds lose their nests to fire, but native grassland species have an adaptation for this: they quickly respond by building a new nest and laying a new clutch of eggs. While there is some short-term loss to some nests or animals, these same species depend on fire for their survival, since many prairie plants and animals cannot survive long, once shrubs or trees take over their grassland habitat.
Rotational Livestock Grazing
Refuge managers work together with local ranchers to mimic natural disturbances that were once caused by large herds of free-ranging bison and elk on the prairie. Through livestock grazing, invasive cool-season grasses and other invasive plants can be stressed, which favors native grasses and forbs such as western wheatgrass, green needlegrass, blue grama, little bluestem, purple coneflowers, goldenrods and low growing shrubs. Grazing can greatly influence theand diversity of grassland communities.
Water Level Management
To foster desired plant growth, water levels on wetlands are carefully monitored and controlled with water control structures. Management objectives focus on providing habitat and food for nesting, rearing, and migrating birds. An especially important plant, sago pondweed, provides shoots and tubers as a food source for birds. The invertebrates these plants support are also an important food source for waterfowl, shorebirds, and many other wildlife species, especially when nurturing broods.
Invasive Species Control
Invasive species are plants and animals that are not native to an area, and can cause economic or environmental harm. One of the largest threats to public lands in the United States, next to habitat loss, is the invasion of invasive plant and animal species. If left unchecked,can alter habitat and water quality.
Refuge managers utilize livestock grazing, burning, chemical application, and insects to control invasive plants such as smooth brome grass, Kentucky bluegrass, Canada thistle, absinth wormwood, leafy spurge, Russian olive, and Siberian elm trees.
McLean National Wildlife Refuge is closed to all public uses and does not have any facilities on site.
Please visit the Audubon National Wildlife Refuge office and visitor center to learn more about this Refuge.
Our Projects and Research
Our National Wildlife Refuges are places for everyone to learn about and discover the outdoors. This opportunity is utilized by numerous local grad students from local universities and other government organizations over the years, researching a wide variety of wildlife and plant species on the refuge. If interested in performing a research project on refuge lands please contact: Audubon National Wildlife Refuge (email@example.com).
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. Some other duties include patrolling closed areas, maintaining relationships with neighboring landowners, maintaining refuge boundaries and participating in public events related to refuge issues.
Laws and Regulations
The National Wildlife Refuge System, the only system of Federal lands devoted specifically to wildlife, is a network of diverse and strategically located habitats. More than 565 national wildlife refuges and thousands of waterfowl production areas across the United States teem with millions of migratory birds. They serve as havens for hundreds of endangered species and host an enormous variety of other plants and animals. Over 39 million people visit units of the National Wildlife Refuge System each year to enjoy a wide range of wildlife related recreational opportunities (please note that McLean National Wildlife Refuge is not open to the public). To maintain this system, the passage and creation of laws and regulations, such as the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, ensures a strong and singular wildlife conservation mission.