What We Do
Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1965 to provide wildlife habitat to mitigate from the wetland andlosses from the creation of Flaming Gorge and Fontenelle Reservoirs. Within Congress's initial directions, we were tasked to provide recreational opportunities as well. We have several wetland units that provide shallow and deep water wetland habitat for migrating waterfowl and other water birds, as well as nesting and brood rearing for trumpeter swans and other water birds. Upstream of the Refuge, Fontenelle Dam has changed the natural flows of the Green River, which seem to have been vital to establish new stands of our local shrub and tree species, especially narrowleaf cottonwoods. In addition to monitoring and studying the natural systems, we have experimented with several different methods to try to help narrowleaf cottonwoods establish young trees to help replace the aging cottonwood gallery.
Instream fisheries work is another area of focus. Restoring side channels with excavation as well as various instream rock structures, such as barbs, weirs, and others help to increase aquatic habitat available to fish and provide juvenile fish rearing habitat as well as continuing to water the trees and shrubs adjacent to the river. We use many tools and different approaches to maintain and improve the habitat as well as the public use facilities available at Seedskadee.
Trumpeter swans, golden and bald eagles, sandhill cranes, trout, and moose are surveyed or censused at Seedskadee NWR in cooperation with Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Cottonwood browse transects and exclosures are set up and monitored with the cooperation of Wyoming Game and Fish Department and U.S. Geological Services. Mourning dove banding is another important biological activity that contributes to the national and state hunting seasons for doves.
Water levels in the wetlands are monitored and controlled to encourage desired plant growth to provide the best habitat for certain species, such as trumpeter swans. Levees, ditches and headgates are checked often and maintained to ensure burrowing rodents or beavers don't thwart efforts to provide swans with quality nesting habitat. Prescribed burning, mowing, herbicide application and seeding are some of the techniques used to help give desired native plants the competitive edge over invasive or less desirable plants.
Public involvement and input are important to us and to the planning process, and we hope you will take an active interest in the process, individually and as a community. Check out Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge's CCP (Comprehensive Conservation Plan) to see a more detailed description of refuge goals and management methods.
Management and Conservation
Area occupied by the active river channel that are directly and dramatically influenced by the seasonal hydrology of the Green River. Riverine habitats are made up of two components denoting the presence or absence of flowing water. Permanent water sites (1,254 acres) encompass only the active river channel and feature flowing water. The remainder of the habitat (140 acres) is gravel bars, sandbars, mud flats, and other similar sites which occur within the active river channel, are not submerged, and which do not support permanent vegetation. The river provides habitat for aquatic species, such as fish, crayfish, and aquatic insects. Waterfowl, raptors, other birds such as gulls and shorebirds use riverine habitats as well. Due to the influence of Fontenelle Dam, portions of the Green River remain ice-free, providing important wintering habitat for trumpeter swans, bald eagles, and waterfowl.
Wetlands along the Green River within the Refuge boundary are created when water is held or flows through natural or man-made basins. Refuge staff may manage water levels to provide a variety of water depths. Birds such as trumpeter swans and ruddy ducks prefer deep water ponds for nesting and feeding, while migrating shorebirds such as American avocets, long-billed dowitchers, and a variety of sandpipers are attracted to shallow flooded mud flats to look for food. White-faced ibis, redheads, cinnamon teal, pied-billed grebes, sora rails, marsh wrens, yellow-headed blackbirds, and muskrat are all common in the wetlands.
Approximately 1,115 acres of wetland habitat exists on the Refuge including open water, marshes, and wet meadows. Wetland development and management has been the primary focus at Seedskadee NWR since its creation. In the 1980s, approximately 300 acres of wetlands were created in the Hamp, Hawley, Lower Hawley, and Dunkle wetland management units. Water from the Green River is diverted through a series of ditches to fill temporarily, seasonally and semi-permanently flooded wetlands which provide habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, and other marsh dependent wildlife. This flow-through system returns much of the diverted water back into the Green River.
Approximately 4,349 acres ofhabitat (forest and shrub) exist on the Refuge. The dominant plant species in this habitat are narrow-leaf cottonwood with an understory of shrubs and grasses. Principal shrub species include: several willow species, Wood's rose, silver buffaloberry, silverberry, skunkbush, golden current, and gooseberry. The riparian habitat type is found predominately along the Green River. The Big Sandy River riparian corridor has no overstory tree habitat.
Several wildlife species that depend on this habitat for breeding include: great blue heron, bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, Swainson's hawk, merlin, kestrel, common merganser, eastern kingbird, willow flycatcher, house wren, yellow warbler, Bullock's oriole, mountain bluebird, northern flicker, moose, beaver, river otter, masked shrew, water shrew, vagrant shrew, and the little brown myotis.
Riparian forests provide critical migrational and breeding habitat for approximately 150 bird species. Forest breeding birds that winter in Central and South America are known as neotropical migrants. Many neotropical migrants are not capable of migrating non-stop through the arid semi desert shrubland that predominates much of Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. Over 50 neotropical migrant species rely on the north-south riparian forest corridors of the Colorado and Green Rivers for feeding, resting or breeding.
Sagebrush uplands dominate the landscape away from the river. The Refuge is fenced to allow for prescribed grazing and to prevent livestock access from adjacent lands onto the Refuge when grazing has not been planned and permitted as a habitat management activity. Fenced water access lanes (also known as water gaps) are provided so that livestock on adjacent grazing allotments can reach the river for water without accessing the remainder of the Refuge. Species that depend on large expanses of healthygrassland communities include the sage sparrow, sage thrasher, Brewer's sparrow, ferruginous hawk, pygmy rabbit, and pronghorn.
Approximately 19,212 acres of semi desert upland habitats exist on the Refuge. These habitat types are generally characterized by varying vegetation communities interspersed with large areas of bare ground, desert pavement and rocks. Special status species utilizing these habitat types include the mountain plover and the burrowing owl. The burrowing owl was a former candidate for listing as endangered or threatened species. Burrowing owls are uncommon and are often associated with areas that have burrows created by white-tailed prairie dogs or some other burrowing/digging species. Mountain plovers are currently proposed for listing as a threatened species and utilize areas that are characterized by short vegetation interspersed with bareground.
We have public restrooms available at headquarters with a front foyer that is open from sunrise to sunset with informational brochures. There is also a visitors center and environmental education center with interactive displays and an observation deck. The Flicker Trail departs from the headquarters, down a management road and connects with a mowed trail through the cottonwoods. The Lombard trail is further down the auto tour route and offers an asphalt universally accessible trail. All refuge roads are maintained by refuge staff, as are much of the wetland infrastructure and instream structures. We complete many projects with the goal to improve habitat on the refuge.
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
Seedskadee Refuge provides numerous recreation opportunities to hundreds of visitors every year. People enjoy viewing the unique scenery and diverse wildlife, whether boating, driving, horseback riding, bird/wildlife watching, photographing, hiking, hunting, fishing, or taking part in historical interpretation. Regulation of recreation activities allow for public enjoyment of the Refuge while still protecting the wildlife and habitats found on the unique landscape along the Green River in SW Wyoming's high desert plains. In order to protect National Wildlife Refuge resources, reduce competing uses, and safeguard visitors, it is necessary to establish regulations on the use of the Refuge. Your cooperation is necessary to help us properly manage the Refuge and its wildlife.