Moist-soil Management

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The refuge attempts to meet as much of the waterfowl forage objective through the moist-soil management program as feasible. Additionally, several other migratory bird groups, including rails, wading birds, shorebirds, and some species of landbirds, benefit from moist-soil management practices. On occasion management efforts within individual impoundments are focused towards species groups other than waterfowl.


The refuge’s moist-soil program essentially began in the mid-1980's when most of the impoundments were constructed. Under the current management strategy the refuge has the capability to manage for approximately 1,600 acres of quality moist-soil habitats (1,500 ac. on the Duck River Unit and 50 ac. each on the Big Sandy and Busseltown units). An average of 1,350 acres, with varying levels of quality, are produced each year.


Since quality moist-soil habitats are primarily composed of annual grasses, sedges and forbs, these areas must be maintained in an early successional stage. To accomplish this the refuge utilizes several management techniques that are aimed at setting back succession. The techniques most commonly used are water level management, shallow and deep disking, farming, and herbicide application. Some of these techniques work well in some impoundments but not in others. The refuge continually works to control invasive exotic aquatic plants that threaten to choke out the native vegetation in these impoundments.