All of the refuge’s pools are man-made and have been developed into emergent marshes. Keeping the refuge a productive place for wildlife is all about the water! All of the refuge pools are shallow, averaging about 1.5 feet deep. The actual depth of the water in any pool at any given season is carefully planned and managed to create the best “mix” of plants and open water. Ideally, this “mix” is 1/3 emergent plants (like cattail), 1/3 submerged aquatics (like bladderwort), and 1/3 open water. Such a mix provides prime habitat for wildlife to rest, feed, nest, and rear young by offering food (plants, insects and crustaceans), shelter, nesting materials, and water.
To keep the ideal mix of plants and water for wildlife, the refuge’s pools are drained periodically, exposing the soil to warm sunlight. This allows new plants to grow. To refill the pool, water is either pumped in small volumes from canal to pool or the pool is filled by rain.
Certain marsh areas on the refuge are managed to produce shorebird habitat. These areas are drained in the spring, and then in mid- to late-summer, they get disked, turning up the soil. A shallow sheet of water pumped into the area creates a mudflat—the perfect conditions for shorebirds to find food (insects and other invertebrates inhabiting the mud).