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.
For thousands of years, the refuge’s landscape evolved with grazing by bison and occasional lightning strikes on the short grass prairie. To mimic what used to occur naturally, the refuge now uses cattle to graze the native grasses keeping them vibrant and diverse and conducts prescribed burns to remove dead plant material. Without grazing, the build-up of dead plants would prevent the growth of new vegetation and ultimately a loss of plant diversity. Without fire, the possibility of catastrophic wildfires would be much greater due to the build-up of fuels. Not only would fires be more dangerous and difficult to control, they could cause long-term damage to the soil and plants that are not adapted to intense heat.
Management and Conservation
Refuges use a wide range of land management tools based on the best science available. Some refuges use prescribed fires to mimic natural fires that would have cleared old vegetation from the land helping native plants regenerate and local wildlife to thrive. Other refuges contain Wilderness areas where land is largely managed passively. 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 and grazing.
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.
Laws and Regulations
- Pets must be on a leash.
- Hunting allowed by special drawing only.
- Possession or use of alcohol is prohibited on the refuge.
- Pits or permanent blinds are prohibited.
- Use caution when walking on roads. Yield to approaching vehicles.
- Observe wildlife from a safe distance. Young animals should be left alone.
- Help protect resources. All plants, wildlife, and cultural features on the refuge are protected and it is illegal to remove them.
- Fires are allowed in fire pits only. County burn bans determine if fires are allowed.
- Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuges must comply with all provisions of state and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations.
- No flying objects (i.e. Drones)