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. Refuge management can be divided into active management (physically altering habitat) or passive management (allowing nature to take its own course). 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:

Exotic and Invasive Plant Management

The refuge uses prescribed fire, mechanical equipment, and chemical methods to control and remove exotic and invasive plant species. The methods used depend on the plant species being controlled. Some plants require limited methods of control and others require a combination of all three methods. The ultimate goal is to control or remove exotic and invasive plant species to allow native species to regain the land.

Wetland and Moist Soil Management

Water levels are controlled manually to provide habitat for wintering waterfowl and migrating shorebirds, marsh and waterbirds. The timing and manipulation of water levels determines habitat and food availability for a variety of species.

Prescribed Fire Management

Prescribed fire is utilized as a management tool to restore and protect native habitats. The plant communities on the refuge are adapted to coexist with fire disturbances. Fire promotes the native mixed-grass prairie species and deters woody encroachment.

Farming for Wildlife

Farming provides supplemental food for a variety of wildlife species. It also acts to deter crop depredation on neighboring farm fields. Farming practices include cultivation, weed control, planting, and harvesting of remaining seed bank to use in the following year.

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.

Our Projects and Research

The refuge works closely with universities, other Federal agencies, non-government organizations, and researchers in supporting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's conservation mission. Projects focus on research, habitat management, and inventory and monitoring.

Research Projects
  • White-faced and glossy ibis hybridization
  • Resiliency of native fishes to extreme drought
  • Insect herbivores of saltgrass (Distichlis spicata)
  • Environmental availability and assessment of heavy metals and other anthropogenic contaminants in snowy plover nesting habitats in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma
  • Structure and connectivity of mid-continental snowy plovers
  • Oceans Across Space and Time (OAST)
Habitat Management Projects
  • Reduction of woody encroachment into native mixed-grass prairie
  • Preserve/recover salt flats from invading salcedar
Inventory and Monitoring Projects

An Inventory and Monitoring Plan was created listing and describing all survey conducted by refuge staff.

  • Integrated Waterbird Management and Monitoring
  • International Shorebird Survey
  • Spatial Snowy Plover Survey
  • Invasive Plant Monitoring and Mapping
  • Vegetation Surveys
  • Aquatic Invertebrate Surveys
  • Waterfowl Habitat Assessment and Monitoring

Collaborative Surveys the refuge contributes to:

  • Mid-winter Waterfowl Survey
  • Mid-winter Eagle Survey
  • Christmas Bird Count
  • Mourning Dove Trapping and Banding
  • Central Flyway Sandhill Crane Surveys

Law Enforcement

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement officers have a wide variety of duties and responsibilities. Officer 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

Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge welcomes visitors. We want you to enjoy your visit while keeping the refuge in pristine condition for you, future generations and the wildlife and plants that call the area home. During your visit we ask you to follow these regulations which help us ensure our mission.